On Monday the wind was out of the east, averaging 20-25 MPH. The tumbleweeds, well, tumbled past the windows, many of them stopping to form a wall on the south side of the lilac row which gave the row a much more robust presence in the absence of leaves from the dry summer. On Monday, I thawed meat to prepare for feeding the preg check crew. The shoer came and trimmed the horses. The cows and calves were hauled home and turned out into the north pasture.
On Tuesday the wind came out of the west. The tumbleweeds tumbled back, but the wall on the lilacs remained in place. Before dawn, stretching after my run, I watched the little kit fox trot along the edge of that wall and disappear into the west end of the lilac row. A minute later, I heard the screams of the rabbit. A minute later, silence. The fox, dragging the dead rabbit out of the lilacs, disappeared into the still dark dawn. I got the pitchfork to help the tumbleweeds continue their eastward journey so I could get into the barn to feed the horses. On Tuesday, I started Rachel Ray’s sloppy joes with ground elk, deer, and beef in the crockpot, made a batch of brownies, and got the set-up ready for the preg check crew in the garage. I drove my tractor with the hay sled so we could get hay in all the pens, found a bird nest on a post, and pushed the cows and calves in for the night.
On Wednesday, the tumbleweeds were still, the fox must have been full, and my run was quiet. The cows and calves were sorted by seven. The vet showed up at eight and set up his chute. The crew arrived around that same time. We ran cows through first: number, weight, bred or open, pour on, vaccine and vitamins, old fly tag removed, open gate, next cow. The bawling of mammas and calves is loud but moves to the background as we work. Reset the chute for calves, now 5 or 600 pounds after I tagged their gangly newborn selves, still, I find Socks, Split Ear, and Wilford Jr. Weigh and vaccinate, pour on, open the gate and back to mamma. Finished by 10:30. Back in the south pasture by 11. Hot lunch consumed by 11:30. Wind picks up and tumbleweeds head south for the rest of the day.
On Thursday the wind shifted in the night, and I am feeling like a tumbleweed herder. Today, it’s a skunk I see in the dark. We both move right along. I believe the tumbleweeds have conspired to keep me from getting through the walk-in gate to check the stock tank. How did they even get in this space, a little square patch between two corral panels? They are stacked as high as my shoulders, but I have a weapon: my gloves. They cannot poke me or leave stickers in my tender fingers. I’ll show them, I think, tossing them over into the alley. They can’t possibly getaway, and the cows will trounce them when they come through. I decide I’ll eat a leftover brownie as a reward for my diligence.
On Friday, the alley is empty. The tumbleweeds have escaped over the alley panels and into the pasture where the horses are standing out of the wind. I call the horses over as I put their hay down. Bullet drags a tumbleweed along, stuck in his tail.