We had worked the yearlings a several weeks ago, and this week we worked the cows and the heifer calves. We identified some open cows – cows that were not bred – and some cows that would be calving later than the main herd.
These opens and lates were marked with a one-inch wide grease crayon and cut out of the herd before we turned the rest of the cows back out to fall pasture. Today I got the cull bunch in for a final sort.
The open cows will go to the sale next week, and I cut out enough of the late cows to make a trailer load. The balance of the late calvers I threw in with the heifer calves and trailed across to join the yearling heifers. After the culls go to town next week there will be just two bunches on the ranch: the heifer bunch – calves and yearlings – and the cow bunch. The two bunches will each graze in separate pastures, and be fed separately through the winter.
With all the gathering and sorting done, our horse-work is mostly finished until spring. I pulled the shoes off Buddy today, and will pull Thunder soon. The horses will be down on the hayfields for the winter, and the rocks will be covered with snow.
But there is the occasional need for a horse through the winter, and I will keep the buckskin shod with “sharp” shoes and pads. These shoes will have four cleats - one at each heel and two at the toe – and rim pads to prevent snowballs building up under them. Traction is now the concern, rather than protection of the hoof.
This was also the day that I returned the bucket of tire chains to the back of the pickup along with the scoop shovel. It isn’t often that I need them, but there are four chains in this bucket – one for each tire. (The tow-strap stays in the pickup year-round.) Those tire chains will remain in the pickup for the next six months.
And I dug out the tub of extra clothes. This tub contains a pair of felt-lined boots, a pair of insulated bib overalls, a wool coat and cap, and a pair of insulated gloves. As with the chains, it isn’t often that they are needed. But the chance of having trouble multiplies as the temperature drops, and a person is foolish to be unprepared – especially traveling the back roads of Montana.
I put the garden hoses, the siphon tubes, and the irrigation dams in the barn loft. The irrigation ditches are shut off. The propane tanks are full and there is a stack of firewood.
This fall has been wonderfully warm and dry - the last two years we’ve had snow and sub-zero weather already. One never knows in this country!
But there’s nothing more I can do. Let ‘er rip!