The first week in July the cattle ran out of salt at the Bear Trough salt ground, so Lynn took three blocks out on his four-wheeler. He had trouble getting back down the steep mountainsides, however, when the motor on the four-wheeler quit and he had to wrestle with it by hand to a position in which he could start it again.
We spent a few days in July chopping burdock along the creek. We try to get rid of as much as possible before cattle are in these fields in the fall. Not only do the cows get burrs stuck on them if the plant is mature, but there's a risk of getting tiny slivers (from shattered dry burrs) into their eyes, causing serious eye inflammation.
Chop Burdock To Save Eyes We used to have several bad eyes during winter (winter pinkeye) until we discovered burdock was the culprit and began trying to control it. Burdock can be sprayed, but chopping it down when plants are starting to bloom and before the burrs mature, prevents regrowth.
We finished the division fence in our 320-acre mountain pasture, except for putting in metal stays. The L-shaped interior fence was nearly a mile long, and a challenge to build along a rocky ridge. Jim used a rota-hammer drill to bore through the rock for the brace posts, and Lynn used it to make a pilot hole when setting some of the steel posts.
Jim and a neighbor put the wire up in late July while Jim was home from Mackay. We'll get the stays in the fence before we put cattle in there this fall. One or two stays between the posts help keep the fence tight and extend the life of it, reducing maintenance efforts.
In mid-July our weather turned hot and dry and we started cutting hay, about two weeks later than usual. Andrea spent several long days and nights baling (1,600 bales one day) and I took care of baby Emily. She baled the alfalfa between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. while there was a little dew on it to keep the leaves intact. This may be our best alfalfa ever.
We got the hay baled in good shape, but it took a few weeks to haul it, due to heavy thundershowers and several problems with our hay stacker. It's 40 years old and a challenge to keep going.
This week Lynn got all the bales hauled and we started cutting hay again. We don't do all our hay at once because we keep our irrigation water going on part of the place. On our creek we are always short of water in late summer and if we dried up all our fields at once we'd never get them all irrigated again for fall regrowth. Keeping part of the place wet helps keep the underground aquifer recharged and more flows back to the creek.
On days we aren't haying, Andrea and I take turns riding to check the cattle and fences. A couple of weeks ago she found a stretch of down fence where horseback riders had taken clips off ten steel posts in our boundary fence, to put wires down on the ground to ride over. They left it down. This was very frustrating because there were gates not more than 300 yards away. We fixed the fence and made a long ride the next day to make sure none of our cattle had gotten into the wrong allotment and none of the neighbor's cattle into ours.
Last week Lynn hauled salt to the high range pasture. Andrea and I spent a day riding and chopping the larkspur in that pasture, and a few patches of musk thistles in a lower pasture.
This wet spring brought a bumper crop of everything - weeds as well as good grass. By chopping the thistle patches before they go to seed we may prevent such an overabundance next year. We chop larkspur down every year to keep from losing cattle when we go into the high pasture.
This week we're moving cattle into the high pasture; I've been moving them myself while Andrea has been haying. But, she'll take a day to help me gather the last ones and bring the five cows with bull calves home to wean.