Well, folks, we like to say that everyday is like a holiday around here. And that’s true because we do get to do something we love everyday, even though sometimes the task may not be our favorite- like say fixing fence or even building fence. When it comes to those things, I’m not gonna lie- I’d rather be horseback. On days when there’s nothing pressing to do we basically do whatever we want (chores not withstanding), and of course, when I get a day like that I usually ride, or work on my book, or go take photos. But usually I like to ride.
Today was one of those days where I had something pressing to do. A couple weeks ago, as I was wrapping up my day, I got home, and was here just long enough to enjoy a big glass of water, and realized that I had mares spilling out on to the road through the neighbor’s pasture. So I put them up, but it was too late in the day to go fix the water gap, which was obviously out. If you’re wondering what a water gap is, never fear, the answer’s near.
The next day the neighbor comes over, bringing those same mares, down the road. So I put them in the “Middle Pasture” about three miles down the road. If they get out of that one, ether side is our place, so it’s a bit harder to “lose” them in the country.
Not all of the mares escaped that day, however. There were 5 still in the pasture where they belonged (up in a corner, far away from the water gap that was out), so I left them there.
And today, I needed to find them, get them moved, and pull hair on one of them so I can get a DNA test done for registration purposes.
So I set off for the pasture where I’d last seen them, the pasture we call the Parker Creek Pasture (probably because Parker Creek runs through it! Genius, I know!).
This is what I saw on the way out:
And then I ran across this pretty thing:
I never did get photos of these last year, and now that I know where they’re hiding, I figure it’s time to break out the big guns!
I found more of them, as I searched for the mares:
And then there was this pretty view:
Meanwhile, there’s still no horses in site. I mean, I realize I’m looking for 5 of them, and that’s not that many in a 900 acre pasture, but still!
I decide to finish up searching the East side of the Parker Creek Pasture, by checking the water gap that goes between Parker Creek Pasture and the “Bottom Half” of the Middle Pasture. They were sure original when they named stuff on this outfit!
Notice the hoof prints in the gumbo? I did. And I had an inkling that they’d gotten through right there where the fence was down but I wasn’t sold on that idea, since they may have gone out and come back. After all, I hadn’t checked the West side of the pasture yet.
You can see where I’ve pulled up the washed-out posts and wire because the dirt is dark and wet.
Now, if you’re still wondering what a water-gap is, I shall tell you. Basically it’s a fence that goes into the water. It “gaps” the distance between the shore and the water to keep the animals in their specified location. And they work great, when the river is as high as it has been the last few years. But now it’s down to what I think are normal levels, and the water gaps are mostly washed out due to all the extra water that Lake Ohae/The Missouri river have held the past few years.
I could have sworn I took an “after” photo, but I can’t find it now, so we’ll just have to call this project done. Except that it’s not really. See how there’s a little “lagoon” in front of the river? Well, I didn’t have enough extra wire or posts, or clips to reach that far, so I have to go back and finish the job. It’ll be my Tuesday project, unless something else comes up.
It’s now time to head over to the West side of the pasture, which means crossing Parker Creek. Not usually a big deal. Except that this time, someone failed to recall the week of rain we just had. My usual crossing spot (where I crossed two weeks ago when I put the escaped mares away) didn’t favor me as much this time:
And yes, I’m buried up to the axle.
I should probably back up…
When I first realized I was stuck, my initial reaction wasn’t to take a picture. It was to start hoofing it to the highest hill so I had cell service and could text The Cowboy’s, brother, Bud, to see if he was available to come pull me out. If he wasn’t, I was prepared to walk however far away from home I was- I’m thinking it’s about 2 miles by the way the crow flies, but would have been more than that to walk it, of course.
So up the nearest hill I go- it was a good quarter mile hike at least. So I send this text: “Hey, um, I kinda got stuck in the bottom of Parker Creek, in Parker Creek. Can you help me?”
This was followed by an “I will be right down”, and then I added that I needed to be on the West Side, but that I was stuck in the middle. He asked for further locational directions (lucky for me, I was stuck smack between two old creep feeders and everyone on the ranch knows where they are) and then he suggested I take a photo, so he could determine if it was too wet to bring a pickup- in which case Big Green would have had to make an appearance. I replied that I would have to “go back down the hill”, to which he replied, “You can take a pic from there if you can see where you are stuck”. But of course I was too far away. So I ran back down the giant hill, took two photos and hoofed it up a hill on the West side, since I had a better view of the gravel road from there. Needless to say, I was a hot mess by this point. I had mud on my jeans, on my boots, and in my hair, on my shirt, and I was sweaty from a 75 degree day and a trek up a 65 degree hill or two. I’m not complainin’. I’m just sayin’.
While I was on top of the second hill, I took this photo:
When I saw Bud heading toward me in the pickup, I hoofed it back down the hill and went to sit in the machine. I took this picture of the creek:
Why I thought it was a good idea to cross right there, I’ll never know, save for that it’s worked for me before.
He gets me unstuck and I tell him I will just go around, to which he replies, “just pick a different spot, give ‘er hell, and try while I’m still down here”. So I did. And I made it. I checked the West side of the pasture and no horses. I visited the water gap over there, the one that I knew was out, and well, let’s just say, that one needs work. But there were no hoof prints going around it. I still figured I should cruise home through the neighbor’s pasture just to be sure, plus that way I didn’t have to cross the creek again! By this time it was about 3pm and I hadn’t had lunch yet, so I decide I’ll grab a bite before I check the pasture where the hoof-prints from the water gap led.
After a quick bite, I head down the road and go through the Middle Pasture, to the “Bottom Half”, or the “Sundance Pasture” (as it’s referred to) where I plan to search. There’s three gates from the “Middle Half” into the “Bottom Half” and I opted to cruise through the one in the middle. I search, and see no horses. I check the water gap on the East side, the one I’ve not yet checked this trip (I checked it and fixed it a couple weeks ago) and it’s still in. Then I start to see hoof-prints but I can’t find any horses. So I head West, to the third gate that I’ve not yet been through.
And what do you suppose I saw?
If you guessed a wrecked gate you’d be right!
It’s not supposed to look like that.
I’m not the best fence fixer in the world, but I’m determined to try. So I pull out my new BFF, also known as a Plammer.
They’re a combination fencing plier/hammer. Creative name, right? I was glad that I had those with me, as opposed to a simple pair of fencing pliers (which, by the way, I also had with me), because this gate was wrecked. There were staples on the ground, and I had to take a stay off to get it back to some semblance of straight-ness.
But, I overcame.
This is what it SHOULD look like!
I think it’s appropriate at this time to say that I was praying that the missing mares were in the top-half of Middle Pasture where I’d set out to put them in the first place. I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them all day!
As I drove away from my newly repaired gate, I spotted a mare that I thought was among those MIA. I carefully circled the wagons, and lo and behold, wouldn’t you know it, all the mares are in one pasture. It only took me 2/3rds of the day to figure that out!
Wasn’t it a beautiful evening? It was about 5:30 by the time I found them.
When I got back to the corrals, I found our newest heifer’s, heifer calf sleeping quietly, so I took that chance to tag her:
Isn’t she sweet?
Her mama and her were set up just right to let them out into the big trap now that they’re getting along well. Sometimes first time mamas need a bit of extra help, but she’s really trying hard and her baby loves her, so it was time. I hazed them into the big trap with our other pairs and headed to the house.
Then I sat on the deck and enjoyed a cocktail:
And watched the sun go down:
And that, my friends, ends another day in my life.