Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A trip to the O.R.

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation.

I took a road trip to Bismarck in between logging 30 hours of saddle time over a 5 day period last week (and that would be 'butt in saddle' hours only).  We have starting gathering for pre-conditioning (administered 6 weeks prior to weaning) calf shots.  Another topic for another post.  Bottom line, lots of riding.

So, last Friday I loaded up the mare we call 'Gabby' and her 2012 filly, the only one of the colt crop this year.  She had been tentatively diagnosed with trauma to the cannon bone growth plate on the inside of her left hide leg, but we needed X-rays to verify this.  And if verified, a large animal surgery room and surgeon to perform the 'stapling' procedure would too be needed.

So it was off to Missouri Valley Vet Clinic on the east side of Bismarck. Several of the veterinarians at this clinic studied pre-vet at NDSU when I was there for my BS, Dr. Voight being one of them.

The two Veterinary Technicians that assisted Dr. Voight in capturing the x-rays of the filly's leg.  Janelle sporting leopard print and Jayme in the zebra print radiology apron.

Dr. Russ Voight confirming the field diagnosis - growth plate trauma / calcification.

After making the educated decision on a treatment plan with all the good information provided by the films and knowledge on growth rates and anatomy with respect to age, the decision was made to proceed with a surgery known as 'stapling'.  A 1 to 2 inch incision is made at the point of the growth plate on the side experiencing rapid growth in an attempt to slow the growth down on that side (in this case, the outside).  This gives the slow growing side (on this case, the inside) a chance to catch up..... helping the leg return to the straight position it was in prior to the trauma (suspected to be getting stepped on while sleeping in the pasture or being kicked by one of the other mares).

Prepping by Janelle, Dr. Voight's Vet Tech. - covering the hoof (a source of contamination) with a rubber glove and then begining to scrub the incision area.

Draping the incision area and blocking the leg for stability.
Making the incision and fitting the staple over the growth plate.

Inserting the staple over the growth plate.

Suturing the incision.
Staple placement confirmation.

The fully padded surgery room with a hydraulic table.
After returning home with this little patient, the treatment plan continued with pain management through medication and sanitary maintenance with every other day bandage replacements.  She also has one more dose of long acting antibiotics to keep possible infection at bay.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Now, lets hope for rapid growth in the third month of this filly's growth before her little growth plate closes.

I'll keep you posted on her progress!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Now there's a good feller! (written August 26, 2012)

Blaine Schaible - March 14, 1948 - August 26, 2011

It was a year ago today that I received the phone call from Carla Schaible that Blaine had just been killed in an accident involving a horse...

Blaine and Carla were great family friends of ours.  When Blaine first moved to Watford City during the oil boom of the 70's, he lived in my Grandma and Grandpa Hovet's basement apartment before moving his family to the area.  That is how we first met Blaine and shortly after, Carla and the kids - Rhonda, David and Shana.

I still remember in those days following Blaine's death, Carla provided comfort to all those who loved Blaine. She was amazing and strong, gracious and brave through those darkest hours and she still is today. It helped to have that comfort, but for the past year, every event at the ranch has been a constant reminder that Blaine is no longer with us in flesh. For those who don't share the unique interest in or have a passion for ranching and making livelihoods tending to livestock and land, it is hard to understand. But for those few who know this 'code of the west', you know you can be in a room full of interesting people, but feel completely alone. On the other hand, if in that room, you find through conversation those other 'fellers' that 'know' and 'share' this code, you feel connected to them, engaged by them, supported by them and most of all, understood. Blaine shared that code. He was known to be a mechanic by trade, but a true cowboy by heart.

The last three or so years of his life, Blaine spent a lot of time at the ranch. He was a great hand and an even better friend.  We miss him.

So on this evening of the one year anniversary of his passing from this world, and now having been through each 'ranching' season of the year with out Blaine, here is a tribute to a 'Good Feller' as shared by Jarvis Sorenson as Blaine's funeral:

Four Little Words
Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

© Jay Snider, All rights reserved

Post Script - As all good procrastinator do, I sat down to blog this tribute a few short hours before wanting to post it.  When I went to Jay Snider's website for FOUR LITTLE WORDS and found the copyright, I immediately emailed him for permission to print it.  He responded to my request with gracious permission to print his pieces and added that after reading the blog, this next piece too might be one for this moment.  I read it and believe that Blaine would love it too.

Of Horses and Men

Some are blessed with tranquil passing
while others met a tragic end.
Truth is, it's never easy
when you've lost a trusted friend.

As horses go, it's sometimes told
in simple words that cowboys use.
He darn sure was a good one.
He’s the kind you hate to lose.

He’s the kind you'd ride the river with,
roam the canyons and the breaks.
In rough country and wild cattle,
he’d be the one you’d take.

His efforts weren’t ruled by stature.
With him you’d finish what you’d start.
His limits were governed only
by the dimension of his heart.

His expectations were simple,
merely fairness from a friend.
But when he’d feel the need to run,
don't try to fence him in.

Pure poetry in motion
as across the plains he’d fly.
A tried and true compadre
in a seasoned cowboy’s eye.

His courage was unmatched by mortal men
from conquistadors to kings.
Cowboys sing his praises
at roundups in the spring.

Ain’t it strange how thoughts of horses lost
mirror those of men passed on.
And though they’ve gone to glory
their spirit’s never gone.

Sometimes simple words seem best
when final words we choose.
He darn sure was a good one.
He’s the kind you hate to lose.

Copyright: Jay Snider 2004 All rights reserved


Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to school...

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation.

It is true.  It is back to school time.  Although Kyle is not a school age child yet, he starts preschool this year at Wiggles and Giggles.  So when Tessa, the owner and manager of his child care facility called to confirm his enrollment today, it was a firm reminder that 'back to school' is upon us.  Shortly after that phone call, Brad sent a text letting me know that he was on his way to NDSU with classes starting tomorrow.  Yes, it is back to school everywhere in North Dakota.

In addition to these affirmative communications, the seasonal changes in the weather have too, been obvious the past three weeks.  The days are getting shorter (where I actually get to see the sun rise on the mornings without an alarm clock) and the nights are getting cooler and crisp. 

And with that, in flow the memories of my past back to school days at WCHS and NDSU.  In my high school days, basketball season had already been underway for a couple weeks with Two A Days creating lactic acid buildup in all the muscles, head to toe. The unpleasant taste of gun metal in the back of my mouth on the last few crunchers of morning practice are vivid.  It was the time to catch up on the summer happenings with friends, as back in those days summer trips to town were infrequent and land line phone communications were limited by parents.

In college it was the excitement of meeting and reuniting with the other 'aggies' in Bisonville.  Due to the fact that all of this was done before the age of cell phones and the Internet, it was necessary to attend the first Saddle and Sirloin Club meeting of the year to exchange land line phone numbers and physical addresses that were ours for the next 9 months.  Crazy.  I know.

So how does all of this reminiscing tie into ranch life in the middle of the craziest little wild west show around?  This past weekend, we had our cowboy style 'back to school' Two A Days or first S & S meeting of the year.  We (and the horses) took full advantage of the cool nights that August has to offer.  We hosted our annual horsemanship clinic weekend.  We did this right before school started to take advantage of the cool evenings which make for more alert and 'eager to learn' students (of the 4 legged variety) and to avoid the day time highs of July in North Dakota that can have a negative impact on everyone participating regardless of species.

I take pride in being a good student if the syllabus tickles my fancy and I have spent a lot of time riding under different clinicians to become a better horseman.  So every late August weekend that I can share these things I have learned over the years from the various horsemen I have ridden with - this is my adult age 'back to school'!

SIDE NOTE - So, shortly after we were married, Pete said to me, "We need a hobby".  Me, "We have one.  The horses".  Pete, "No.  That's a business.  I was thinking more like golfing or the lake or something".  Me, "I don't love golfing or the lake and I don't want to spend a lot of time or any money on those things.  The horses are what I love doing with any extra time there is and they are really easy to spend money on ;)".......... That was the end of golf and lake talk around our house.

This past weekend we had a great time sharing good conversation, wonderful food, and enjoying excellent friendships with our personal, Angus and Quarter Horse friends, The Tastad's from McCumber Angus Ranch near Rolette - Matt, Cynthia, Sydney, Eva and Nate.  Brett stayed home to hang out with his two Grandmas.  In addition to all that, there was schooling - on how to be good communicators with our four legged friends.  Once we all understand each other, that is when trust is built and magic happens!

Teachers are GREAT students.  Here, former high school science teacher and currently, mother of four horse crazy kids, Cynthia Tastad and Hoss watching Pete demonstrate hand positioning while working on side passing.

Eva Tastad and Lenny working on their side passing.  He's not sleeping, just conserving his energy.
Sidney and Pokey, Me and Dos, Cynthia and Hoss, Pete and Eva (the horse), Matt and Jake, Eva (the kid) and Lenny all working on 'lateral movement'.

 After the McCumber Crew loaded up and headed home on Sunday afternoon (with one more horse than they came with... Lenny is a lucky guy), we took a little family trip in the 'Big Red' to put mineral out for the cows.

A commercial recip cow in the Rough Creek pasture posing on one of the prettiest ridges of the ranch on a beautiful Sunday evening.
Kyle would be a good poster child for Vita Ferm mineral (and Lighting McQueen lunch boxes).

So from our end of the road, HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL EVERYONE!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The dog days of summer... and a little cowboy laundry!

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation!

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  It is much worse than that.  I am in the post-haying funk.  I experience two periods of 'funk' each year.  One is that period of time 30 days each side of winter solstice when it seems to be dark all the time.  The other, post haying.  I can't tell you why and although I understand that admittance is the first step to recovery, I'm just not ready to recover yet.

So, the last bale was wrapped up on August 2nd and since that time we have been dealing with a mixed bag agenda.  Unlike last year when we made just over 2,200 bales and busted tail from June 25th to September 7th, this year was nothing like that.  There was a total of just under 700 bales on 160 more possible acres than last year and we had above normal rainfall.  Unfortunately, we also had late frosts and a completely open, bare winter that the alfalfa didn't want to deal with coupled with boring weevils (a bug that destroys alfalfa plants).  A perfect storm of sorts.

So on a report card, haying was a C- at best.  The nice thing, we weren't broke down nearly as much as last year. 

The other really exciting thing that we had to deal with after haying was harvest.  We had custom harvesters lined up who were going to hit us before the spring wheat was ready to go 'up north'.  When Pete tracked them down the first week of August they confessed that we had been squeezed out due to the early maturing of the spring wheat in the high plains this year.  That blow lead to a couple sleepless nights around here..... and those of you that know me know that I sleep regardless of the circumstances.  After hitting the phones, Pete found a really great crew who were first timers to North Dakota this year.

L&L Ag Works custom harvesting our canola.  We were so lucky to find them through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's Harvest Hotline.  Marshall, Mimi, Ed and the girls were great and we were so thankful to have the opportunity to work with them!
Kyle and I in front of the canola before it came down.  It wasn't a great stand, but above average.  We were happy with it considering it was our first year growing it.
In between haying and harvest, we found a little time to take care of some domestic equine chores.  Once a year, we take all of our saddle blankets and cinches off our saddles.  We power wash them with water ONLY (no soap), let everything dry and then oil the leather that gets sweated up throughout the year.

Cinches and saddle blankets drying after being power washed to remove sweat and matted horse hair from them.  This helps keep 'cinch sores' from our horses' girthes and keeps their blankets soft and absorbant.
Brad oiling back cinches after they dried.  Like a good patient, he wore his knee stabilizer and stayed off his leg as much as possible after his We-fest mishap.  We are hoping that his procedure in Fargo goes well tomorrow.
With all that we still had a little time to take in the Home on the Range Champions Ride in Sentinel Butte on August 4th, attend the Watford City Ribfest and Street Fair and get totally wrapped up in the Olympics.

The making of spider man at the Watford City ribfest.
Kyle's best bud, Steph Jore came up to him at ribfest and told him, "My three favorite things all wrapped into one:  spider man, NDSU bison and Kyle Best!".  She got a HUGE grin for that excellent one liner ;).
The Champions Ride was wet this year, but at least it wasn't hot!
The Champions Ride in Sentinel Butte, ND.  A wonderful family afternoon.
Did I mention we took in some homeless folks that showed up at our door step?
We thought they could possibly be the Beverly Hill Billies considering the load they were pulling along with them.  Yes, it is the largest dog house I have ever seen, a lawn mower, bulk gas tank and a livestock watering tank.  It should bring me comfort to know that the new neighbors have a lawnmower, right?..... And yes, that is Sue and Lyle's new house in the back ground.
And alas, we said good-bye to Brad yesterday.  He was told to 'drive safe, listen to his doctor and his mother, do well at school, but not too well, and see you in a couple months'.... Brad and Kyle have the same birthday so there is a party planned for the late October, early November birthdays.... Brad, Kyle, Lee and Pete all have birthdays within eight days of each other.
Until next time, here is to embracing the post-haying funk and rolling with it!