January – December, 2008FAMILY GATHERINGS
∑ Work Week 2008 was June 1-6th. This year, the focus of our collective
efforts was continuing the renovation of the bunkhouse (a.k.a. Gail’s
house). The list of projects were as follows:
o Tom headed up the renovation of the electrical system. A ditch had to
be dug from the power pole that has the RV hookup to the bunkhouse. Due
to the lack of Spring rains, the ground between those two points made
concrete seem downright soft in comparison. Still, Tom persevered with
the Ditch Witch until both he and the machine were on the verge of collapse.
It just so happened that Ray Hartley’s crew showed up to begin installing
the drinkers for the Alamosa water system, and they saved the day by finishing
the trench in no time flat. After getting power to the house, a new circuit
breaker box was installed and the house was rewired. The entire house
had been on only two circuits, and each room had just one electrical outlet
in it—even the KITCHEN! (Sally said that one outlet in the kitchen
might have sufficed for Gail, but today that just would not do!)
o Eric headed up the crew that re-plumbed the house for propane. A new
propane tank was installed behind the house, and the old one was hauled
to the dump. The new propane lines were run from the tank, up the back
of the house, and into the attic. The attic got lots of traffic as sections
of black pipe were cut and shuttled up through the attic along with fittings.
Ed had the first misstep, breaking through the drywall in the bathroom.
This hole was later enlarged by Whittle, but no one actually fell through!
All agreed that it was for the best as the drywall in the bathroom would
have to be replaced anyway due to water-damage is several spots.
o Kristen headed up the earthwork projects. She moved some serious dirt
behind the house as she tried to get the rainwater that cascades off the
mesa to drain away from the house rather than straight into it. She oversaw
the digging of the leach line, with help from Hilary, Nathan, and even
Colton. This was Colton’s first time to operate the backhoe solo,
and he impressed us all!
o Sally headed up the refurbishing of the windows and doors. The windows
were taken out of the window frames, and both window and frame were sanded,
scraped, and caulked when needed. Broken panes were taken out, and new
windows panes were installed and glazed into place. Screen doors were
sanded and scraped, and new screen was put in. The door jams were sanded,
scraped, and caulked. Stephen and Yolie took charge of installing the
new French-doors along the front of the house. Priming for all of these
projects began during Work Week, but it was finished by Sally after Work
Week—along with all of the painting! What a project!
o The water heater was moved from the bathroom, across the wall into the
NE bedroom (the bedroom accessed from the kitchen).
∑ All of this work on the bunkhouse is in preparation for the renovation
of Nana’s kitchen. We plan to use the bunkhouse’s kitchen
for Work Week 2009 food preparation. Nana’s kitchen will be out
of commission as we demolish the existing kitchen, then rebuild the structural
foundation and rough in the plumbing and electrical for the new kitchen.
∑ Work Week ended a bit early this year in order for the family
to attend Elliot’s high school graduation party on Saturday, June
7th. No one minded trading in their work shirts for party clothes as all
convened at the Farm. The party was a huge success, and a great time was
had by all. However, even after Elliot’s party wrapped up, there
was still more celebrating to be done. John and Linda celebrated their
50th Wedding Anniversary with the family at Gabriel’s Restaurant
on Sunday, June 8th.
∑ Monitor Week 2008 was September 17th through 21st. It was attended
by Sally, John, Linda, Robin, Meade, Elliot, Elliot’s friend Jamie,
Tom, Effie, Kristen, and me. Monitoring got off to a slow start, as Sally’s
compilation of the data for NCOC (National Carbon Offset Coalition) application
had raised some questions about several of our practices. Our first circle
was epic as we worked out what exactly we were trying to measure, refined
several of our techniques, and fine-tuned a few data compilation methods.
After that, the speed of monitoring picked up as help abounded. In general,
it was a good year to monitor as the mid-August rains had grown plenty
of lush green grass.
∑ Bill and Beth Conlin were also out at the ranch during monitoring,
and they particularly enjoyed participating in the Walkabout. By the end
of Monitor Week, the Conlin’s had a pretty good grasp of the flora
of Trigg Ranch.
Family Visits to the Ranch
∑ Kelly and Sean Eric visited the ranch from August 27th to September
4th. Kelly had just finished her training program for the new airplane,
and she had some downtime before starting her new job in Grand Junction.
It was great to have them for such a nice, long visit because Sean Eric
got a chance to get acquainted with many aspects of the ranch and surrounding
community. Sally had several projects on the To-Do List around Nana’s,
so Kelly and Sean Eric tackled the beginnings of a coyote fence around
the new propane tank at the bunkhouse. Tom was also out at the ranch for
part of their visit, and they all attended a Country Natural Beef tour
of Tuda and Jack Crews’ ranch at Bueyeros. Tuda’s passionate
speech on youth returning to Harding County in order to keep it vital
had Sean Eric ready to move the couple here rather than Grand Junction!
Also, Kristen and I were busy moving the South Cell herd from Gallegos
(the huge, rough pasture throughout which the cattle had thoroughly dispersed),
across the newly divided Alamosa pasture (which had to have 90 days rest
after being sprayed for mesquite), and into the Creek Pasture. Kelly and
Sean Eric rode horseback with us, cleaning cattle out of several Alamosa
paddocks. Sean Eric even got to try his hand at flanking a few calves
as we moved the herd through the Shipping pens, branding the calves that
had been born mid to late summer. Sean Eric was an enthusiastic hand,
and all were glad that he and Kelly had a chance to come out for such
a good visit to the ranch.
∑ Bradley Bull Sale, February 9, Memphis, TX: We purchased 2 bulls
at the Bradley Bull Sale this year. This is the second time we have purchased
Bradley bulls, and we feel that they are a good fit for us. Their bulls
are moderately sized (not the monster bulls that many Angus breeders are
striving for). They add frame size, meat, and fleshing ability to our
calves—while still providing great genetics for our replacement
heifers. The Bradley’s also have some pretty rough country, which
makes for bulls well-adapted to our ranch!
∑ Bulls Purchased from Reed Scivally, Umbarger, TX: We purchased
3 bulls from Reed Scivally, a rancher outside of Hereford, TX. This was
a slightly unusual situation, but it was a great opportunity for us to
get some great genetics at bargain prices. Our friends Shi and Becky Hurst
work for Reed Scivally, who is a pretty progressive rancher who went through
the TCU Ranch Management Program several years ago. He was switching to
a different breed of bulls on a section of his herd and was getting rid
of high-dollar Angus bulls that had only been on cows for 2 or 3 seasons.
Instead of selling them to Caviness at slaughter prices, he sold a few
of them to us—still, we were getting $4,000 bulls for $1,500! Also,
two of the bulls that he sold us were Hinkson bulls from the Flint Hills
of Kansas. (Hilary’s college roommate is Jacinda Hinkson, and her
uncle raises registered angus bulls with a good reputation.) Kristen and
I have been wanting to try these bulls for years but have never found
the time to make it all the way to Kansas for the bull sale. It worked
out well all the way around, as the bulls we ended up with all passed
the Breeding Soundness Exam and Trichomoniasis Test.
∑ NMSU Bull Sale, April 26, Las Cruces, NM: We purchased 2 bulls
from the NMSU Bull Sale. Hilary acted as our eyes, ears, and surrogate
bidder for the sale, which worked out perfectly. The NMSU Angus bulls
are raised in Corona, which is a part of the state that is even more desert-like
than the ranch. Therefore, these bulls are hardy, well-adapted to our
environment, and possess traits valuable when keeping replacement heifers.
∑ This year, branding took place a bit earlier than usual. We began
branding on May 13th and wrapped up on June 19th. Therefore, the bulk
of our branding was finished before Work Week even began. This is quite
unusual, since the end of Work Week typically heralds the beginning of
branding. However, everyone agreed that branding in May was a marked improvement
from all perspectives. Traditionally, we brand later in the year than
most ranches (usually June and/or July) due to our year-round calving
season. By branding later, you ensure that the greatest number of calves
have been born by the time you brand. However, there are two major downfalls
to branding in June and July: the HEAT and the size of the calves. As
you all well know, June and July are two of our hottest months here at
the ranch. Also, while branding later may ensure that you get that handful
of tiny calves that have been born in late June and July, it also ensures
that the bulk of the calves—which are born beginning mid-February—are
enormous by the time you have to flank them. By branding in May, the majority
of calves are 2-3 months old, which is what most ranches shoot for as
it results in calves branded at a very manageable size. Next year, we
plan to do all of our branding in the month of May. Mark your calendars!
Selling Calves to Meade
∑ On July 20th, we sold 50 head of Fall-born calves to Robin and
Meade. We sold 25 steers weighing 546 lbs. at $1.13/lb. and 25 heifers
weighing 505 lbs. at $1.07/lb.. This sale of calves is a tradition that
takes place each year, but this year it took place later than usual. Meade
was pleased that he got to harvest more hay than usual from the farm before
the calves arrived. He also reported that the calves were the best group
that he has received from the ranch to date. He remarked on their calm
demeanor, a slightly larger frame and longer leg, and an overall improvement
in conformation. We were pleased with the Fall-born calves this year,
so it was great to hear these affirmations from Meade.
∑ Those Fall-born calves that were not chosen to go to the Farm
were sold at the auction in Clayton. There were 71 sold at auction after
the 50 head were chosen for Meade.
∑ Fall weaning began on October 13th, and the bulk of the calves
from the 3 main cells were weaned off their mothers by October 21st. After
that point, we simply had to clean up a few stragglers here and there.
By having the herds in each of the three cells concentrated in smaller
pastures in preparation for weaning, we accomplished the entire weaning
process much more quickly and efficiently than usual. This also enabled
us to use much less hay during weaning, which is a great improvement with
hay prices as high as they are. In total, 421 calves were weaned this
Fall (215 steers and 206 heifers).
∑ As calves were weaned from each pasture, replacement heifers were
chosen by Kristen and me. 54 heifers made the cut, and more will be chosen
from the Fall-born calves weaned in the Spring. As always, the heifers
had to pass inspection on disposition and overall conformation. After
the replacement heifers were chosen, they were worked as a group—using
the Bud Williams method—even more extensively than they had already
been worked as freshly weaned calves. We are pleased with this year’s
group of replacement heifers. It is always so fulfilling to see the heifers
walk calmly—nearly single-file!—out of the Medio corrals into
the pasture as we take them using the feed truck and riders on horseback
to the waterhole. Practice makes perfect for these new additions to the
Trigg Ranch herd!
Selling and Shipping Calves
∑ On September 25th, we forward contracted the calves to Dale Smith,
a cattle buyer who is out of Amarillo, TX and partners with Andrew Bivins.
Several years ago, Rick and Kristen laid the foundation for working with
him when they invited him out to the ranch to get a feel for the type
of cattle we raise. He remembered us well and agreed to buy 300 head of
calves (roughly 175 steers and 125 heifers), with the steers weighing
475 lbs. priced at $1.20/lb. and the heifers weighing 425 lbs. priced
at $1.10/lb. Considering the current economic crisis, we were very pleased
with these prices. As a matter of fact, roughly one week after we forward
contracted the calves, cattle prices dropped off dramatically. We were
intensely relieved that our calves were already sold! (Just to give you
an idea of what is going on in the cattle market, today’s future’s
price for a 750 lb., #1—which is the best quality—steer is
$.93. It was roughly $1.14 when we forward contracted the calves, but
anything under $1.00 is pretty shocking.) We agreed that the calves were
to be weaned for 45 days and vaccinated with BoviShield and One Shot—which
both help to prevent Shipping Fever and related illness.
∑ We shipped the calves on December 5th. Shipping went very smoothly.
We gathered the calves the day before, with Kristen and me walking the
bench in the morning and bringing roughly 27 head of calves down from
the steep, rocky places where they were grazing. We rode horseback that
afternoon and easily gathered the calves into the Shipping Corrals. The
next morning was quite cold, with the thermometer in the truck reading
17 degrees when we arrived at the corrals at 6:30 am. We got the cattle
weighed and loaded on the three cattle trucks calmly and efficiently.
The final head count and weights with a 3% calculated shrink were as follows:
186 steers weighing 509 lbs. and 125 heifers weighing 446 lbs. Whenever
the calves do not weigh exactly what you predicted, then the “slide”
comes into effect. (The price gets lowered $.001 for every pound the calves
weigh over the agreed upon weight. Since heavier weight cattle are worth
less per pound than lighter cattle, the “slide” basically
adjusts the agreed upon price—which is directly related to the agreed
upon weight—to fit the actual weight of the cattle. Example: If
you contract a calf to weigh 425 lbs. priced at $1.10/lb., but in reality
the calf weighs 435 lbs, then the price with the slide would be $1.09/lb.)
Therefore, the steers brought $1.166 and the heifers brought $1.079. Even
though the slide came into effect, we were pleased with the heavier weights
of this year’s calves. (As you might remember from last year, the
steers weighed 474 lbs. and the heifers weighed 429 lbs.) We interpret
these heavier calf weights to mean that the new bulls are doing what we
hoped they would by giving us heavier calves that will have the genetics
to perform better in the feedyard. Anyway, we were glad to have the calves
shipped and were back home for a bowl of hot oatmeal by 10:30 am!
∑ After making a circuit of the ranch to wean calves, we began our
second circuit to cull cows. So far, we have sent 59 cows to Caviness.
This fall, we were able to improve our process for culling cows and hauling
them to market. Typically, we choose the cows to cull from a pasture one
day, and then Rick hauls them to Caviness the following morning. This
year, we were able to make use of the newly divided Mesquite Tank paddock
in Alamosa. We culled the cows from a pasture, kept them overnight in
the Shipping Corrals to check their bags and ensure they had no calf left
out in the pasture, and then we let them out into the Mesquite Tank Paddock.
Due to the small size of the paddock and the gentleness of the cows, we
were sure that everything we let out into the paddock could be easily
gathered and shipped. We sent the cull cows all in one day on one cattle
truck to Caviness. Rick didn’t miss all those long trips to Hereford!GOVERNMENT
Alamosa EQIP Contract: Water System Installed, Mesquite Sprayed, and Smaller
Paddocks in Use
∑ The water system for the EQIP contracts in Alamosa and the Creek
Pasture has been completed. Ray Hartley and his crew arrived on February
4th to begin installing the water system. They brought a D8 CAT bulldozer
and over 27,000 feet of 2” black plastic PVC pipe. In less than
3 days, they had ripped in the entire line. Tom proved integral to the
operation on the third day. Rick, Kristen, and I had gone to Umbarger,
TX to look at bulls, leaving Tom and Sally to hold down the fort. Tom
not only had to help the dozer operator retrofit the piece that guides
the pipe into the trench, but he had to ride on top of the dozer in order
to guide the black pipe over the front of the of the machine as it was
fed into the trench. Apparently, the setup of the new dozer they were
renting was a bit different than those they had dealt with previously.
Tom was exhausted by the end of the day, but the operation could not have
gone on without his help. Does anyone else think that we should have gotten
a discount for that?
∑ Ripping the pipeline was just the initial phase of the project,
however. Hartley and his crew had to return several times in order to
install the water storage tanks, drinkers, float boxes, faucets, and the
fittings and connections for all. Working with Hartley proved more difficult
than we imagined. Since we are so used to doing things ourselves, it was
a bit jarring to get little to no warning of when crews were coming out.
There were many small things that we would have done differently, more
thoroughly, or more logically if we had been doing it all ourselves. Also,
the pace was slow and tedious, with Hartley available only sporadically
between other projects. While work on the water system began in February,
the system was not functional until September 17th when the crew came
out to have another go at leveling two drinkers. (Tom and Rick marveled
that three guys with a laser level and a backhoe could not get a tank
level even on the second try!) Still, on the whole, we are pleased with
the finished product!
∑ After waiting three long years to get the mesquite in Alamosa
sprayed, it finally happened on June 17th. The conditions on the day of
spraying could not have been any more ideal: no wind, high humidity, and
relatively cool temperatures. AeroTech, a company out of Clovis, NM did
the spraying. With little notice, the crew from AeroTech arrived that
Tuesday at 7:00 am with three Ag-Tractors (basically big crop dusters).
Each plane had to refill three times in Tucumcari, with each load spraying
roughly 200 acres. Overall, 1,780 acres were treated—which ended
up including all of the valley, part way up the mesas, and almost all
the far reaches of the narrow canyons. They had the job done in no time
flat, with the last plane leaving at 10:10 am.
∑ At the end of the summer, in August and September, we got our
first taste of moving cattle through the newly divided paddocks of Alamosa.
We could not graze any of these paddocks yet since all of Alamosa had
to have 3 months rest after being sprayed for mesquite in June (as is
mandated by our EQIP contract). However, the South Cell herd had to be
moved out of Gallegos, through Alamosa, and into the Creek Pasture in
order to continue their rotation. It was such a pleasant experience to
ride horseback and move cattle through those small paddocks. A pasture
that was once sprawling is now six paddocks that are roughly 500 acres
each and can be ridden effectively by 4 or 5 people. We look forward to
getting to rotate the South Cell herd through the Alamosa paddocks this
coming Spring, and we cannot wait to see the effects of our first real
concentrated grazing on the ranch!
∑ With all of these accomplishments, the Alamosa EQIP contract is
nearly complete. The water system, fencing, and mesquite spraying have
all been completed. The only thing that Alamosa lacks is the enclosures
around the waters. These will allow the cattle from any one paddock to
access water, as well as be rotated into any one of the neighboring paddocks.
Guero and Abel will build these enclosures this winter or spring.
∑ While the water system that Ray Hartley’s crew installed
has been functional since mid-September, Tom has been fine-tuning its
operation ever since. For instance, the water storage tanks are opaque,
and there was no good way to determine the water level inside. (The best
that Kristen and I could do was feel the outside of the tank in order
to detect a temperature change. If it was warm outside, the water level
felt cooler. If it was cold, the water level was warmer. This was woefully
inexact!) Tom installed a pressure gauge near the bottom of each tank.
Now, when full, the gauge reads 4.4 PSI… and when empty, it reads
zero. While Kristen fully embraced these gauges after the installation
was complete, she was a nervous wreck during the operation itself. Picture
this: Tom approaching the brand-new 10,000 gallon storage tank with drill
in hand—ready to irreversibly pierce the blissfully watertight fiberglass,
me ready to hand him various tools and gauges, and Kristen looking on
in fear and trying to bring up every possible negative consequence or
unforeseen eventuality to Tom before he goes through with it!
∑ In addition to the pressure gauges on the tanks, Tom is also in
the process of developing a system for monitoring the water level in the
storage tanks without having to drive all the way up to the tanks themselves.
He plans on using a flashing strobe light mounted on top of the storage
tanks that we will be able to see from the county road in the Shipping
Trap. While it will be plainly visible at night, it remains to be seen
whether it will be visible in the daylight. (Tom has already ruled out
two smaller flashing lights that were barely discernable from that distance
even in the dark, and he is currently testing a larger light with a directional
cone that focuses its beam towards the road.) The number of flashes will
correlate to the water level in the tank—one flash for overflowing,
two flashes for full (within one foot of the overflow), all the way to
down to eight flashes for less than one foot of water. We cannot wait
until he is finished!
∑ Tom’s ultimate goal is to be able to monitor the entire
water system remotely. This project is still in its beginning stages but
promises to be quite impressive. Basically, the pressure of the water
system will be measured at the Parish windmill. Using two antennas—one
mounted on the windmill itself and one mounted at Nana’s, the data
will be sent to a computer in Nana’s basement. The information will
be stored on this computer and can be graphed to show the pressure changes
throughout the day. This will show when the water pump turns on and shuts
off, as well as indicate the water level in the storage tanks. This computer
in the basement at Nana’s will automatically connect to the internet
each day and will email this information out. Tom is fond of saying that
when this system is up and running, we will be able to lie in bed and
see exactly what the water system is doing. We will be able to decide
if we need to adjust the pumping schedule before we even walk out the
door in the morning. Doesn’t all of this technology sound a bit
atypical for the Trigg Ranch? We must be moving into the modern age…
Creek EQIP Contract
∑ The Creek EQIP contract is progressing nicely. The Creek component
of the water system was completed at the same time as the Alamosa water
system. The mesquite spraying will be completed this summer, if the conditions
are right. After that, the fencing will be the only thing lacking in the
fulfillment of that contract.
Upcoming EQIP Contract: Nana’s
∑ The 2009 EQIP applications were due in November. Each year, the
EQIP contracts change slightly, and the 2009 contracts happen to work
out very nicely for the rancher. The prices that the government pays for
each practice (i.e. fencing, mesquite spraying, etc.) are the best that
we have seen since we have been participating in the program. For instance,
the government will pay $25.50/acre for mesquite spraying under the 2009
contract, and the total cost per acre for spraying the mesquite in Alamosa
this past summer was $26/acre. Therefore, if the price of spraying does
not increase significantly, the ranch will only have to pay $.50/acre
to get our mesquite sprayed. This will be the most inexpensive practice
for the ranch, but the government will still pay more for the fencing
and water system than they have paid in either of our two previous contracts.
∑ For the 2009 EQIP contract, we have decided to put in for Nana’s
Pasture and the Shipping Trap. If these pastures were completed, that
would mean that the entire South Cell (excluding Gallegos) was divided
into small paddocks and would give us consistency in the amount of time
that cattle are in each paddock between moves. We decided that this was
a more logical way to proceed than skipping around between cells. We should
know if we have been awarded this contract in the coming months.
∑ The rainfall this year kept us in suspense until the last minute!
But let me begin at the beginning by refreshing your memory on what the
weather was like the previous year. The 2007 growing season was relatively
dry. We did not grow much grass or run any tank water. Then, we got very
little precipitation, neither rain nor snow, over the winter.
∑ Therefore, we started out the Spring with a moisture deficit in
the soil. We got a few sprinkles in April, and then a promising 1.23”
in May. This helped to make up some of the moisture deficit and greened
the grass up for a short time. However, this Spring was even more windy
than usual, and the rain in May was followed up by a straight week of
40+ mph winds.
∑ Then, on July 8th and 18th, we had nearly an inch of rain each
time. These two rains really greened things up, but they were separated
by 10 days of blazing hot weather and still not much grass was grown.
∑ Finally, things were getting desperate around the beginning of
August. We had grown little to no grass, and our water situation was getting
critical in several pastures. For instance, on the north end of the ranch,
there are no windmills. All water is provided by dirt tanks, which are
typically very reliable. However, around the beginning of August, several
of these dirt tanks were getting dangerously low. On August 6th, Rick
and Hilary had to pull out a cow that had gotten bogged down in Gail’s
Tank in Sabinosa Pasture. The next day, Guero and Abel loaded up a set
of portable corrals and were planning to haul them up to Sabinosa the
following day in order to keep the cattle out of the quagmire. However,
on August 8th, we were saved! Over an inch of rain came fast and filled
up nearly every tank on the ranch (with many even overflowing their spillways).
Overnight, Gail’s tank went from a muddy bog to nearly full.
∑ With that one rain, our water situation was taken care of. However,
our grass situation was still looking bleak. On August 14th thru 18th,
we received 3.74” over those five days. These rains were ideal for
growing grass, with each day being completely overcast and cool. This
series of rains was our salvation, and we grew lots of lush grass throughout
the ranch. Thank goodness!
*See attached spreadsheet for this year’s rainfall and snow records.
AND OTHER NEWS…
Carbon Credit Application
∑ As you all know from Sally’s and Edward’s emails,
the process has been started with our NCOC (National Carbon Offset Coalition)
application. Edward helped to get the ball rolling by talking to several
aggregators who put together pools of ranches and sell the carbon offsets
on the CCX (Chicago Climate Exchange). Sally prepared the application,
maps, and other supporting documents, while Caitlin provided the grazing
records and future grazing plans necessary for the application. The application
was sent in before the October 1st deadline. Since then, Sally has been
clearing up several issues regarding the contract with Ted Dodge at NCOC.
The signed contract will be sent in before the end of January. More updates
will be sent as things develop, but in the mean time, hope for a rise
in carbon offset prices before our offsets go on the market!Cain Litigation
∑ As you all know, the Cain litigation is ongoing. Sally has kept
everyone up to date with the developments of the case through email. She
is currently in Albuquerque preparing for the upcoming trial, which is
set for January 26th at the Mosquero courthouse.Wireless Internet at Caitlin’s
∑ Before I ever moved into the Guest House, Tom asked me nonchalantly
if I was interested in having internet-access. Of course, I said I was
although I was not looking forward to dial-up. Tom had an idea that, since
it is a pretty straight shot with few obstructions to Rick and Kristen’s
house, he might be able to get their satellite internet signal over to
my house. Then, this summer, Tom came out to the ranch with an SUV full
of high-tech-looking equipment and a plan! With two long-wave antennas
(one mounted on my chimney and one mounted on a pole at Rick and Kristen’s)
and all of Tom’s glorious ingenuity, he set up a system that supplies
wireless internet-access throughout my house and all around the shop and
Steve’s. The cherry on the cake is that the connection is just as
fast as it is at Rick and Kristen’s! So, if you need a wireless
hotspot the next time you are out at the ranch, come by and try it at
my house—thanks to Tom!
∑ The ranch bought a new truck to replace the gray Ford that Kristen
and I had been driving. As you all know, the gray truck has had a long,
hard life and been passed down from Papa Steve, to Guero, and finally
down to us. The incident that put the nail in the coffin of the gray Ford
was the Turbo going out. This meant a huge loss of power, which happened
to coincide with hauling cull cows from all corners of the ranch—poor
timing to say the least! We needed a good, used truck, and Rick began
searching on Craig’s List in New Mexico. He found exactly what we
were looking for in Albuquerque: 2003 Ford F250, 4WD, crew cab, short
bed, 1/3rd 2/3rds bench seat, trailer mirrors, tow package, with 75,000
miles for $17,100. Kristen, Hilary and I went to look at it when we were
in Albuquerque for dermatology appointments. The truck met all of our
needs and was in pristine condition. Even though Chris (the guy selling
the truck) was out of town for a family funeral, we got all the proper
paperwork taken care of and the money wired to his bank. The truck was
ours! However, this is not the end of the story. When picking up the truck,
we met Chris’ talkative mother-in-law. It turns out she is Stephanie
McCleary’s aunt! Chris’ wife is Stephanie’s cousin!
Paul and Stephanie just happened to be out at the ranch cutting firewood
on the day we discovered the connection, and Rick had fun recreating the
conversation to them. Stephanie’s aunt just happened to mention
her niece in Belen who has 18 acres of alfalfa and a husband who is a
pilot. We exchanged puzzled looks and hesitantly said, “That sound’s
like Paul and Steph…” Her aunt exclaimed, “Yes! That’s
their names!” What a small world! Paul’s comment was that
we got a hell of a truck, as Chris is know in the family for babying his
∑ There was a bear sighting very close to home—my house. In
late May, Hilary and I were enjoying the warming weather by having a cup
of coffee on the porch. I had my back to the creek, and Hilary was facing
me telling a story. Suddenly her face became blank and her sentence trailed
off. At first, I thought she was merely remembering something that we
had forgotten to do, but finally I looked over my shoulder to see a smallish
bear making his way across the edge of the lawn. When I looked back at
Hilary, she was off her chair and creeping inside. Good self-preservation
instincts! I joined her at the door and we watched the bear walk down
to the edge of the creek and disappear from sight. We agreed later that
he was in pretty poor shape, skinny with a very ragged coat. He had dark
hair at his head, neck and legs, and he was shedding big tufts of blonde
hair along his back and sides. Hilary revealed that the color of his coat
along with his small size had resulted in her first thought being, “What
is a hyena doing on the lawn?” Still, even making allowances for
initial hyena confusion, I told her in future to at least give a warning
shout when there is a predator at my back before she bolts for safety!
What is it they say? You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just
have to outrun the person you are with!
∑ During Work Week, Tom, Effie, Edward, Ellen, Margaret, Colton,
Jacob, Hilary, and I took a quick trip up to #1 Pasture to check the rain
gauge, water gap, and water level in the Division Tank. On our way back
down, the tracks of a big bear were spotted around the #1 windmill. The
bear must have lumbered through not long after the rain because the tracks
left in the mud were hard to miss.
∑ The turkey population seems to be increasing. *See attached photo
of turkey’s roosting in the big cottonwood in the Horse Pasture.
∑ The deer population is definitely increasing. There are several
recognizable groups around the ranch that we see on a regular basis. For
instance, there is a group of over 10 head seen regularly around Nana’s.
Your Lovely President’s Daughter