Our Spring Break Work Camp was a success. We had our three regular customers and they had a good time. They arrived on Saturday, the 9th of March and left on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 13th. The first day all we did was string the final strands of wire on the New Fence. One of them has been toying with the idea of being a combat engineer, but is now reevaluating this career choice after unrolling a ¼ mile of barbed wire.
The next day was a Sunday, so we intended to spend it going to church and then resting as the Lord commanded. We did except for trying to turn the young Patriot into the pasture with the three remaining horses up front. This was a bit of a disaster. It all worked pretty peaceably at first, but about an hour after we made the switch, I saw all three of them chasing Patriot all over the place. I ran out there and Patriot was down with Rebel over top of him biting his neck! I ran him off, throwing at Rebel everything that I could get my hands on. Patriot just lay there a bit. There was no mark on his neck. This makes sense because Rebel was not trying to kill Patriot, but to dominate him. However, he was a little bloody around his eye and had some blood trickling out of his nose, as well as having a barbed wire cut on his shoulder, but overall he was okay. We decided that it would be better not to deal with this at this time. We spent the rest of the day reversing what we had done in moving horses. Patriot and Sarge were in the New Horse Pasture and then we put Silver in the pens by himself until we could get him castrated.
Monday was when the real work started. I put the boys on rigging up a fence that goes into the tank so that stock could not cross it. The goal was to get a trap built that we can lead cows into and leave them overnight without having to worry about water. That way, if we do pen them, we can leave them until we get around to working them or until there is a sale. Eventually, when we build up the west fence of the Savanna, Tallow Flat, Bobcat Woods, and Old Field, we can use the Mineral Box Field as a big trap and drive into the pens from there or even separate the herd into two different herds. This will help gentle down some of the wider cows and keep better track of what bull is sire to the caves.
The fencing into the water was the kind of problem that I love to give kids like this. I have said that ranching is a giant Army-style Leadership Reaction Course used for training. My orders to the kids were to make a suitable fence and not to get wet. They constructed a type of pontoon bridge and the fence is still holding. They also were successful in fulfilling the secondary objective of staying dry.
After that, we rebuilt the short section of fence behind Tank 3 and remade the old gap there. Then, we patched the worst of the holes in the west end of the Lane Trap. We were ready to see if we were ready.
We went to go look at the cows and since we had some cubes, we tolled them in. Unfortunately, they were coming straight for the pens so we bypassed our trap altogether, but we had two calves in the pens! I decided to put the m all in the calf patch, since the tank lot is weak. The gate from the Tank Lot to the Calf Patch is pretty muddy, so we were a little concerned about the little calves getting stuck in the hole. They were too apparently, so they waited until all the other cows had gone through. Before we knew it, the calves were all we had in the pens! We shut the gate and did our best to keep them calm while Anna went to go get the tags. I got the rope and kind of showed the boys how to use it. The two kids that have never done it got to “rope” a calf, then each of them got to throw one and we tagged it. They enjoyed it a lot and I enjoyed watching them do it. I will have to have them back for more, maybe even branding.
The next day was a rodeo of racing through fields on the 4-wheeler, the truck, and on Scout. We didn’t ever get anything else in the pens, but we had a good time trying.
The next morning was the last day and the vet was scheduled to come out early and castrate Silver and clean out his neck wound. That was not an easy chore. Silver was as scared as he could be. I don’t know what we are going to do when we have to pull blood on him in the future. We snubbed him up to a gate post and squeezed him up between the gate and a cattle panel. He pulled like a crazy horse, but I had a couple of wraps and the rope was going nowhere. In fact, it didn’t even let loose when Silver went unconscious. I had to cut the rope. I also made a rookie mistake. The vet told me to take the slack out once and I actually grabbed the rope all the way around. Silver spooked again and pulled the slack out, catching my fingers in the wrap. Luckily I had gloves on. When I took them off later, my middle finger had been cut open and a little piece of fat had been squeezed out. Ick. Nonetheless, we got him down and I had the doc do every kind of needle work that I could imagine. Coggins, rhino, West Nile, the works. I don’t want to have to do that again for awhile. He was also successfully castrated. You have never seen three paler teenage boys, I can tell you that. When you get to be my age, it doesn’t bother you so much. Actually, when you get to be my age, you learn to find some tool to fetch, or something else to check on. On top of that, the vet also cleaned out Silver’s neck wound while he was out. A few days before our future combat engineer had to rethink his career choice. Our future combat medic was forced to do the same thing.
The Camp, as always, was fun, successful, and productive. I dream of the day when I can put all of them on good horses and know for sure that we will be able to pen cows when we want. God says not to despise small beginnings. It is the story of our lives right now, but I really see that someday we will look back on these days and appreciate them. We will know that if God ever brings us a bunkhouse full of campers who will all get a chance to rope, ride, and throw calves it is because God granted us the ability to be faithful over the little things today.