I’m sure you’ve all had those days, but our Saturday was a humdinger. We’d been hard at work all day. Will was working on our new pasture fence and I was harvesting beans and tomatoes. Then, late in the afternoon we got the call; a neighbor was calling to inform us that two of our yearling cattle and two calves were over at their place, trying to get in with their cattle! I phoned David, who was up on the roof of his cabin, and we took off for the neighbors’ three miles away via road, a mile as the crow flies. The neighbors had been trying to get our cattle in their corral but had no luck. All of us — the neighbor, his wife, Will, Alisha, and I managed to gently herd the older cattle into their corral. No big problem, but the darned young calves managed to crawl under their fence and get in with their cattle and bull. To top it all off, their lot was nearly knee deep in manure and mud, due to all the rain we’ve been having. Now, try to separate out two young calves (red) from a dozen other red calves and their moms, and keep an eye on their big bull while hopping around in the muck. David and I had on tennis shoes to boot — no time to change earlier. We finally got the calves together, out into another lot, and almost got them in the corral with the yearlings. Until one of the yearlings tried to get out and the calves bolted. Yep, back into the lot with the cattle. We got them back into the pasture and corralled into a small area. David managed to rope the biggest one, but the rope also snared a front leg, and in that position, you don’t have much control. That calf weighs about 300 pounds of muscle! It ended up with the youngest calf breaking out through the side fence, Will, David, and the neighbor getting knocked down in the mud, but David managing to get the rope off the leg and just around the calf’s neck. They dragged and pushed the calf all the way around to the corral and into it. Whew!

By then it was dark! Working with a flashlight, they managed to corral the youngest calf between rows of big round bales and David got a rope on him. He was smaller and the rope was just around his neck, so it was short work getting him to the corral. Then Will and David went home to get our truck and stock trailer. We hauled the wayward cattle home and unloaded them into the winter cow corral where the other cows were called and the gates shut. Will hauled a round bale of hay to the cows with the tractor with no headlights. David drove the four wheeler behind to give visibility. Finally, after 10;30, we headed for the house, a bunch of very tired, muddy cowboys! David called first shower as he was filthy. Will, not far behind as he’d lost a boot in the neighbor’s corral and fell, headlong, trying to get back into it. Not a pretty sight but we all couldn’t help laughing…

Over Sunday and Monday, David’s brother Bill came up to help him with his cabin, getting it weather tight for winter. They got the sides of the dormers sheeted with OSB and covered with house wrap. Then they ran house wrap all around the OSB on the sides of the cabin. Luckily, both days were sunny and warm. A bit warm for David, who was on the roof a lot. And the roof is covered with black roof wrap. He took off his shirt early and got a nice sunburn. A part Cherokee, he is now an official “red skin.”

David and Bill worked hard this weekend getting David’s cabin weather tight for winter.

I’ve been harvesting more tomatoes for seed. And today I picked one of my favorites, Dances With Smurfs cherry tomatoes. They are so pretty — black shoulders and reddish orange bottoms. And when you take off the stem and calyx, there is a perfect light star on each one! They taste really great too. I have to restrain myself when the first ones come ripe or I’ll pig out.

I just love Dances With Smurfs cherry tomatoes; they have it all: cute color, wonderful taste, and heavy production.

Today we are recovering from all the excitement. And it is raining … Again. — Jackie


  1. Jackie, I went to the Mother Earth fair in Albany Oregon last month and of course bought some more books etc. I had hoped you would be there! Now listening/ reading your blogs I know you are sooo busy FYI we folks out here love to hear of your daily life yes even the cows and muck so keep telling us your daily activities!!

  2. Jackie,
    You are always amazing me at the amount of work that you do.
    I feel so bad that your cattle are always getting out..How horrible. We raise cattle too and have no trouble with them getting out. Our fences are the eight foot steel posts, that are in the ground far enough that the top wire is 4 foot high. We have six strands of bob wire on the exterior fences around the ranch and 5 strands on any interior fences. The cattle don’t even try. They are happy to stay in at home.
    I’m about the same age as you, and can’t even imagine having to chase them down in the mud like that. I’d be give out, if I survived.
    I’m praying you don’t ever have to do that again. Build them strong around the outside of your property. It will be so worth it. You will never be sorry. I want you to be around for a very long time. Love you

    • Yea, we’re still building fence but sure can’t afford 8′ posts all around the land. Normally we don’t have so much trouble but this year the drought caused summer pasture to grow slower so we had to turn them out into the woods which isn’t as well fenced. And we have a couple of calves that crawl through three strands like it was nothing. Now they’re in “cow jail”, the winter cow lot; planks, stock panels and electric wire.

  3. David’s house looks great! And your “wayward calves roundup” sounded like something out of a Mel Brooks film, LOL! Seriously, I’m happy for you that everything turned out OK!

    • Not a one. We were too busy! Don’t want a repeat for a photo shoot either. We’re happy with David’s cabin. It’s coming right along.

  4. I grew up on a farm and my dad had a herd of about 35 Guernsey cows. One night when we were all sleeping the phone rang. a neighbor said cows out over at his house. I remember my dad and mother and my 2 brothers working to get them back home. I think they were up most of the night. Sure wished God had made them with the ability to understand our words “get back home”.

  5. The neighbors also have two mama’s and babies left in the pasture by our house. They have hauled out the rest of the cattle but these do not want to be caught! The nice weekend was appreciated but we also could do with a little less rain. Canned some apple sauce yesterday and was wondering why does it separate? Doesn’t seem to ever hurt anything just wondering. Happy harvesting. Will be doing the same.

    • Applesauce usually just separates when you put it in the jar cold. If it’s hot, it usually does not. I don’t know why; a lot of fruit does that.
      Yep, we’re hard at harvesting and canning right now. I’m so thankful but sometimes pretty tired too.

  6. Who needs TV when you have this kind of entertainment. Always when I think the fences are good the livestock will find a way to change that opinion. We had a bull once that we could never keep in our pasture and we called him Romeo and did he roam. After the 4th episode requiring trailer and family to get him home he went to the sale barn. This fall has been unseasonably rainy and warm. I am for the first time trying to process and save tomato seeds. It seems a lot easier than I expected and hopefully they will germinate next spring. The house looks great and you have made tremendous progress.

    • Yep, Will’s favorite heifer, Latte, is like your bull. I keep telling Will she won’t get out of the freezer but he doesn’t want to hear that. I sure wish the rains would stop. I don’t mind the warmth a bit as it’s letting some of our slow crops mature. Saving tomato seeds is easy! I’m sure yours will germinate.

  7. August was unseasonable, September is unseasonable! We’ve had more than double our average rain for September AND it hot and humid. I’ve lived in this area my entire life and don’t remember a September as warm as it has been, much less as humid. At least no flash floods in my area but a counties west of me did.
    Glad the bull didn’t add to the challenge of corralling the calves. Though it has been almost 55 years ago, I remember when the bull belonging to my grandparents’ neighbor got loose. He was pretty ornery – grandma and I watched grandpa, the neighbor, and a couple of others get him corralled. Grandpa kept the door propped open with her foot and one hand on my back, ready to haul me in if need be.

    • Cows sure are “entertaining” at times. Or I could say other words…. I’m finally able to sleep after all that excitement.

  8. The cattle antics sound like what we refer to as “Baxter Black” moments. If you have not heard of him you might want to look him up (on a cold winter’s night when you are not gathering your harvest of course!)

    ; – )

    • Oh I know Baxter, alright! He’s got the cattle thing down pat. For those of you who don’t know Baxter, he’s THE cowboy poet.

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