How do you like the motto above?? So true- and just think how much time we spend whining about the things we don’t have, instead of being happy with the things we do have!
So – do let’s get on with it!!
The ranch hasn’t sold yet – when it does, you will hear the victory yell from here. It is looking so wonderful now, too – you would all love it. As you know, I have a new gal taking care of it by name of Kate, and she is doing a great job with the watering and cleaning up – I swear the grounds look better than they did while we were open.
That is, of course, when the naughty heifers don’t break in. As I told you last time, we are grazing the 27 replacement heifers on the Grapevine Headquarters – there is so much grass there, and it has never been eaten off over the 30 years or so that guests came and went. Not only was it a great waste of feed, but it’s also bad for grass not to be grazed. The age-old argument between the environmentalists, who think that it’s good for the prairie not to be eaten off, and the opposite truth, still prevails. If you think about it, it makes sense that grazing is good for the land – grazing animals’ hoofprints make indentations in the sod which catch the rain water, their nibbling on the grass makes the grass stool out and become thicker, and generally pastures are much better off for being grazed down.
So now the Grapevine is being grazed down – but of course, the tenants, being heifers, were not content with the domain given them…. no, they had to try for more. Almost daily they escaped back into Grapevine Canyon and an almost daily routine was a heifer round up. It got to be quite tiring in the end – finally we turned off the water in the canyon, and when they drank it down, they were happy enough to stay home. But, being like naughty children, then they got the good idea that perhaps the grass around the accommodations – which is outside their range – might taste better, and almost daily, again, they broke into the forbidden area – and worse, yet, into the holy of holies, the grounds around the Cook Shack and the pool. So now all the turnstiles (would you believe they actually managed to get through those!!) are barricaded with bits of wood, and seem now to be impenetrable, so that the present day Grapevine, with thick wire repairs to the fences everywhere, and fortified with extra barbed wire, looks like some sort of version of Stalag 17. But – hey – it works….
Then we had the great bull escape, which I told you about last time, and his trip to the sale yard. So after that I looked for another bull, this time a small-calf producing bull for the heifers, which I decided to breed earlier, in the interest of a better calf crop. I consulted our veterinarian, who runs the local feed yard, and who is a world expert on cattle reproduction, and he told me of a breeder who had good, registered bulls housed for sale at the feed lot. To cut a long story short, we picked out a beautiful young Black Angus bull, with a pedigree longer than mine, and one guaranteed to throw small-birth calves. The breeder’s name is Tom, so what else to call the bull but Tommy!
We brought Tommy home and introduced him to his harem of 27 eager and beautiful heifers, and it’s quite comical to watch them. Almost any time you find them lazing around, laying around in groups of five or six, with Tommy favoring first one group, and then another. One time Kate told me she came on them all snoozing grouped around Tommy, with one heifer leaning up against his back with her head draped across his neck – how nice is that!! Yesterday I checked them and counted the full number sunbathing, all peaceful and happy. Nice to see happy creatures – especially given how unsettled we of the human race are nowadays!
But, just to make sure that we don’t get too happy, Comanche, being the master of barbed wire and cut feet, managed to get yet another cut just above the coronary band, necessitating a trip to the vet and a plaster cast around the foot to stop proud flesh from developing – a system which our veterinarian invented, and which is very successful. Truly, I wish horses had to pick up the bills of the ranch once in a while! So tomorrow we have to head back with him to get the plaster cut off his leg, taking with us one of Kate’s horses with a mysterious swelling on her foot! Horses – as I say, they seem to know when you’re relaxed and happy, and take care that you taste a bit of sorrow! At least it’s only financial sorrow…
And still on the subject of horses’ feet, my big black and white rescue horse, Chikala, has an absolute phobia about being shod by our excellent farrier, Ross. To get shoes on Chikala was an almost constant rodeo, with the horse pulling back, running over us, rearing up – and, given that he is over 16 hands, weighs well over 1200 lbs and has feet the size of puddin’ plates, that’s no joke! Finally, a few months back, I asked Butch, who used to wrangle at Grapevine, and who is making quite a success of being a horse trainer, to see what he could do. Butch took him in hand and shod him twice – I must say that it was a labor of love, as it was definitely not a moneymaker for Butch! He took the horse into the round pen and every time Chikala jerked, or took his foot away, or was in any way uncooperative, Butch made him work – ran him around the round pen, worked him on the lead line, work, work, work. Then back to the shoeing – you do well, you get to stand, you play up, and it’s back to work. As I say, he shod him twice and then – left us for Pennsylvania!!
So now, just yesterday, Ross had to shoe Chikala, and we were all quite apprehensive about the coming circus. To our great amazement, Chikala stood there, relaxed and co-operative, giving his foot up, letting Ross work on it, putting it down, picking it up again when asked – a total miracle. I couldn’t wait to phone Butchie in PA and tell him the incredible news! What a trainer – and to think he only came to it fairly late in life, about the time he began to wrangle at the ranch! The man has a definite talent with horses, and we are so grateful to him – Ross, in fact, asked me twice to make sure I call Butch and tell him!
And I guess this would not be complete without a report on filly Ayita. Remember how happy we were that we had haltered her the day she hit the ground and how well she was doing?? I guess the God of Horses didn’t like this – it’s called hubris, isn’t it? – and took us down a peg or two. About five weeks back Ayita stuck her head through a corral panel on her pen and, as the panel is on a couple of pins to make it removable for tractor cleaning of the pens, she lifted it off the hinge. This apparently upset her enough that now she doesn’t want to hear of having her head caught in anything, forget the halter, forget the nice goodies, forget the nice people, just be a pesky bronc! Given that she now is a fair lump in size – and with an overly satisfied opinion of herself – it is quite a problem. We had to begin all over again and after all this time have only to the point of being able to catch her head –in a halter? oh no – just in the crook of an arm. Produce anything that looks like a rope, and she is gone, gone…. So now we have to get serious about it all, and it will be more difficult as if we had never haltered her in the first place! Truly, the best laid plans of mice and men….
And on a purely personal note, I went to my eye doctor the other day, and she informed me that I have a wrinkle on the retina of my left eye. Now I call that downright rude! As if it isn’t enough to have wrinkles on one’s face, neck, arms – now there’s one even in the eyeball! It only goes to reaffirm my conviction that old age stinks!
But – and this is a good thing – it has turned hot – a most unusual 90 degrees here yesterday, with a similar forecast for today. Just hope it bring on the rains!!!!
And – do the “sell the ranch” dance for me!!