Friday, October 15, 2010

Up and down

Wow, what an up and down 30 hours or so. Yesterday Christine called me to let me know that Dakotas volleyball practice had been canceled and to expect her home on the regular after school bus. I smiled knowing I had a very able bodied hired hand that would be available with some daylight. I knew that there was one fall calf that needed some attention because she had a foot rot issue. We got up to the hill pasture and immediately saw we had another issue. There was one of the older calves that were suffering from some type of respitory issue so our job and time needed had increased. As we made a plan of action we also drove around and found that one of the newest calves was suffering some respitory issues as well. I grudgingly sighed and looked at the sun in the sky and questioned if we had enough time to deal with everything and if we could if we did have time.

We made a priority list and decided that it would be best for me to use the Honda horse to either catch in the corral or bulldog the two sickly calves. We had not even found the foot rot calf at this point but that seemed like a small matter compared to the other calves. It did not take long to figure out the Honda was out of gas. We ran down to the shop and got 16 oz of gas out of the gas tank which I knew was all but empty but was waiting to get to the 15th of the month before buying more. The whole time the sun dropped rapidly in the western sky and I was fretting quite a bit. We caught the young calf in the corral and treated him and then let him free to be with his very concerned mother. We then caught the older calf and her momma and treated her but as sick as she was I was not very optimistic about her chances. We were able to catch the foot rot calf and treat her despite the best efforts of her mother to keep us from completing our task. I had went from feeling nothing could go right to euphoria knowing that we had done everything to give the calves our best care possible.

This morning we had our first frost of the fall. As I waited for the pickup to warm up I hoped the older calf we had kept in the corral with her mother would be at a minimum alive. When I arrived at the corral in the crisp morning air I was very encouraged. The calf that seemed so sick 13 hours previous was now active and had suckled her mother completely. I drove around and noticed the younger calf we had treated was feeling much better as was the little girl with the foot rot. The morning was turning out wonderful and as I checked the other pairs I noticed there seemed to be a large amount of traffic coming down Scooteney road and onto Mail road. Hmmm was there some kind of detour? Had there been an accident on highway 17 that was diverting traffic?

I drove to the top of the hill and saw that there was something going on and flashing lights near a neighbor’s house on the highway. I quickly hoped that nobody from the residence had been involved in an accident as I drove down the ditch bank towards the scene. I felt better when I pulled into the yard of Mr. and Mrs. D because Mr. D’s pickup was in the yard, Mrs. D was visible in the window and their sons’ pickup was also in the yard. My security was soon shattered as their son emerged from their home obviously distraught. Without going into details I found out Mr. D had went out to get the newspaper and had been hit accidently by a pickup on the highway in the darkness. My heart sank and knowing the suddenness and shock told their son that if there was anything I could do to please let me know.

I think no matter where someone lives, they have known some “old man of the neighborhood”. The person that knows everyone, knows the history of the area and is just someone that makes your day better whenever you see them and have a chance to speak with them. Many people have told me that my own father was that “neighborhood old man” to them before his passing. Mr. D was my “neighborhood old man”. I had really enjoyed our chats on the ditch bank the last couple of years and there will be a huge hole in many days not seeing him tending to his siphon tubes or tilling his soil on his farm. Mr. D was a master at setting up a moldboard plow and his perfection of his tillage and cultivation was something I often marveled at. His equipment was always impeccably maintained and he would freshly paint his tractors on a regular basis.

The thing I will miss the most though is his smile and demeanor. Mr. D smoked those long skinny cigars that smell so sweet and good and seemed to always be in a pleasant mood. I had rented his cornstalks for grazing a few times. He had been a registered Hereford breeder back in the day and we had some excellent chats and had shared memories of the neighborhood and the cattle business. Knowledge of his passing really ruined what had started out as a nice morning. I changed some water then took the day basically off and went to the cattle auction to keep my mind occupied.

I was hoping to purchase a few bred cows or cow calf pairs today. I was stymied in those efforts by very high prices and lively bidding. Although I was frustrated by that I was also happy knowing that the bovines I currently own are worth more money than I had thought. As I drove home this evening I thought a lot about Mr.D. I do not think I will ever look at a well maintained 4020 John Deere, a rill irrigated field of corn or a perfect tillage job without thinking of him. Christine made lasagna tonight that I will take to the family tomorrow and I want to thank her for that. May God bless this family as they deal with their loss over the next days, a really nice and gracious man is no longer here with us. Mr. D, may all your fields be smooth, all your rows straight and all your weeds be sprayed, shriveled and dead. I will always appreciate knowing you and thank you for being my friend, giving sound advice and helping me through my difficulties of losing Dad.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Coopers hawk aka Accipiter cooperii.

Today’s picture is some of the spring yearling heifers grazing on the hill, corn circle in the background, Scooteney Lake in the far background.