The first week in June, Andrea and I moved the rest of our cattle to the middle range pasture and Jim got started on the fence we're building to divide our 320-acre hill pasture. Much of the fence goes along a steep rocky ridge, making it hard to dig postholes.
Jim got a hammer drill to chisel through the rocks (using our portable generator for electricity - hauling it on our 4-wheeler trailer) which saved a lot of time. He now hasall the braces in for the mile of fence and Lynn has been setting steel posts.
Now that the cows are off the low range, we put the young bulls on our adjacent hill pasture. It saves hay and they do better on pasture with exercise.
We never feed grain to our bulls; they grow up on roughages - as do our cows. They take a little longer to reach full size than grain-fed bulls, but they grow up more athletic and fit. We want genetics that create efficient, fertile cattle on what our ranch produces - hay and dryland mountain pasture.
We had cold, wet weather most of June with temperatures rarely above 50degrees - new snow on the mountains and several freezing nights.
Jim and a friend kept working on the fence as they could, taking tarps for shelter in heavy rains. Andrea and I got soaking wet several times when riding to check the range cows. Folks that started haying in June had trouble getting their hay up. But this past week it finally got to be summer.
Fence Cutters On one of our range rides, Andrea and I discovered a hole in the fence between our range and the neighbor's where someone cut the wires and drove a pickup through. They tied three of the wires together but it was saggy and wouldn't hold cattle. We came home and got a small roll of smooth wire for splicing, a hammer and fencing tool and rode back and fixed the fence.
We often use a hammer for splicing and tightening wire. It's handy when you don't have a fence stretcher or don't want to pack one on a horse.
To start the splice, we make a loop in one end of the broken wire and run the other piece through the loop. If there isn't enough slack in the broken wire to do this, we add a piece of smooth wire to make it longer.
Then the hammer is placed against the wire with the loose end anchored between the hammer claws, and the wire is rolled around the hammerhead as many twists as necessary to get the wire really tight. Once it's tight, we untwist the hammer, leaving the wire still tight where it bends. Then we can twist the remainder of the loose end around the wire, finishing the splice.
Using a hammer, the wire can be pulled tighter than by hand, making the bend in the wire tight enough to hold until you finish by wrapping it around itself.
Many Visitors We had a lot of visitors this past month, including friends and relatives who came for little Emily's baptism.
A friend who works for the Forest Service in Canada was here on vacation with his wife and rode with me one day when I checked cattle. He was impressed by the health and vigor of our range, especially the riparian areas, and took photos. We have water troughs in most of these small draws and the cattle prefer to drink out of the troughs, sparing pressure on the seeps and small streams.
Lynn and one our neighbor's boys finished setting the steel posts for the new fence, and we will start putting wire up as soon as we get a chance. Right now, Lynn is busy irrigating and getting our machinery ready to start haying. The grass hay grew well during a cool, wet June, but the alfalfa's been slow. By the time we're ready to hay, it might be ready to cut.