The Helpers - Home on the Range Blog at - 229620

Home on the Range

The Helpers 
Mar. 29, 2011 5:37 pm 
Updated: Apr. 4, 2011 4:51 pm

Spring might actually show up one of these days, so I have been trying to turn my attention to the house, in my “spare time”.

Being on a ranch, the closest pavement is about 40 or so miles away, and the dust is pretty much constant here. Lack of humidity causes wood to dry out and crack. Once again, our distance from town necessitated a home remedy for furniture cleaner and conditioner, and once again, the internet came to the rescue.


I had some cheaper cooking oils that have been sitting in the pantry for quite some time now. Mixing a cup of that with ½ cup of bottled lemon juice in a spray bottle proved to be the answer. The lemon juice must have been the cleaning agent, because the rings and spots on our wooden dining table rubbed right off and the oil left it conditioned and beautifully burnished. I spent the rest of the afternoon going over all the wood in the house with very satisfying results.


So that is

1 spray bottle

1 cup cooking oil

½ cup lemon juice


Sounds a lot better than paying $5 a can of Pledge, to me.


The pups had not showed up the other day to help me with the morning feeding as they usually do. I was a little miffed, but assumed it might have been because Cletus had made such a serious 'faux pas' the night before.


The lambs are in a wooden stall with a large hinged wooden gate. The latch is merely a piece of wood that slides into a groove, and doesn’t hold very well. I tied a piece of rope around the gate and post to keep it shut, but didn’t get it very tight. Cletus gets so enthusiastic about seeing and touching the lambs he ran into the barn ahead of me, and with his big old dinner plate sized paws, he opened the gate, setting all 5 lambs loose. This caused me no end of trouble, as I have to separate them to bottle feed, or they steal bottles and jump all over me. After capturing and replacing them, I let them out one at a time to feed them and give the necessary shots, until all 5 were again in the aisleway. There is a gate at the end of the barn that only opens out. Cletus heard something outside, and promptly pushed the gate open to run out…followed by a lamb. The gate slammed shut behind them.


Suddenly, he realized what he had done and stood looking from me to the lamb with a most penitent expression on his face. I told him “Yes, Cletus. YOU did that!”


I let them back in and henceforth; he has waited until I give the okay to leave the barn.


Randyman was first up yesterday morning (as usual).

He said the pups were asleep on their beds when he got up, but when he went into the bathroom; he heard coyotes start to howl to the south of us. When he came back out, the pups were gone. He fed our big critters for me, and headed towards the old milk pasture to feed the horse and cows out there. He said the pups were cutting across the pasture on the way home. It’s south of us.


About 8 a.m. I went to feed the lambs and, as I said, the pups were not around. That evening, Randy related this tale.


“We had to move the calves out of the Lower Cottonwood (about 2 miles away) so I drove the feed truck out there and thru the gate so the calves would follow. All of them came except for 4 calves way down in the lower pasture that couldn’t see us. (the pasture is HUNDREDS of acres) I was trying to decide what to do about them when I saw two white calves bust out of the brush and go running TOWARDS them. They went past the group, then turned around and started walking behind them and all of them came to the gate. Turns out it wasn't two white calves, it was the pups! I was really surprised. They were all so far away, I couldn’t even tell they were dogs. They walked those 4 calves right up through the gate and then left, as quickly as they had showed up. The other thing that is so weird, is that these dogs can run right up to any calf in the herd and the calves don’t run. If I send my dog, Scottie, they all scatter.” (you think these calves might know them?)

There were 350 calves below our house last summer, which the pups adopted. When the calves got moved, the pups were confined to our yard. The next day, the irrigator laughed and said,


“The pups were down in the new field with the calves today, touching their noses”


This seems to be something important to these dogs, to touch noses with everything, including me.

The better part of this winter the pups have been confined to the yard. The calves have been moved a few times since, but clearly they went looking for them as soon as the opportunity presented itself, and took it upon themselves to keep an eye on them.


I figure they must have come straight back home, because they walked me back from the barn when I was done feeding. They checked out the lambs at the barn, then the goats and sheep behind the house. All was well, so they went back to their favored lookout posts.

 So far, they are doing a pretty darn good job.

Mar. 29, 2011 6:18 pm
Petey - good job on the homemade furniture polish. I so enjoy your stories of ranch life - some of it reminds me of my days growing up on my grandparents ranch. It wasn't a big as yours but some of the experiences are similar. It sounds like the pups are watching out for their charges. I hope they don't try to take on a pack of coyotes, although I think they would hold their own. Glad to hear the lambs are eating and adapting well. How did cow camp go? Did they enjoy all the food you prepped? Let us know how things went. Glad you're on the mend too.
Mar. 29, 2011 6:38 pm
Petey, there are some authors whose books I will buy in Hardbound, immediately upon seeing them. There are some blogs I will read in exactly the same manner. Yours is one of them. Good on ya!
Mar. 29, 2011 6:58 pm
They are still out at camp, luv2cook. It snowed and blew so bad it slowed things down considerably and they still haven't got the cows home. The kids had to go back to school, so now its up to the two cowboys, which is gonna be hard! But yes, they did love the food and each time someone came back to the ranch they made sure to let me know what they'd had LOL
Mar. 29, 2011 6:59 pm
Thank you raedwulf! I am honored :)
Mar. 30, 2011 4:37 am
I love to read your blog, especially when you have pics of those dogs of yours! We used to have a Canada Goose that lived in our yard as her wings were deformed and she couldn't fly. We had a dog that took a huge liking to her and they would share the doghouse and dog dish. It is so neat to see how animals "fall" for one another and become friends.
Mar. 30, 2011 4:50 am
another excellent blog petey!!! You tell it so vividly that I can just picture the pups running through the pastures herding those wayward calves! :D Keep writing! and I will keep reading!
Mar. 30, 2011 10:26 am
Hey Petey - I'm just curious (again) - but did they have enough food rations to last this long? Do they send someone back for more if they run out? I know they had a cook go with them - does he go to the nearest(ish) town and get more supplies? And - - how many heads are they rounding up?
Mar. 30, 2011 10:42 am
Someone comes in every few days for a shower, and takes supplies back...there are about 2000 cows spread out over about 275 sq miles. The guy that was cooking for them was also a rider, but he has gone back home and the 5 kids have gone back to school (boarding school, as its 80 miles away) so three cowboys are fixing their own meals now, but they are pretty resourceful guys. If I was a nicer person, I would haul out there and help them, but its cold and windy and I have goats to milk and lambs to feed now!
Mar. 30, 2011 12:09 pm
love the story Petey, keep them coming. The furniture polish is bang on. I use 1/2 a lemon and scrub my wood dining table with the lemon, then buff with oil, no build up and it cleans and shines beautifully. A wet tea bag fills and stains slight scratches as well.
Mar. 30, 2011 1:36 pm
Thanks for the info Petey - - and you are a nice person - - you fixed the food they took - and someone has to hold down the fort while they're away. The critters at home don't feed and care for themselves on their own, someone has to do it - that someone is you and Randyman. Do you get more food supplies ready for each time someone comes back? Are they driving the herd back to the ranch? Or are they being driven to market?
Mar. 30, 2011 2:27 pm
The cows are driven back to the main ranch. Mostly they get pushed into a big canyon in the Sheephead mountains and slowly make their way back from there. They will all be calving soon, and branding starts end of May and continues through October. I grocery shop every 3 months. The boss' wife goes to town more often. Between us we try to get some stuff made to make it easier on whoever is out at camp, even if its just desserts. Normally I only feed me and Randy, unless she is gonna be gone, then I feed whatever crew is here. I have the perfect situation, I pretty much get to do what I want, when I want. I usually ride when I'm strong enough and cook when I'm not. Here's hoping for a strong summer! LOL
Mar. 30, 2011 3:53 pm
I can't decide which is better, your photos or you text. I have to say that you have the most photogenic animals I have ever seen! I can just imagine the pups having a conversation in this photo..."Do you think we have to go out and do another sweep, or did we get them all?" They are really amazing.
Mar. 30, 2011 4:36 pm
LOL! love that caption!
Mar. 30, 2011 5:06 pm
My grandparents ranch was hereford cattle - and then grandaddy got some angus and started cross-breeding. What breed do ya'll have?
Mar. 30, 2011 5:34 pm
we have mostly angus cows and charolais bulls, but they are changing over the program and buying some very, very expensive and rare imported bulls this year
Mar. 31, 2011 5:59 am
I just love reading your blog about the animals and life on the ranch. Your writing reminds me of James Herriot's stories,but we get the added bonus of your pictures!
J. Dub 
Mar. 31, 2011 9:52 am
A great read! You make me want a dog. They are some of the sweetest beings on earth.
Mar. 31, 2011 3:30 pm
Love your blogs. I am there on the ranch with you when I am reading them. Such different lives we all lead! Hope Spring arrives soon for you and for all of us. We are all tired of the cold and the wind. Looking forward to your next entry!
Mar. 31, 2011 4:05 pm
Marley says Arf!Arf! to the "puppies"....Love you!
Mar. 31, 2011 6:16 pm
Back at ya Cindy! Hugs to you & Danny!(and of course, Marley!)
Apr. 3, 2011 8:39 pm
Question- what kind of dogs do you have? They are just beautiful!
Apr. 4, 2011 4:51 pm
They are Maremmas, which is a breed of Livestock Guardian Dog. They instinctively protect their charges, with their lives if necessary, but are totally independent, unlike other dog breeds who take their cues and training from humans. They are awesome dogs with incredible discretion!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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