Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where is my freakin knife

Well it was another wonderful late winter day here in the eastern Washington desert. There was some rain overnight and into mid morning which is always welcomed for the most part. By mid day the sun was out and the temperature rose to 50 degrees. All the early spring cool season grasses look like they are going to get a great start. It is drizzling outside again tonight. I just hope the temperatures and the moisture continues.

There were 3 more new calves today and I actually was able to get every one of them tagged. Last weekend Dakota commented that maybe there were more calves without tags than with them judging by the printed tags on the dash of my pickup that have yet to be applied to some calves. She is kind of a smart butt and I have no idea where that comes from. I have noticed something over the years related to the size of the dashboard on most vehicles. The pickups of the 50 and 60’s vintage had maybe 2 inches at most of a dash because the windshields were straight up and down for the most part. The more aerodynamic vehicles get the larger the surface area of the dash becomes. For someone like me that is both a blessing and a curse. If my dashboard gets much more cluttered with crap I am going to have to get a booster seat for my butt and cut a hole in the roof to stick my head out so I can see forward because stuff will be stacked to the top of the windshield.

The driver side seat in my pickup is very worn and torn and has lost much of its inner foam filling. To compensate for this I have a folded up pair of old Carhartt bib overalls in the seat. About once a week I have to refold and “fluff” the overalls to make the seat feel right for my Wrangler covered butt. Today when I pulled the overalls from the seat a lock back knife jumped out of the overalls. This made me very happy and excited. Anyone who has fed hay over a winter knows that something to cut bale strings is an often sought after tool. This particular knife was a $3 Wal-Mart special I had given myself for Christmas. Actually I gave myself 3 of them but had temporarily lost them all.

I know why I lose so many knifes but old habits are hard to break. One place I lose them is in my lower right side coat pocket. The pocket has a hole just large enough for a knife to slip through and I often forget this. Someday some young archeologist will find an extraordinary number of knives in the soil on my place and think some kind of wild knife wielding civilization must have lived here. I wonder if they will be perplexed by the strange hieroglyphics on the knives that reads “made in China” Sometimes in the summer I will find a knife lying on the ground from the previous winter and feel like I have somehow screwed the Chinese economy.

I have used all kinds of items to cut bale strings over the years. All kinds of knives including utility knives, pocket knives, linoleum cutters and even a few from the butcher block on the kitchen counter. When I take these it is always for emergency use only and I promise to return them at the end of the day. If you get Christine in the Christmas gift exchange her butcher block is nice but mostly empty. If you cannot find a knife you can use many other items and with some cowman ingenuity you can cut the bale strings. The old trick of using one already cut string to cut the others by sawing back and forth to create enough friction will eventually cut the strings or start a small hay fire.

Here are a few other items I have used in a pinch to cut bale strings; fencing pliers, shovel, hammer with a rock under the string, pipe wrench as a hammer with a rock under the string, rock as a hammer with another rock under the string, a vice grip squeezed extra tight, a cut aluminum bee…ummm soda can, glass from a broken bee…umm soda bottle, scalpel from the medicine chest, emasculator, electrical wire, pitchfork handle twisted many times, modified wire hanger, sickle section, hacksaw with or without the handle, plastic edge of a cassette tape holder, plastic edge of a broken cassette tape, broken piece of pvc pipe even a butane lighter can be used if it is not too windy and the cows do not need to be fed in a hurry.

One winter when Dakota was 3 or four she was riding in the back seat in her booster chair and had a Barbie coloring book, crayons, glue, pencils, markers and one other item in a pretty pink carrying case. We were out feeding some cows and as is often the case Dad could not find a suitable item for cutting bale strings. To this day I still feel guilty for losing those pink handle rounded tip safety scissors of hers I lost that snowy day.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the striped skunk aka Mephitis mephitis with 13 subspecies.

Today’s picture is of four calves as you can see, what I found to be cool is you can tell who the four moms are just by their attention to me taking the picture instead of the hay.