Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Corral Repair

With the weather being so nice, I just had to get out this afternoon. On my mind is starting another horse or two this spring. We'll see. But regardless, the old round pen up at Colleen's place needed some attention. 


We fixed this ole girl up a few years back when we started Mollie. Since then, she's crumbled a bit more. 


This broken post was the main problem. None of it is bronc proof. But if we could get it all standing upright it should hold a horse. 


The idea was to set a new post behind the old post, which is the middle one, and then tie the two together. 


I was surprised that the ground really wasn't frozen. It still took a bar to bust loose, though.


But that was mainly because it was so dry. 


After a couple feet in the ground we set this new old post. 


Then backed White Horse into the falling section to bring it back upright. 


And wired the two together. Seemed solid.


Years ago we put these tall stays in each section to raise up the sagging boards and give them more stability. I never got around to cutting the tops of them off and it's bugged me.


So we took the sawsall and lopped them off. 


Let's ride.

It's always easier to maintain a corral rather than fix it. Even if we don't turn horses in this bad boy much, it's still better to have it ready and not need it. Rather than need it and not have it ready. Either way, it was a good use of a warm, sunny, January afternoon. 

Apostle to the Youth

Don't box me in, bro.




Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Boots

The history of retiring old boots on fence posts runs deep in American western culture. Why it got started, let's find out. 


These boots line the driveway into the Durham Ranch, north of Wright. The little research I did about the meaning of such a strange cowboy practice unearthed many different speculations. 


One source said that a rancher would do this to communicate to his neighbors whether he was home or not. A toe pointing out the gate meant he was gone, while a toe pointing to the house meant he was home. Could be. 


Another article suggested that they would do this to keep the tops of fence posts from rotting out as quick. Maybe. 


John likes to say that they are mementos of all the cowboys who have come and gone on this place. Sounds plausible. 


The thought I like the most was that the upside down boot was a form of prayer that the 'sole' of the cowboy would go to Heaven. Now that's Catholic!

However, I know exactly why ranchers retire their old boots on fence posts, for the fun of it! Cowboys are light hearted. If they think something is funny that their neighbor might get a kick out of, or that might roll the eyes of their wife, they're all for it. And why not, what else you gonna do with a worn out pair of boots? Throw them away!? The tradition lives on, and so it should. Next time you have to buy a new pair of boots, consider adorning the drive with your old pair. Passerbyers will appreciate it. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Loading Hay

It's amazing how much hay two cow/calf pairs can eat. Not wanting to feed them every couple of weeks, we brought the feeder wagon down and loaded it up. 

I love round bales, but they are good for about two moves. After that the net wrap starts to give out. Such was the case of this first cutting alfalfa that Luke gave us. 


Dad pulled the bulk of it our with the farmhand. 


And the rest we threw in with a pitch fork. 


Having pitched in one other broken bale from Uncle Chris, we then dropped in a nice grass bale from Chuck Tweedy over here in Campbell County. 


Once loaded up, Dad backed her in the pen. Backing up a hay wagon with a fifth-wheel front, takes some old school skill. Well done. 


Life is good. 

The cows should be feed now till June! Hopefully they enjoy this smorgasbord of options. They'll do good. Even though it feels like spring, green grass on the prairie is a long ways away. Ranch hard. Be happy. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Story Sharing

Modern man listens to witnesses before he does teachers, and he only listens to teachers if they first of all witnesses.




Tuesday, January 23, 2024

CV Axle

Last year, the original CV axles went out of White Horse. Not wanting to mess around, I just had a shop put them in. I like to go with GM parts when I can, but they were just so much more expensive and the Napa ones we went with had a lifetime warranty. Well, a year later the boots on them cracked out. So.... what to do? As I looked into it, changing them didn't look too bad. So I just got some upgraded axles from Napa under the warranty and went to work.


The inside boot on both axles split out. The joint was still good, though. I actually think it was the brutally cold weather last week that did them in. 


First step was to break the lug nuts loose. No air tools here, just armstrong. 


Then jacked it up and pulled the wheel off. Safety first. 


Next, we pulled the cap off that covered the axle nut. 


And busted it loose.


After we took out the eight bolts that held the axle to the deferential, she slipped right out. 


The new axle is what they call an extreme condition axle. Hopefully that means that the rubber on the boot will hold up in tough Wyoming weather. 


Putting it back together was just about as smooth. 


Then just rebolted the two hubs together. 


And wrenched them down. 


The other side was just as easy. But on that one I never even took the wheel off. Once unbolted, the axle just drops out. On trucks that I've changed in the past, we always had to bust a ball joint or something to make room to pull the axle. Not this one, thankfully. 


CV (constant velocity) joints are interesting. Their point is not to loose any revolutions as they rotate. With U-joints there is always a speed up, slow down scenario to their revolution. 


Back in business. 

I was really surprised how well this went. I bet I had two hours in the whole ordeal. Gotta love Chevrolets. They are meant to run and the are meant to be repaired when needed. Were back in the saddle again!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Hat Shaping

I'm more of a straw hat guy, but for six months out of a year, Wyoming cowboys are in felt hats. Felt hats take a bit more care. Because they don't have the spring of a straw hat they are more prone to get out of shape. Periodic reshaping of them is common. 


The most common place for them to loose shape is on the sides, where a guy grabs them to take them on and off. Over time they start to curl in. 


The good news is that steam will allow you to do whatever you want with them. I like to use my jet-boil because it puts out a lot of steam without the whistle of a kettle. 


My tactic is to warm them up, allowing the moisture in the steam to penetrate the felt. 


Working both sides is good if you can. 


It doesn't take too much time. Then simply pull it back into the shape you desire and work it a bit until it holds. 


The back brim of a hat is also a common place to loose shape. This is largely because of the head rest in a cowboy's ranch rig. 


Same procedure works here too. 


Anytime you can use both hands the more even the shape and the more likely it is to last. 


Money. 

Cowboy attire takes maintenance. If you don't want your buddy to pull you aside and tell you to shape your hat, it's best to stay on top of it. It's really not that hard. With a bit of steam and a little try, you'll be cleaned up and ready for town in no time. 

Repent and Follow

Turn back to the Lord and listen to His voice. 



 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Chute Yeah

Having clergy meetings all week in Casper, I ducked home afterwards to check on things. Of course, I found a little ranching to do. 


Just give me an excuse to get this old chute up and running. 


The cows have been doing good. But ole Methuselah developed a bit of hoof-rot in her left rear foot, right below her dewclaws. 


She need doctored, so it was time we put our new old chute into action. 


She was almost ranch ready when we got her two years ago. But the head catch needed some attention. 


The two doors are meant to work together, but were so loose that I doubt they would catch a cow. 


After cutting off the bottom plate, we exposed the strap iron that they used to replace what would have been cables. It was super loose and wouldn't allow the doors to swing wide open. 


The cable concept is really the way to go. But not having any cable and being short on time, we reverted to working with chains and welding a threaded end to them. 


We had to drill out the original holes, after cutting off the old strap iron. 


Threading in the one end of the chain, we then weld on the other.


Honestly, I’m surprised it worked. To get the doors to work together you wrap one chain around the front of left door then behind the door on the right, and vice versa with the second chain. 


The concept is a bit confusing to describe, but in the end it works! We then welded on a plate so the cows don't step on the chains when they leave. 


Finished cleaning it up and hauled her down to the corrals. Because all the leavers are on the right side, we just chained it up to the fence and wired on a couple panels for an alley. 


Then grabbed the old girl and walked her in. 


Standing about 14 1/2 hands high and having gnarly horns, she really wasn't the best test candidate. But it worked and we got her doctored up. 


Back to business. 

So fun. I love a good challenge, but only with the help of the Lord. This could have easily been an all day project. But with a little gumption and a lot of grace, we got the job done. God bless America!


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....