R.I.P., Rosie

IMG_8365.JPG

“I’ll just have a little nap” . . . .

A little dog came into my life one winter day, and soon came to be my best friend, protector, and daily shadow.  She was fearsome, and stood her ground when a vet-tech brought her into my home in Laramie.  She was wet from a bath and it was February.  I remember going for a towel to dry her and gave her a good rub to reduce her shivering. A friend’s big dog (about 10 times her size as a 4-month-old puppy) tried to offer a friendly sniff and she bristled and barked, approaching the much larger dog in an aggressive stance that said, “don’t mess with me!”  I had no need of a dog and tried to convince the kindly vet-tech that, although this little dog desperately needed a home, I was much too busy to get involved with owning a dog.

IMG_8270.JPG

“I know this is TuTu’s throne, but I can fit!” . . . .

Sooooo, ten years later I am left with trying to figure out how to fill the hole left in my life by the loss of this little dog, who I named Rosie (my mother’s nickname) and came to love dearly.  She died after a four-day struggle with what we can only surmise was due to ingesting something poisonous or toxic.  We are still puzzling over what it could be–a dead animal carcass?  The vet said that can cause botulism but Rosie’s symptoms would have been more severe immediately.  Rat poison?  Again, the vet said they ran a test that ruled out that as a cause.  Fertilizer?  We have none on the premises, having used all we purchased last fall on the lawn.  Our garden fertilizer is kept in a secure place.  A dispenser with Round-up was sitting on the porch where I left it recently, but would have required Rosie to open the handle, depress the pump and drink out of the hose.  Not likely she would have been attracted to the taste or smell even if she could have managed to drink it.

IMG_7970.JPG

“A little sun is nice” . . . .

We were on the way home from a trip to Colorado when we got a call from Joyce, our caregiver.  She was alarmed that Rosie was nowhere to be found as she was doing evening chores.  A little dog who for 10 years has always been at the gate or nearby, waiting for the people who matter to her to return, had disappeared.  When we arrived home it was growing dark but we began the search with flashlights.  We called her name, whistled and poked into all the sheds and likely places for her, to no avail.  By 10:00 p.m. we gave up and went to bed.  I did not sleep but tried to imagine why Rosie would have vanished.  And shed a lot of tears.

IMG_6668.JPG

“They could make these cat beds a little bigger!”

We put a photo of her in the post office and hoped if she had decided to leave home to find us, someone would have seen her along the highway.  We knew something was really wrong with her, because there were dark ominous stains on her sleeping pad out on the porch and her nighttime perch on our sofa was stained.  Rosie must have been mortified, because she has never in her entire life left a mess in the house. Later that morning Michael was coming from dropping off a salt block at the pond, and saw a white blob near a neighbor’s cattle guard.  He drove closer and found Rosie, still alive but barely.  When I saw him walking up the road toward our house with her in his arms I thought she was dead.  When I called to her,  she lifted her head.  We wrapped her in a blanket and raced to the vet clinic in Kaycee with her, knowing there wasn’t much time.

IMG_6378.JPG

The straw boss . . . .

Rosie never left our side.  Our daily travels are as varied and taxing as can be imagined but Rosie was not to be left behind.  She would snarl at Ricky, our goose if he became too aggressive when I penned them at night; she flew at Cromwell, our rooster when he decided to get too frisky as I was placing feed in his pan; she nipped at Michael and the entire universe of visitors if they came too close to me, which could be exasperating.  We tried a variety of things to reduce her insistence on protecting me, fearing she would eventually bite someone and we’d be in real trouble.  Nothing would deter her.  Michael fed her daily, warming her food and trying to win her over.  After nearly eight years, it didn’t make any difference.  She loved him too, but not enough to alter her fierce protection of me.

005.JPG

“Bleu is bugging me!” . . . .

Competition for attention was foremost in Rosie’s mind.  If our cats Bleu, Oscar, TuTu or Mr. Mouse came around for a rub or a scratch, Rosie could not tolerate it.  Consequently, the cats migrated to Michael’s lap, leaving me off limits and bereft if Rosie was around. When I worked with Tilly, our horse, Rosie was vigilant and would try to sneak in a nip at her tail, which would get her a scolding and banishment from the barn.  She would wait patiently in a shady spot nearby, watching and waiting for me to finish.  To understand her psychosis, one must merely know that she is half Border Collie and half Australian Shepherd.  She looks more Aussie, but her obsessive compulsive personality is pure Border Collie.  She loves to herd the guineas and chickens and while her methods are not always successful, her failures can largely be attributed to her mistress who has done a lousy job of training her!

028.JPG

“More critters to herd!” . . . .

X-rays determined Rosie had no broken bones or bruising, nor obstructions from a bone in her digestive tract.  She had suffered from severe diarrhea which had evolved into a yellow fluid leaking from her behind which she seemed unable to control. She was severely dehydrated.  She could stand for a short period, but could not walk. Diagnosis was inconclusive.   We were referred to a clinic in Sheridan, 84 miles north.  As we neared town, Rosie seemed to rally a bit.  She moved around on her pad into a new position and when I looked back at her, she was trying to sit up, panting and grinning like she always does when she gets to go with us for a ride.  High on her list of favorite things to do was go for a ride and her only regular opportunity was a monthly trip to the landfill in Brownie, our old trash truck.  Now here she was, getting a real long ride!

004.JPG

Coming up Rosie . . . .

We answered a battery of questions regarding Rosie’s environment as they prepared to do more X-rays, ultrasound and get her on fluids and antibiotics. We left her believing she would perk up and overcome whatever illness she was suffering from.  A lengthy message from the vet when we returned home confirmed all the ongoing tests and efforts being made in her behalf throughout the day since we had departed. We were to pick her up in two days since we had dental appointments in Sheridan and we were confident that she would recover. The next morning we had another message from the vet with a lengthy update and a request that we call her.  The update was not encouraging and I began to fall apart again. After a thorough discussion with the vet, we concluded we should return to Sheridan right away and bring Rosie home.  We would care for her over the weekend and have her euthanized at home.

The only diagnosis the vet could come up with was a wild card and quite rare–dysautonomia–a condition currently under study at the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab.  Some, but not all of Rosie’s symptoms seemed similar.  It typically appears in dogs age three or younger; living in rural areas; spend half time outdoors; and it is prevalent in Kansas, Missouri, and some reports in Oklahoma.  The vet had arrived at no conclusions on this diagnosis. She was not optimistic they could do more for her, however.  Rosie’s vital signs were all pointing in the wrong direction.  She offered to euthanize but we declined, deciding to bring Rosie home and say our goodbyes.  We picked up some supplies for her care and when we arrived at the Sheridan clinic, we were ushered into the waiting room while they prepped Rosie to go home.  After what seemed an interminable amount of time, the vet came to us with the bad news that Rosie had just died, probably just a few moments before we arrived.  Her IV pump had stopped and they did not notice right away.  We were devastated.  I only wanted to hold her once more and tell her how much I loved her.  I was too late.

IMG_8442.JPG

A quiet place in the orchard . . . .

We buried her wrapped in a shroud in a white cardboard coffin furnished by the vet, with a few mementos tucked inside.  The fruit trees and flowering shrubs are just beginning to bloom, and the Maine bell hanging above her chimes softly in the breeze.  I will plant a climbing rose bush in the hope it will cling to the rustic metal stock panel we erected in the orchard as yard art.  It will be a place we visit often.

IMG_8443.JPG

R.I.P., Rosie . . . .

Tilly Goes To School

IMG_7422

“So, what’s up?” . . . .

The Ides of March

Monday, March 13, 2017 was a noteworthy day.  Call it bad luck, bad Karma, bad timing or just plain bad news.  The minute the stock trailer rolled into the barnyard, Tilly started having fits.  She knew it wasn’t her trailer and I guess she smelled a rat.

IMG_5668.JPG

Nothing to get excited about, Tilly . . . .

The following photographs of Tilly capture her typical fit.  The actual events of March 13 could not be photographed because all hands were on the end of a rope.  This is how things went.

IMG_5666.JPG

“I’m going to act up a bit here” . . . .

At four years old, Tilly is ready for the next step in her development–saddle training by a pro who can get her attention.  She has been a fine filly since we got her at six months as a weanling, giving us fits at times but basically being cooperative and showing real signs of intelligence.  I had her in a daily routine of desensitizing tactics, lunge exercises, and a pretty thorough grooming ritual.

IMG_5671.JPG

“I hope they’re watching me” . . . .

We had previously worked with Tilly tying her to a patience pole, saddling her with a bareback pad and then a real saddle.  She was reasonably calm.  She crow-hopped a couple of times with the saddle, but settled down to her lunge routine.  Being very head strong and sensitive about her mouth, she gave us resistance to a snaffle bit.  We succeeded in getting it on her but not without a fight.  I attribute some of this resistance to several nasty procedures she has undergone to clear up infection in her throat and gutteral pouches, as well as treating an eye for a corneal tear from a weed stem that poked through her face mask.  Ah, horses can be a wonder!

IMG_5670.JPG

“I’m really getting wound up” . . . .

But I digress.  Back to March 13th, an unlucky day if you see it from Tilly’s perspective. Not only did she start to act up in the corral, she carried on her tantrum and resisted getting into the stock trailer.  Ord and Michael had to push her from behind with a large cotton rope (this was not our first rodeo) while I hung onto her lead rope and tried to steer her into the trailer.  Finally she knew she had to do it and jumped in.  I fastened her lead to the ring at the end of the trailer and closed the inner gate on her.  We loaded several bales of hay, closed the end gate and she was ready to ride, wide-eyed with fear.

Memories

015.JPG

“I think I’ll have a bite of this straw” . . . .

I miss her terribly and spend time looking at all the photographs we have captured of her since she was a weanling.  This is one of my favorites which I used on our Christmas card.  She is wearing a personalized halter which was a gift from Kristin and Chris.

IMG_5742.JPG

“Can’t scare me!” . . . .

We borrowed a youth saddle to place on her first, since it would not be so heavy and cause her much alarm.  Her expression says it all.

IMG_5761.JPG

“I’ll get rid of this thing” . . . .

She is trying to dislocate her snaffle bit, which she found quite annoying.  Boy is she in for some surprises!

071.JPG

“I’m just a little girl” . . . .

My first sight of Tilly, after waiting eleven months for her birth on Mother’s Day, 2012.   We engaged a mare that belonged to my niece Sue, selected a sire after a few months of research and we were on our way.

057.JPG

Tia and her baby . . . .

Tilly’s sire is a handsome black and white tobiano paint, Sugs Tru Luck, and we hoped she would have his coloration.  When breeding for color, anything goes.  Tilly’s dam is a registered paint breeding mare, although she is predominantly sorrel.  Tilly seems to have taken on the colors of JB Classic, her grandfather who was a sorrel overo.  Tilly is registered as a bay tobiano/overo.  She has blue eyes.

Meanwhile, back at the barn

IMG_8296.JPG

Tilly’s new yoga mat . . . .

In Tilly’s absence we laid a wooden plank floor in her stall and covered it with heavy rubber stall mats.  The ancient barn where she lives had a dirt floor and she had dug a hole in her favorite corner that went down to hard-pan clay and was a mess to clean up.

IMG_8301.JPG

Oscar does a test drive . . . .

The mats will cushion Tilly’s legs and feet while she is indoors.  They are also easy to sweep clean and remove the wood chips that go down each day for her bedding.  We did some additional strengthening of the walls, patched a leak in the roof, and we are ready for Tilly when she comes home.  In the meantime, I have to wait for Ord to call me and tell me 1) he needs more hay; 2) she is ready for visitors; or 3) she is ready to come home. He made it perfectly clear HE WOULD CALL ME.  I got the message.

Chicken House Rules

My little flock of 21 laying hens (plus one rooster and a few guineas thrown in) are great fun.  Certain individuals become dear friends and have conversations with me when I visit the hen house in the morning and evening to fill their feeding stations and gather eggs. We recently watched my favorite film “Cider House Rules” yet again, and it set me to thinking about some Chicken House Rules for my girls.

IMG_8220.JPG

“Cards, anyone?” . . . .

On this particular day, the girls are hopeful to go outdoors.  They have been shut in for 24-hours due to a nasty spring snowstorm that dumped 6-8 inches of new snow.  I believe we can relate to how they feel!  A mix of Barred Rock, Ameraucana, Buff Orpington, Silver Lace Wyandotte, White Tufted Black Polish and Australorp round out a colorful display with personalities to match.  They give us eggs of all colors and so delicious to eat!

IMG_8212.JPG

“Carrot peelings for lunch again?!” . . . .

Goldie, an Ameraucana, is typical of her breed. Shy and aloof, these girls like to roost on the highest outpost–in this case on top of the screen door that hangs ajar inside their ancient chicken house. It allows just enough space to perch for the night and typically there are three of them teetering on top of the door.  I don’t know how they decide who gets to perch there – they must draw straws! A little bit wild, these girls can fly over the fence into the yard and do so regularly, which is discouraged. They have figured out there is a good snack in the garden shed where Oscar and TuTu reside and if I don’t lock the door, they clean up the bowl of dry kibble.  Ameraucanas lay the most beautiful green and blue eggs and are very hardy.  Some of the girls are getting old by chicken standards, but they keep on keepin’ on.

IMG_8214.JPG

“What’s this about Rules?” . . . .

Luvena and her Barred Rock sister Vonna are two favorites.  Inquisitive, gentle and always under foot, they like to carry on a conversation when you are close by.  Luvena in particular is very gregarious and even as a chick, she would come to the door and peer up at me with great curiosity while the other chicks would huddle in the corner, afraid to come forward. You can be sure she will be giving me a piece of her mind about the Rules.

IMG_8219.JPG

“Have you seen the Chicken House Rules?” . . . .

  1.  Please don’t dribble in the food bowl if you have been drinking.
  2. Please don’t smoke on the roost or use candles.
  3. Please don’t go up on the roof if you’ve been drinking–especially at night!
  4. Please don’t take bottles with you up on the roof.
  5. Please don’t go outside to sleep if you are very hot or have been drinking.
  6. Please give your food order to the chicken house keeper before 7:00 a.m.
  7. There should be no more than half dozen chickens on the roof at one time.
  8. Please don’t sit in the nest too long–other chickens need to use them!
  9. Please do not break any eggs in the nest.
  10. Please do not leave messes in the nest – Cleanliness is next to Godliness!
IMG_8211.JPG

Chicken Fruit . . . .

The Rules are posted where everyone can see them, and the girls for the most part are trying to observe them.  They know they will be rewarded with good groceries and lots of love.  What more can a chicken ask?  Nevertheless, I believe some of the commentary from the free-thinkers is rising to a Greek chorus.  “What do they think we are,  just dumb chickens?”  “Who decided we need rules?”  “We do the work around here, laying eggs right and left!””What about us?” “Are we just a basket of deplorables?””The sky is falling!”

IMG_8246.JPG

“Now where do I wish to sit?” . . . .

The girls are assembling on the roosts for the night and will rise at dawn to begin a new day. Perhaps tomorrow we will have a Town Hall and discuss the Rules.   Hopefully they will settle down before feathers begin to fly and the clucking chorus drowns out the voice of reason.

IMG_8244.JPG

Chicken tanning salon . . . .

Heat lamps have come on and the girls cozy up to catch the warmth.  And now, we close the day with “GOOD NIGHT ALL YOU PRINCESSES OF DRY CREEK, YOU QUEENS OF WYOMING!”

Year of The Rooster

IMG_7447.JPG

Man about town . . . .

The Chinese New Year has just begun and it seemed appropriate to crow a little bit about it.  First, it is my Chinese zodiac sign and 2017 has been declared the Year of The Rooster! Having established that, I will move on to the roosters in my life.  The fine specimen above is “Fonzie,” a white-crested Polish who approached his manhood last summer in a stop and start frenzy of crowing, strutting and running after the hens like a kabuki dancer.  His amorous forays in the chicken yard created hysteria among the hens and two roosters were not in the chicken yard plan.  It was only a matter of time until Cromwell, Rooster Number One escaped his pen and dispatched Fonzie into the great unknown.  Imagining the spectacle of that, I suggested we take Fonzie to the vet to be gently euthanized.  I received a derisive snort from the better half and he promised he would be “gentle” when he euthanized our errant rooster.  I don’t want to think about it.  Moving along.

IMG_6102.JPG

Center stage, Cromwell the Great . . . .

Cromwell’s arrival was a surprise also.  But he was so magnificent a specimen (we are not sure if he is a Leghorn, Orpington or fowl play) that it seemed only natural to allow him to establish his kingdom–for awhile.  He made a great contribution to the flock when he and Betty White hatched a nest of babies.

IMG_7195.JPG

Rite of spring . . . .

From this lovely batch of chicks it was determined we had two roosters.  How to tell?  Some suggested their combs were different.  Another suggestion was that if you grab them by the feet and hang them upside down, the roosters will . . . . .now I can’t remember what they are supposed to do?  By the time we had these chicks, I realized I had exceeded my self imposed limit of 22 laying hens if even half of these turned out to be hens.  After a few weeks, it was time to find four of these babies a new home.  I marched on the brooder house with a fishing net and after a tussle managed to capture four and placed them in a cage for their new owner.  Turns out, the two remaining were hens.  I was happy to be spared the trauma of disposing of another rooster.

IMG_8191.JPG

Portlandia rooster . . . .

A visit to a Portland import/export shop several years ago turned up this wood-carved fellow who won my heart.  He wasn’t all that much fun stuffing in the overhead bin of the airplane, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  He keeps watch over the front yard a safe distance from Cromwell, and was joined by a motley crew of wood and tin imposters.

IMG_8194.JPG

Folk art frenzy . . . .

Roosters arrive in many forms at our house.  I believe I must have a subconscious attraction for them as they seem to have accumulated in various forms. I had to wipe some dust off before taking this picture of Archie, the most flamboyant of the collection.

IMG_8201.JPG

Reginald . . . .

Reggie came as a treasured Christmas gift from a nephew last year and won my heart with his bright colors.  We placed him out on the porch one day when Cromwell was given freedom to roam the yard, which in winter has been quite rare.  Snow drifts have been too deep for poor Cromwell to venture very far.  He ignored Reggie utterly and completely! Probably a good thing, as he might have come away the worse for wear pitted up against Reggie’s sharp metal feathers, comb and beak.

IMG_6329.JPG

Chinese Zodiak Rooster . . . .

This giant bronze was created by contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and displayed, along with the other Chinese zodiak symbols, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming May-October, 2015.

IMG_6328.JPG

Imposing symbols . . . .

The artist of these bronzes, Ai Weiwei, was inspired by an 18th century zodiac fountain in an imperial garden in Beijing.  These images are at least 12 feet tall and were an awe-inspiring exhibit. For all the roosters everywhere, have a splendid year!  Cock-a-doodle- doo!

 

Hearty Irish Stew

IMG_7957.JPG

Ready for the oven . . . .

Great cold weather fare.  Enjoy!

Hearty Irish Stew

3 pounds of boneless beef short ribs, cut into one-inch cubes

3/4 cup flour

3 Tbsp. canola oil

3 Tbsp. tomato paste (I add 1 tsp. sugar)

3 Tbsp. whole grain Irish Stout Mustard

2 – 14.5 oz. cans beef broth

2 – 14.9 oz. cans Guinness draft beer

5 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped

3 Tbsp. dried, crumbled sage

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

16 fingerling carrots (12 larger carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces)

2 medium onions, cut into quarters

3 stalks celery, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Heat large, heavy bottomed soup kettle or crock pot on stove top, add 3 Tbsp. canola oil.  Roll cubed beef in flour until all sides are coated, brown in batches in pot on medium heat.  Remove beef to a platter, set aside.  Add one can beef broth and  tomato paste, simmer 3 minutes stirring vigorously.  Remove brown bits from bottom of pan with spatula, continue stirring until well mixed.  Add whole grain mustard, stir; add second can of beef broth; add garlic.  Simmer three minutes.  Return beef to pot, sprinkle with cracked black pepper and 3 Tbsp. of sage; add one can of Guinness (stir until foam subsides); add carrots, onions, celery and stir to mix all ingredients.  Cover with lid and place in oven, bake for two hours.  Remove, add second can of Guinness, stir well, bake an additional hour.  Garnish with chopped parsley and celery leaves.

img_7960

Ready to eat! . . . .

My version of Irish Stew can almost be eaten with a fork–once the beef and vegetables have been consumed the thick brown broth can be scooped up with a crust of bread. Follow with a cold draft of Guinness, and give a toast to the Irish!

Resurrection

IMG_8121.JPG

Barn Again, Phase II. . . .

Our initial efforts to clean out this ancient shed entailed dropping an old electric light pole that used to have a barn yard light at the top; removing a heavy gate and post left from the corrals that once surrounded the shed;  trenching around the foundation; removing old rotted floor boards and joists; and planting four corner posts in concrete on the east end. We were then out of ideas.  The next phase of restoration was out of our range of capabilities.  There was no going back.  From the outset I knew my only options were to burn it down or rebuild.  And that is what we are doing. We took the project as far as we could, and then had to turn it over to someone who knew what they were doing!  With winter fast approaching we knew we were getting a late start, but what the heck.

IMG_7707.JPG

Burn or build? . . . .

IMG_8122.JPG

Gimme shelter . . . .

Replacing the old roof was the pits.  The carpenter had to cut it off piece by piece and it did not go without a struggle.  The other hard part was replacing and shoring up the foundation. We barely got started before the ground was frozen but still had to deal with snow and freezing temperatures.  We had to shovel snow out of the floor joists before laying the floor and some of the foundation stones will have to be dug in after spring thaw. But onward and upward, as Fitzgerald would say!  (Who the h— was Fitzgerald?)

IMG_7953.JPG

Shovel or rake?  . . . .

After ripping out the old floor boards, this is what I was faced with.  The rake head wouldn’t fit between the joists, so the idiot stick was my solution.  After shoveling out about six inches of dirt, the old floor joists could be pried out.  Old foundation stones were scattered at random.

IMG_7955.JPG

Bottoms up . . . .

Getting to the bottom of things, some of the old timbers were in pretty good shape, others not so.

IMG_7977.JPG

Progress . . . .

The new floor joists are going in.  Before we got the floor boards down we had a major snowstorm and I had to dig several wheelbarrow loads of snow out from between all the joists so we could go forward. Winter construction hazards!

IMG_8126.JPG

An old soul . . . .

I found some old window frames that I am restoring with new glass to place in the openings here and on the south side.  The newly restored tack room will have lots of light!

IMG_8123.JPG

East end . . . .

The section we had to tear off is being rebuilt and will become two horse stalls once again. Feed Lot has been doing daily inspections and I know he thinks this will be his new home. He invited Tilly over to see his new digs but she shied away, not certain what to think of all this excitement.

IMG_7956.JPGWe are trying to preserve the old shed’s character and many oddities and oldies will remain.  This old shelf continues to be useful and for the moment contains some rusty treasures I salvaged from the “big dig” under the floor.

IMG_8124.JPG

Where the cold creeps in . . . .

We will match the lumber on the north wall with old boards we salvaged from the end we pulled down.  Might have to do some replacements and will cut batten strips to replace those that have fallen away.

IMG_8128.JPG

Tin window . . . .

I have no recollection of what might have happened to this window–in the century that has passed since this structure was built anything could have occurred.  I have located old replacement frames and will rebuild these windows for light in what will once again become the tack room. Waiting on the steel and better weather to get the roof finished and detail work finalized.  December and January have been colder and snowier than any recent winter we have experienced.  Murphy’s Law–if it can happen it will!  So far the carpenter hasn’t suffered frostbite, chilblains or any serious condition from exposure to beastly weather–or at least he has not complained.

IMG_8130.JPG

Underpinnings . . . .

We used 6 x 6 treated timbers and old foundation stones to shore up the west end.  It had to be jacked up to get everything in place.  Should be good for another 100 years or so.

IMG_8120.JPG

One of the few nice days . . . .

The old doors will go back across the front of the west end and middle section once they have been rebuilt and reinforced.  The east end section will have to have new doors or gates–decision still up in the air.  We are making this up as we go along!  Stay tuned.

STEER CRAZY

IMG_7426.JPG

“Got hay?” . . . .

Abraham, our favorite steer (he is the only) has a distinct personality, and he’s pretty bull-headed even though (ahem) he is no longer a bull.  When he did not show up for his evening hay, we wondered where he could be.  He always beats Tilly to the barn at feeding time and his absence was noted.  We finally spied him standing somewhat forlornly under the boxelder tree, one of his hangouts.  What could be holding him up?  On closer inspection, we could see he was on the wrong side of the fence that runs adjacent to the tree.  Neither one of us wanted to wade through the snow drifts to inspect the fence line to see how he could have gotten into the neighbor’s pasture.  After a long silence, I volunteered.  Turns out, the fence was fine and it did not appear he had jumped over it. Feed Lot (his pet name) was stubbornly waiting by the fence hoping for a miracle that would make the fence disappear.

IMG_6662.JPG

Pals . . . .

We walked about half a mile back to the road and up the lane to the neighbor’s horse pasture.  The gate was undisturbed, but stock panels that were wired to a post had been forcibly bent until a large opening was evident.  Only one critter around this place could have done that much damage.  A couple days earlier the horses had pushed a panel down from the inside and escaped, but Feed Lot had to bend two panels inward against the post to make his way into the pasture–you guessed it–at feeding time!

IMG_5745.JPG

The horns of a dilemma . . . .

We had two problems at hand.  One was the herd of horses in the pasture where Feed Lot had broken through the fence.  We didn’t dare release them but we had to get Feed Lot through the gate.  I tossed a basket of hay in the far corner of the pasture to distract the horses while Michael worked on steering the mule-headed steer who refused to take any suggestions.  When Michael tried coaxing him toward the gate Feed Lot ran the opposite direction.  We wearied of the chase as the steer grew more belligerent and darkness was falling.  We decided he was smart enough to break in, surely he could break out!  If he broke through the fence again we would have to risk having runaway horses, but temporarily it would solve our problem with the steer.

IMG_4621.JPG

Mother and sons . . . .

Feed Lot’s mother, Panda lives adjacent to the pasture where he was trapped.  Next day  we attempted to round up the lost boy, thinking he would be hungry and ready to listen to reason.  Instead he ignored us and stood in the middle of the pasture bellowing for his mom who responded to his cries of woe by hovering along her side of the fence.  We cut an opening in another section of fence leading to our property in the hopes he would see an escape route and come with us.  I gathered up a bushel basket of hay to coax him but he ignored me.  He ran instead in the opposite direction to the fence-line separating him from his mother and paced back and forth trying to find an opening.  What a mama’s boy!

005.JPG

Baby picture . . . .

How did this adorable creature become a 2,000 pound tyrant determined to have his way? After a considerable amount of time tromping through layers of snow drifts and ice to capture a steer who didn’t seem to believe we had his best interests at heart, we were exhausted.  Then, when it seemed we had lost the battle, Feed Lot took off following the fence in an apparent effort to sort out how he had gotten into so much trouble.  When he came nearer to the opening we cut in the fence, I coaxed him through with the basket of hay.  He didn’t linger long to eat but headed to the barn at a dead run, positioning himself over his uneaten dinner from the night before.  We repaired the fence and walked back to the house to collapse. We know he will try once again to barge through the fence into the neighbor’s horse pasture to mooch a little hay, now that he knows he can breech the stock panels so easily. And we will start all over again. Anybody want a pet steer?