I don‘t know where the time goes – I hardly write one blog, but another is overdue. I swear I don’t know how I ever had the time to run Grapevine! And here it is, time for another spring round up starting Monday, and it seems to me that it was only yesterday that we finished the last one.Anyway – here’s what’s new in my world. Our webmaster, Ben, came to stay for a few days, and it was a long overdue visit, one which I really enjoyed. We took the time to drive over the mountain to the valley east of us, to a town called Portal, which has some fabulous canyons and rock formations, and we found a great little guest ranch for bird lovers, of which Ben is one. The place has been there for some years, but the owner is improving it by leaps and bounds, having made a charming, peaceful little oasis of trees, shrubs, birds … and free roaming javalinas snuffling around the place, sharing the space with the human visitors. Javalinas (peccaries) are notoriously nearsighted animals, quite easily tamed – in fact, we often had them poking around Grapevine after dark, looking for acorns and other goodies to eat, so I am fairly familiar with their comical, large headed shapes, and bristly bodies – but these guys were so tame, and so used to sharing the place with humans that they happily came to within a couple of feet of the two legged visitors. They make good pets – our farrier, Ross, who lives on the San Pedro River, has rescued a couple of babies, who now live with him and his wife. The older of the two, called Zsa Zsa, shares the living room couch with Ross, watching nightly television with him. Ross says that she considers the couch as her own special domain – when a nephew came to visit, Zsa Zsa was very crabby when he tried to sit on her couch, and made sure that he removed to elsewhere. We no sooner came back and Ben left to return to Denver, but it was time for some friends to arrive for the round up. The highlight of their visit is undoubtedly a fabulous gift I received from Marilyn – a gift that I am sure nobody else could have ever imagined. And what was it? Marilyn had taken the time – and spent a considerable amount of money, I am sure – to print out all of my blogs beginning with the first one after the fire, in 2008, and bound them in a handsome book. What a gift – I was speechless. Not only is it so imaginative, but it is also so very time consuming, to say nothing of expensive – but so appreciated! And I must say that I had no idea that I had run off at the mouth quite so much, or perhaps better put, at the pen – the blogs make a pretty substantial, hefty book! Reading them sure brings back some memories of times good … and bad … of those tumultuous years.
And so, what else?? A few weeks ago Chris, here visiting from Canada, and Kate, were riding through the Lake Pasture, and spotted a calf that appeared to be having some problems, lying down near the waterline, not wanting to get up. With some difficulty, they brought the cow and calf in and we discovered a most peculiar situation, one which I had never, in all my years of raising cattle, encountered. The calf appeared to be urinating from a most peculiar angle, and moreover, seemed to have a big hole inside one of his hind legs. We took him and the cow to our veterinarian friend, Dr. T., who is a world authority on cattle, and he diagnosed something I had never even heard of – waterbelly. It seems that a small pebble had formed in the calf’s urethra, blocked it, and the urine simply made its way out through the flesh, making a couple of big holes in the calf’s belly and hind leg – a most revolting sight. Dr. T. said that the wounds would heal, although the calf would always urinate through the hole the urine had made in his flesh, but apart from that he would be normal. What a horrid idea – I would have thought that if the urine couldn’t get out, the bladder would burst? – but what do I know – nature has some mysterious ways. I wonder if the same would happen in a human? My stepdaughter, Sally, a medical doctor, is due here tomorrow from Australia with her chiropractor husband, and I will seek enlightenment. Amazing thing. Right now the calf is out on pasture with his mom, doing well, and I guess that in due course he will be sold with the rest of the calves – but he will remain a bull, as there is no way of castrating him with all that mess under there.
Our friend Steve is here from the UK for the round up, having arrived about a week ago. Steve is a great horseman – he was next in line for the UK Olympic team some years back, and so he spends a lot of his time here riding, checking the cows, and training on some of the horses. One of these is young Bertie, a filly who arrived here with my black and white Pinto, Chikala. They were both rescue horses, and came from the Premarin program in Canada. For those unfamiliar with this, the Premarin medication for women is made from the urine of pregnant mare – hence the name, Premarin – pregnant mare urine – and to this end, the poor mares are kept constantly bred, producing one foal after another. As a lot of urine is needed, the mares are of large draft types, mostly Percherons, bred to Quarterhorse stallions. For the first several years the products of this, the foals, were sold to the hunter jumper enthusiasts on the east coast, but as the market filled up, these babies were just simply taken to slaughter – horrible idea. Eventually several organizations began rescuing these horses – and, to cut a long story short, I adopted three of them, my huge black and white gelding, Chikala, who was 2 years old at the time, and two 6 month old babies, all of them up for slaughter. One of the babies found a good home somewhere else in the area, Chikala is, of course, my horse, and Bertie, the filly, became Steve’s horse, to break in and ride while he is here.
As Bertie is his horse, nobody else rides her while he is back in the UK, so when he climbed on board, his first day here, she was understandably fresh. Bertie is a great little filly – but she has one “hole” – she is a little touchy about anything banging around on her back behind the saddle cantle. Steve knows that, and he has been always very mindful of that idiosyncrasy of hers, gradually breaking her of it. Anyway, on this first ride this time, he saw that there were a handful of baby calves belonging to some first time heifers out beyond the fence in the North Cochise Pasture. He stepped off Bertie, moved the calves back, fixed the fence, and then somehow, while he was still standing beside her, something behind the saddle cantle made a noise, and Bertie jerked the rein out of Steve’s hand, and took off at a high lope, disappearing out of sight over a little hill in the middle of the North Cochise Pasture. Next thing Steve saw around the hill was the view of Bertie taking a leap across the fence, taking some 30 ft. of fence wire along with her. How she didn’t get tangled up in it and cut up, we will never know. She cleared it, and hightailed it over along the road to the front gate of the ranch … without a scratch … and stood there, calmly waiting for him… Amazing things that can happen with horses – to see the fence one would think she was cut up like hamburger meat!And finally, let me acquaint you with what is, arguably, one of the silliest things I have done in the last many years! I had a couple of friends from Canada visiting, one of them being Kitty, once the Barn Boss at Grapevine. We were passing through the town of Benson, I remembered I had to get something at the feed store, so we swung by there – and ooops! The Devil smiled. At the door was a little cage with two puppies in it. As I went by, somehow the cage door opened, and one of them toddled in after me. Naturally, I bent down to pat it on its little head – and right there I lost the battle. I had always said I would never, ever again have a puppy – they are so much trouble to raise, they piddle everywhere, they are disobedient, they chew on things, better to get a grown rescue dog, like my Tuffy…. And on and on and on…. And so, here I sit, scratched and bitten all over, with not one, but two puppies sleeping peacefully on the sofa, snoring little puppy snores – sleeping peacefully, I might add, only because they spent the whole day devilling the living daylights out of me – so sure, now they can sleep, while I get around to doing things I should have done before, like writing this blog. They are a mix of Weimeranar and something else, so far unknown, possibly bulldog, by the look of their comical little faces, and I am hoping that the something else will modify the Weimeranar tendency to hunt. We called them Bella and Buster, and, as they are as alike as peas in a pod I kept getting them mixed up, until I bought them puppy collars, in blue and pink. Now they look very smart and, hopefully, will learn their names! My dog Tuffy has been viewing this invasion of noisy brats with sniffing disdain, as if she were saying “I CAN’T believe you did this!!!” but, as the days have gone by, she has evidently decided that she had best make peace with the brats, and she has begun to raise them, so to speak – to chastise them when they get too rough, and to play with them … on her terms.
I think I mentioned the bull Tommy I bought for the first time heifers, about a year ago. Tommy is a well bred, truly beautiful Black Angus bull, guaranteed to throw small birth weight calves. Danny and I named him Tommy after the breeder, Tom H., and the program was so successful that this year, when we needed to keep back many more heifers, and needed to get another small-calf bull, we went back to the same breeder. In fact, I bought two bulls – another heifer bull, and a second one for the bigger cows. I was telling the breeder how successful Tommy was with the heifers when I noticed a peculiar look come over his face – then I remembered that his name is Tom, too – and that my comments had naturally startled him – he appeared to be quite sure that he, himself, hadn’t bred any of my heifers!!The other heifer bull will rejoice in the name of KB, short for Kate’s Bull, as she is the year round resident cowboy on Grapevine, and takes specially good care of the heifers who are pastured in the headquarters pasture – until it sells, one of these days, soon, we hope! The other new bull, for the grown cows, will enjoy the name of Hardy, a contraction again of the breeder’s last name. I guess I should explain – cows are ear-tagged and have numbers only, but the bulls, like the expensive royalty that they are, are number tagged, but also enjoy pet names – so we have Goldybull, Leroy, Splash, to name just a few. So much more fun than saying: “I saw Bull Number XB3 out there this morning…”
And so the days go by….. my Australian family arrives tomorrow, some more friends the day after that, then the round up begins – and another year in the cattle raising cycle starts over again. How many is that now? At three per year, well over sixty …. Perhaps seventy, who knows! But always exciting, always enjoyable, always new. So I guess that’s the stuff that a good life is made of – something new …. like two little naughty puppies…
Till next time!!
Note from the Webmaster: Eve, I had such a wonderful time and I thank you! Portal was heaven on earth and though it was a short visit, it is one that will always be treasured.