Friday, April 28, 2023

Starting Water

April in the Big Horn Basin is all about irrigation. You can't wait until your crops need water to get your sprinklers going. Therefore, we took the time to get the sprinkler pipe laid out so when the water is in the canal we are ready to irrigate. 

Of all the forms of irrigation in the Basin, hand-line has to be the worst. No body wants to move 40' joints of pipe twice a day. Fortunately with pivot sprinklers, few guys have to. Hand-line works good for our little corner of hay because we can string it all out and not have to move it until we cut the hay. But the initial layout is definitely work. 

Because our plot is newly established, getting the right sprinkler placement is still a work in progress. We had to add a section of pipe in the mainline, so we tied Whitehorse to one end and winched it along. Worked good.

Two corners we water. It's questionable if it's worth the effort, but if you don't plant hay you're gonna grow weeds. 

Bring on the water. 

When you're a one weekend a month farmer like I am, you've got to make hay while the sun shines. I do all the manual labor when I come home, but it's up to Dad to keep the water flowing. I'm confident he'll do us good. Now that the crop is more-or-less established, I hope to get two solid cuttings. Three are normal in the Worland area, but ours is mostly grass so we'll have to see how it rebounds. Only one way to find out.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Ready to Run

If Whitehorse is going to be the last truck I own, we better take care of her. Part of that requires cosmetic upkeep. With winter far spent, it was a safe time to spruce up the bed, bumper, and sideboards. 

Weather is tough on things. The black paint tends to chips and rust, and the wood fades and drys out. 

A few passes with the belt sander on the sideboards and they were ready for fresh oil.

Of course we had to rebrand them.

Linseed oil is my preferred method of wood treatment. It penetrates well and is easy to reapply. 

Both the bed and the bumper needed work. We just took a wire wheel to them both. 

Covering up everything you don't want paint on is super important. I've learned this one the hard way. 

Primering before painting is worthwhile. Once dried, we hit everything with two coats of black.

Back in business. 

Vehicles run better when they are looking good. Whitehorse is now ready to get back on the track. I've had people question whether I can make this truck last me to my end or not. This is how I figure it: the last truck I had was a 1953 Chevrolet. When I sold it, it was 68 years old. This truck is a 2012 and is currently 11 years old. I am 43. If this truck lasts 57 more years like my last one did I'll be 100, which is the age I plan to be when I die. Simple logic. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Men's Retreat

Every year we try to have a men's retreat on the Durham Ranch north of Wright. This year was a success. John Flocchini generously offers us the use of one of the ranch houses that is retreat ready. They've hosted all sorts of events here over the years, but one of the family's favorites is promoting the Faith. 

You never know what kind of weather you are going to get in mid April. This year was better than the last year, but still chilly. 

We started out on Friday night with a Buffalo Burger hangout for those that were able to join. 

They main event kicked off Saturday morning with the celebration of Mass. About 20 guys were in attendance. Mainly from Campbell County, but one came in from Sheridan and two from Casper. 

Breakfast is always a crowd pleaser.

The theme of the retreat was Behold Your Mother. I gave a talk in the morning and the afternoon. The rest of the time was silent prayer. It's like a buddy of mine once said, "It's amazing what you can hear when you shut up."

The hope was that we all take seriously our Lord's last commandment to "Behold our mother Mary." The book 33 Days for Morning Glory will be our next project. 

Retreats are good for the soul. Like Grandma says, "We all need to get out of Dodge every once in awhile." By doing so, we can reencounter Christ and get a new perspective on life. We retreat from the front lines of life, to be refreshed in our relationship with God, so we go back to our vocations with new zeal. Can't beat it. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Corral Repair

As with most corrals, you don't fix things until they're broke. Well, once the snow left, we found some breaks on the Caballo Creek Corrals. 

This post drew the immediate attention. It couldn't have been our cows, but something caused this bad boy to just give out.

With all our ducks in a row, I grabbed my right-hand man Ernie and we set out to repair what needed fixing.

Once we got the gate unbolted from the old post we were able to start digging it up.

Only to discover that it was partially concreted in.

So we tied Whitehorse to it and gave it a tug.

With a little persuasion, she came out.

With an open hole it didn't take too much digging to get ready for the new post.

Once set we tamped it in. In a pinch, a shovel handle will work in place of a tamping bar. 

Then we tied two guy wires to the new post for extra support before reattaching the gate. 

Next up was the catch pen latch. I'm sure the holes lined up when it was first built but they don't anymore. 

So we took the sawsall and cut them longer and bent them down.

Then cut them off.

Muy Bien. 

There was one more gate that the hinges pulled out on. They were just lag bolted in, so we put bolts all the way through. 

Let's ranch.

I told Ernie that we should be in and out of there in a couple hours. After all, all we had to do is set a new post and button up a thing or two. A half a day later we were back home. You just never know what all a job is going to entail, so you better be prepared. I can tolerate quite a bit, but dysfunctional gates around a corral drive me crazy. No longer a problem here. It won't be long and we'll be branding critters. We're ready. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Cattle Time

Every spring I seriously reevaluate whether running cows compliments the current demands of my priestly vocation or not. As far as I can see, it again does. With that in mind, it's time to gather some critters. 

These two blacks came from the Etchemendy Ranch north of Douglas. 

Mixing it up a bit, these Charolais crosses came off the HooDoo Ranch north of Cody. We picked them up at the barn in Worland. 

Happy campers. 

I'm hopeful for a good season of ranching. I'd like to pick up a total of 12 heiferettes. We'll see what the Lord provides. I know it seems counter productive to invest time in ranching when I could be sitting at the church office waiting for someone to knock on the door. But this is how I meet people. Jesus didn't wait for people to come to Him, He went out to them. Ranching gets me into people's lives where priests normally wouldn't go. But the main Man I meet when I play cowboy is God. God's grace builds on our personal nature. When I act in accord with my cowboy nature I meet God in a human way. This encounter in-turn fuels my priestly vocation. It refreshes me in my relationship with the Father that I may serve as a father. It tunes my heart in to the Holy Spirit that I may make effective shots in priestly ministry. And it grounds me in the humanity of Jesus Christ that I may be a bridge to God for the People of God. Let us ranch. 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Moving Dirt

Wanting to straighten a fork in the road and having some junk dirt and old concrete to dispose of, we decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Right here, the road to the house splits and goes to the barn. But it's a sharp turn and steep transition. So we set out to fill in this valley and soften the approach up.

First order of business was to drag the old pivot sprinkler pad into the ravine. This would take up some room and get this dinosaur out of our hair. 

Then we loaded up the old corral burn piles and hauled them over.

Side dumps still come in handy. 

Of course, none of this could be possible with out the ole JD 450. We pushed the junk dirt and debris over the concrete. Then hauled some good gravel down and put it over the top of everything.

Much better.

This little move, I think, will make quite a difference in the long run. Grandpa didn't pull many trailers. So sharp corners and steep transitions weren't a bid deal. But ranchers are trailer people. If we can't get there with our gooseneck we probably shouldn't be there. Mission accomplished. 


One the most satisfying parts of spring field work is harrowing a pasture that you have been feeding cows on. The gratification is instantaneous. Though we hadn’t been feeding cows on it, our little corner of grass hay still needed tending to. 

Dad had his harrow elsewhere so I had to improvise. Every rancher has some used tires on the north 40 that he just might need some day. Well, today was the day. 

So we hauled some over to the shop to come up with a game plan. 

The simpler the better in my book. We just drilled and bolted the tires to together with some 5/8" bolts and washers. 

Then carried her to the field.

Works for me.

Harrowing is just part of ranch spring cleaning. Agitating the grass kicks it into growing gear. Knocking the weeds down is nice too. Springtime is definitely a time when you don't want to burn daylight. Make hay while the sun shines because tomorrow it may snow. Bring it. 

Monday, April 10, 2023


Now that she’s warming up outside, it’s time to be ready to cool things down. First order of business is cleaning up the YETI 45. 

For the past three years this ice box bomb shell has kept many a Coors Light cold. 

She has required no maintenance over the years, but a little spring scrubbing was still in order. 

Let’s ranch. 

 Drinking responsibly is a virtue, and a virtue lies between two extremes. On one end of that spectrum is that alcohol is evil. But Jesus came eating and drinking (Mt. 11:19) and even his first miracle was turning water into wine (Jn. 2:1-10). On the other end of the spectrum is getting drunk. Getting drunk is a grave sin because it weakens our will and allows us to do actions that we normally wouldn't do when disposed with the use of right reason. In the middle lies the virtue of temperance, which governs all our passions, including our thirst. For more information see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2290. 

All this being said, Catholic Cowboys don't have to drink alcohol. But if we do, we choose to never get drunk or even get close to it. We also don't break the legal norms for alcohol, such as drinking and driving or driving under the influence. 

Few things spell a good time like a YETI full of CLs. I smell a summer of fun coming on. God bless America. 

Brace Post

If you want to build a good fence, you have to start with a good brace post. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the effort you put in y...