19 September 2018 – Foggy and 57 degrees

It has been somewhat of a stressful weekend here on the Holler.  This follows a really nice week of travels and leisure.  Dave and I looked at each other last week and he said, “The wood shed is full, all the hay is in the barn.  The fences are all up except for the gates into the barnyard.  Let’s go somewhere for a couple days.”  We settled on Billings, Montana.  So off we went for a 3-day vacation.  The drive through Wyoming and along the Big Horn Mountains was spectacular. We had perfect traveling weather and Joey just rode along happily in the back seat of the truck, occasionally sitting up to check out the scenery.

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Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming

We stopped just North of Gary Owen, MT (I wonder why Gary got a town named after him) and went to the National Cemetary and the site of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.  It was really a beautiful cemetery and Dave and I both appreciated being there on September 11th.

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Flag at half staff on September 11th, Little Big Horn National Cemetery

After visiting the cemetery, we drove through the battlefield and saw the monument to Custer’s Last Stand as well as multiple US Soldier markers and Native American markers. Dave and I really enjoy these historical sites, and we always try to educate ourselves before we get there.  This time we watched a couple of National Geographic videos on Amazon about the battle, and it really helped us appreciate what we were looking at.

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Zoom in to see all the grave markers along the trail.  A beautiful day to explore the battlefield.

We continued to Billings and enjoyed some big-city cuisine including delicious New York style pizza the first night and German food the next.  During the day we hiked along the Yellowstone River and explored the downtown Billings Brewery district.

 

It was great to just get away and not feel the weight of the endless list of tasks that need to be completed here at home. On the way home, however,  we stopped and picked up the gates we needed to enclose the barn. We returned home on Thursday night and were so happy to be back on the Holler.  It is really difficult to explain how un-citified we are now, and although we’ve only been here two and a half years, we have become completely intolerant of traffic, crowds, city noise, and having to keep the dog on a leash. Nothing in Billings could compete with the freedom, peace, and quiet of home so we were happy we went, but happier to be back.

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A Northern Flicker on the southern deck

Then the weekend came and things got a little hectic.  Friday, we installed the gates to prepare for the Cows to be let out in our pasture. Rancher Dave has gotten pretty adept at hanging gates, which is harder than it sounds.  You have to make sure they are centered, level, and when there are two that meet in the middle, they have to match up so they don’t overlap or leave too big of a gap.  I think he planned and executed pretty well.

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Enclosing the barnyard
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Notice how level the gates are and how nicely they meet up.  Not easy, unless you’re Rancher Dave.

Friday night, poor Joey showed up with a golf ball sized sac on the right size of his throat. We thought he got stung by a yellow jacket because of the size and speed of which the lump came up, and by Saturday morning it was the size of a tennis ball and as hard as a rock.  I gave him some Benedryl, still believing he had some sort of sting, but he just vomited it up and started to seem really lethargic and sad.  Of course, dogs only get sick on the weekend in between normal vet office hours.  By Sunday morning Joe had a mass the size of a softball sticking out of his neck, just under his ear.  He was really listless, obviously sick, and Joey can do sad eyes really well.  Poor puppy!  While debating a trip to the emergency vet, the fire department pager went off.

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Joey’s swollen throat

It was definitely my turn to respond, so I spent all of Sunday “fighting” a wildfire.  I actually did drag some hoses, dig some trench, and put some water on fire, but fortunately it wasn’t that big of a fire and the winds weren’t too strong so we contained it relatively quickly.  The time-suck of fire fighting is the “mop-up” phase where you have to make sure the fire is completely out.

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Mop-up

Returning home Sunday evening, Dave and I determined Joe was looking about the same but needed to go to the vet first thing Monday morning.  We have an incredible Vet Clinic about 24 miles south of here in the town of Edgemont, and they are always busy but said to bring him in and they would work him into the schedule.  Joey has an infected abcess and now has three holes in his jaw to drain out the pus and blood.  Oh the glamorous side of ranching!  He got sent home with the cone of shame on his head and some strong antibiotics.

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Sad Face
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Still swollen on the right side and punished with the cone of shame.

He has had a rough couple of days, but this morning he is back to his normal happy puppy self. His face is still swollen, he looks like he got into a boxing match.  Despite the cone, he wants to run and chase rabbits and is continually dragging the cone through the dirt and grass making it nearly impossible to keep his neck clean as his abcess drains.  We are so pleased that he didn’t have some rare fast growing tumor and that he should make a full recovery. Also completely grateful for the amazing vets and staff at the Cheyenne River Animal Hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the barn……I went to check on the cats the morning before we took Joey to the vet and I found Goose, but no Maverick.  I was really worried all day because Maverick has been digging his way out under the barn door and exploring at night AND we hear coyotes every night!  When we returned from the vet, there was still no sign of Maverick and Goose was looking worried and lonely. Linda put my mind at ease a little, because she believed there was a strange new critter living in her barn.  Her barn cats were throwing a fit and she could hear some cat noises, and she thought it might be Maverick.  We went to bed for another restless night of worrying about a sick dog and an eaten cat, only to find in the morning that Maverick had returned. Hooray for the little devil. Maybe he just wanted to make friends with the neighbor cats.

Finally, on Monday, we rounded up all the cows from the neighbor’s northern pasture and drove them down Stagecoach Springs to the Holler.  They seemed to know exactly where to go and when we opened the gates, they began kicking and bucking and running after the Mule, and then around the Mule, and in front of the Mule.  We were smack dab in the middle of a stampede, dust, cow manure, snorting heifers, kicking cows and all the fun stuff that comes with them.  Typical Monday.

 

Today, Dave loaded up the wood box and put it on the front porch.  Summer is almost over and the last two years, we have had a sprinkling of snow by the 10th of October.

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Rancher Dave doesn’t look too excited about winter

The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooling off, and the elk are bugling at dusk and dawn.  Despite a few worry-filled days, things seemed to have settled down and worked out for the best. I’m sitting here writing this with Joey’s cone-head on my feet as he snores away.  I know the two kitties are safe and sound in the barn and I can see 15 cows in my yard, happily munching away on what is left of forageable grass.  Rancher Dave is settled in for the night, watching Youtube videos for his next wood-working project. It’s not cold enough for a fire in the wood stove, but there is just a hint of chill in the air. I am so relieved that my dog and cats are okay, and a little mad at myself for worrying so much about them. I guess sometimes I just need to remind myself in the words of that great poet, Kenny Chesney, “Everythings gonna be alright!”  Cheers, everyone!

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Happy cows on the Happy Holler