Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fencing in the Snow

We had a long and glorious fall.  It’s been colder, however, this last week, and we’ve gotten a little snow.
I have a tractor in the shed for work on the steering.  Some new bushings had come in for the “knee” in the front axle, and I installed them Monday morning.  But I discovered that one of the “thrust washers” had broken, so I can’t put the tractor back together until those parts come in.
We had set the brace-posts and pounded three lines of posts while the weather was good, using the first wire for a guide.  I won’t really need this fence until calving time, so I can work on it at my leisure - and this week is leisure.  So I worked on that fence some, installing brace poles and stretching up wires on one of the fences.
Yesterday began rather chilly – 22o – with a few inches of dry snow.  After working on the fence for a couple of hours I set out after the horses to corral the cull cows.  My gooseneck stock trailer holds nine cows, and I loaded up the open and late cows I had cut out last week for the trip to town.
Billings, 110 miles to the east, is a regional market center.  The open cows will sell on Thursday to go to a hamburger plant, and the late-calving cows will be held over for the stock cow sale on Friday.
I went from snow at the ranch to bare and dry down-country at Big Timber.  And it was almost warm at Billings.  But the road was icy coming back up the Main Boulder highway in the evening.  It was so slick that I could spin all four tires if I applied too much fuel, and I slid right past the West Boulder turn-off.  Off the highway on the gravel of the West Boulder road, however, I had plenty of traction.
The brand rules are strict in Montana, and one cannot cross a county line without an inspection on cattle, horses, and sheep.  Because I was going to a stockyard with a brand inspector, I qualified for a “transportation permit” which I picked up at the courthouse in Big Timber.  That was turned over at the stockyard to complete a chain of ownership documentation.  So far as I know, cattle rustling is not much of a problem in Montana.
The weatherman is calling for serious snow by the end of the week.  I’ll keep you informed.

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