Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Bridle Repair

About the only memory I have a getting yelled at as a kid was for tying a horse up hard. To this day I know I shouldn't, but I still do. But if I don't they are just going to get loose and walk on their reins. Blasted! 

Well, I got bit again. I double wrapped Chief up recently, and he pulled back and broke my headstall. Fortunately, I tied him to something stout. I have the good sense never to tie a horse to a panel are something that could pull loose if they spook. That's a wreck waiting to happen.  

So I set out to fix my bridle. The original side strap was one piece that connected the bit and back around.

With enough leather to play with, I figured I'd just extend it a couple holes. 

And sandwich it in the middle of this loop. 

Needle nose pliers are a must when working with leather. Guess that's why they call them a Leatherman.

After I marked the placement of the holes, I punched them with a leather-punch. They are a must-have in any tack shed. Just rotate the cylinder until you find the right sized punch, and press it through. Once you have it through, twist your tool back and forth to finish the cut. Make sure and go big enough. Nothing worse then breaking the only leather strap you have trying to pull it through a hole that's too small. 

Then I just fed it through the three parts. 

And put a good square knot on it. Make sure each end is on the right side of the other and heading back out the direction it came. Should be square if so. 

Dropped a couple holes we're back in business. 

Ready to ride!

Paul calls this my barrel racing bridle. I call it my roping reins. When I'm swinging a lariat, the last thing I need is a set of two-price reins to hold onto. My hands are full enough. Just one more thing to check off the list of being branding prepared. I don't know if I learned my lesson or not. I struggle knowing how best to tie a horse with a bridle. If I don't have a halter, I'll usually just hobble them if they're going to be standing awhile. I suppose the right thing to do is teach your horse to not to pull back. It's all good. Thanks be to God for leather. It's willing to give if the pressure gets to high. If not, we'd all have a lot more war stories. On to the next one. 

Together at Last

What's the saying, two's company, three's a crowd. The same goes with horses. Introducing a new horse into the herd needs to be done with caution. Especially when you are going from two to three. With two, it can be easy for them to gang up on one. Knowing my critters, I didn't want to rush the issue. 

We wanted to make sure Red was good and halter broke before we started the processes. Then if something went south, we at least had a chance to get ahold of him. Having them across the fence from each other for the past month really eased the process. 

Before we ever kicked a horse in with him, we walked Red around the permitter of the corral so he had his bearings. Then we kicked just Mollie in with him for a day. Being a mare she can really stir the pot with other horses. But she has been spayed, so she doesn't seem have as much effect on geldings as other mares do. They got along just fine. 

Then we kicked her out. 

And put Chief in. He is actually the chief of the herd. He pushes Mollie around and made known, right away, to Red who was boss. But with a corral this size, Red had plenty of room to run if need be. Most horses aren't out right mean to others, they just want to make sure everyone knows who's boss. 


Red is definitely low man on the totem pole. But they are all going to get along just fine. I'm actually glad to have three horses around. Now if I take Chief out for brandings, Mollie can just hang tight with Red. All is good. We've been bending and sending, and doing other ground work with Red. The saddle is really not too far away. We'll just have to see what time allows for. However, now that they are all together, there's no rush. 


Jesus is THE means to THE end, which is the Father. 


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Spring Training

As a kid I can remember Dad starting to wear his cowboy hat about a week before our annual 4th of July branding. Fond memory for me, but I'm sure it helped get his mind heading in the right direction. These days, brandings happen sooner in the spring, but the same preparation is necessary. 

To help me get in the game, I picked up a new straw hat. 

People often ask me what my hat of choice is. Any more, I'm a palm leaf guy. Durable, light, and weather nicely over time. Atwood makes the best palm leafs that I've found. They also have a real classy look to them. I pretty much stick to the cattleman's crease. 

Along with mental prep, comes polishing up your roping skills. Fr. Zane shot me these pics of practicing his loops over in Winner SD. He's got a nice fold up practice dummy that allows him to throw head and heal loops. A loop like that will catch a calf all day long. 

He's also a bit of a trickster. Not sure what you call this bad boy, but by draping your loop over a calf's hip you keep the trap door open. Well done. Looks like he had some help from Hank. 

Me on the other hand, I practice on my pickup. White Horse's mirrors make a nice target as I'm preparing for my next homily. 

One of the more useful pieces of advice I gotten in roping world is, your loop does what your hand did. Meaning, if you want to throw a flat loop, be intentional that your follow-through is flat as well. 

If you want to land a vertical heel shot, force your hand to do the same. 

Game changer. 

I'm about 9/10 on my mirror and about 1/20 on my mudflap. The curb and exhaust pipe don't help my odds, but ain't no shot in the branding pen without its obstacles. (Sorry for the cowboy lingo Mom, but this is serious business). A cowboy has to be ready. You never know when you're going to get the call to grab your horse and rope and enter the ring. When that time comes, you don't want to disappoint. The future of your cowboy career lies in your performance in the pen. You don't have to be in there long. But in the time you get, make darn sure every loop counts. Let the brandings begin!

Just Sayin'

 We are all co-laborers in the vineyard. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Big Gun

Sooner or later it's gonna get hot and we're going to need to irrigate. For the past two years we have been watering our little 2 acre corner of alfalfa with hand-line that we just left in the field until it's time for cutting. Well, when that time came around, that pipe was so lodged to the ground with intertwined alfalfa, that it was next to impossible to pull up. Not being a guy who gives up easy, I started to look into big guns. 

This bad boy is a Komet Twin 202. With the right pressure, she can push water as far as 300'. All we had to do is build her a stand. 

Here, a Silver Bullet stands next to her to give you a size her magnitude. The crew at J&E Irrigation in Basin, said we could give it a try this summer and if by fall we don't like it, they'll take it back. If we do, we'll buy it. Sounded worth a go. 

So we dug out some parts and pieces from the North 40 to build us a tripod stand. We used to have risers running up the middle of our field for a wheel-line that Grandpa had. When we put the pivot in, we cut them off. This 90 was the last of the line, and looked to have potential as a transition from carrier line to sprinkler. 

For legs, we used some other old risers and nipped them off at a 45. 

Then cut some flanges out of this rusty 5/16" plate to mate the sprinkler and the main line. 

To give the sprinkler free-flow, we blew the valve part out of the riser. 

And ground it down so we could weld it good. Galvanized steel can be welded, but it's best to grind that coating off. It'll make a better weld and it will keep you from breathing in that bad smoke that welding over galvanized puts off. 

We first capped the 6" inlet and welded a 4" collar to it. Once you start welding pressured pipe fittings, start and stop as little as possible. 

Then welded the flange where the sprinkler will bolt to it. Just gotta watch getting a weld too close to your bolt holes. 

Then welded the three legs onto the pipe upright. Tripods are cool, they'll set flat on level and un-level ground. 

This gun is likely going to have some kickback to it with upwards of 50psi. So we welded these old drill stem collars onto it. I bet they push 100lbs a piece. Shouldn't go anywhere. 

To attach to our carrier line, we have a 4" hose that will allow us to move the stand around a bit. On one end we welded on a bell that will plug into the pipe. If that doesn't work in the long run, I think we can cut it off and still save the threads on this 4" fitting that wasn't cheap. 

The other end of the hose we attached to the tripod. Pipe dope is a must. 

Then wrenched her down with a 36".

Once the welding was done, we threw her in the back of White Horse and headed for the field. 

We basically have a triangle plot that we are working with. We figured in the middle of the arch would be our best chance of coverage. Once in position, we ran a 4" carrier line to it from our main line. 

Then bolted the sprinkler down with a gasket under it. 

Outfitted it with a gage and plugged it in. 

Let 'er buck! Operates very smoothly as it oscillates side to side. 30psi is not far from what we expected. However, Dad has a new pump he plans to install this spring to give more pressure to the whole place. He expects a 20psi increase. 

Until then, not bad. She shoots a solid 120'. If nothing else, it'll be a good sprinkler to run through on a hot July day. 

I'm encouraged. If you don't grow something good on barren ground, you'll grow weeds. Around the Big Horn Basin, irrigation in not optional. However, how you choose to irrigate is. This big gun is this year's sprinkler of choice. I bet with more pressure we'll reach out to 200'. If so, it'll all be worth it. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Water Reel

Dad and I are always thinking of ways to make things easier around the ranch. In doing, we usually create a lot of work for ourselves. That’s ranchin. 

All the irrigation on our little place is done by pump and sprinkler. Grandpa had handline and we still have a bit of it around. On a long narrow 5 acre hay field we thought a water reel might work well. So I kept my  eye out for a used one and found one at a farm sale in Montana.  This bad boy is equipped with 5” poly pipe and the reel is operated by a gas engine. Looked promising.

So we grabbed Luke’s truck and trailer and blew up to central Montana. They lifted onto our trailer. That proved challenging. 

But it fit nice and we got it boomered down. 

Watch your teeth when your camming a boomer over. 

We always wrap the leftover chain around the handle so it can’t break loose. 

Good load. A bit top heavy. 

Blew a tire heading east on I-90. 

We were like a pit crew out there. 

On the road again. 

Beautiful spring storm heading south near Clark WY. 

Made back home safe and sound. Needed to use the 4010 to unload it but she was dead. To pull start a farmhand, hook a chain to the front end and run it to the side of the bucket when you hook it to the truck. Then as you pull forward the chain will run under the bucket and lift the loader up so it doesn’t dig dirt as you’re pulling. Trick of the trade.

Then we shaped up a bit of a loading dock. 

To pull it off rather than lift it off. 

It was such a tight fit that we had to be real careful to pull it off straight. 

Once on the ground it was easier to maneuver. 

So we backed it into the shop to do service it up. Tight fit on a 12' door. 


The gear box acted froze so we pulled the drain plug to see what we were working with. Had quite a bit of water in it. No surprise. It did naturally free up though. 

And we added fresh oil. 

We had to get it to fit some of our already existing supply line. 

So we cut the old one off and welded on the new one. 

The hose hook up to the gun took a bit of work but seems pretty solid. 

Cool unit. Once the gun is hooked up you can leave it attached and then just lift it up when you need to move the whole thing. There was a lot more work done to get it ranch ready, including changing the engine with another 4hp Honda that cousin Mark had sitting around. 

Eventually we hauled in out to the field to see if this dog would hunt. 

Even though the water level in the canal wasn't high enough for our pump to run, Dad and I couldn't wait. So we put an 10' extension on the suction line and gave it a whirl. 

It took a lot of priming, but eventually she took off. 

It works. Has couple minor water leaks. Engine sounds strong. It is revved up pretty good in this shot, causing the reel to wind up at a pretty rapid rate of speed. You'd likely run it at an idle. A couple disappointing features. The hose isn't as long as it is supposed to be and the gun doesn't shoot as far as I'd hoped it would. Those aren't deal breakers, but do need to be addressed before this unit becomes the main waterer on the 5 Acre. 

Giddy up. 

Life is about the journey as much as the destination. I have mixed feelings about the end result of this endeavor. But the road to get there was a ride that only a couple of Catholic Cowboys would take. Dad and I whistle while we work. The labor may be hard but the time spent together is always enjoyable. Cowboys do have clutches, but they rarely use them. We'll probably kick a little more on this sprinkler project before we throw in the towel. I've got some ideas brewing already. On to the next one. 

Bridle Repair

About the only memory I have a getting yelled at as a kid was for tying a horse up hard. To this day I know I shouldn't, but I still do....