From Pipi’s Pasture: May returns to Moffat County
May is here again, and to say it is a busy time is an understatement. Here at Pipi’s Pasture, with branding, checking and repairing fences — and getting ready for summer pasture “turn-out”
(not to mention gardening and lawn work and other spring chores) — the days just fly by. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of a weather year it is, either — dry or wet, early spring or late — it’s always a hectic, busy time.
When May is cool, the grass on our high country pasture is late coming on. My siblings and I remember our father, Kenneth Osborn, saying the grasses on summer pasture doesn’t really get going until there are leaves on the serviceberry bushes. Our brother, Duane, reports there are tiny leaves on the bushes now. Many years, we have to hold the cattle at home for awhile, and that means extra hay — and extra vigilance in checking fences so cows don’t crawl out.
More often than not, we have to postpone branding at least once due to rain or snow. We can’t brand wet calves, and we have to make sure we can walk in a corral that is all-too-often sloppy. The rain and snow this week has left a slippery corral, and we’re hoping there will be a couple of sunny days to dry it out, as we plan to brand this weekend. Trying to work around the weather to brand is typical for May.
Other May observations from Pipi’s Pasture:
• Most of the trees and bushes have tiny leaves on them, and the tulips are starting to bloom.
• The killdeer birds have been singing their kill-dee-ee song, and this week, the robins have been singing their rain song.
• The cows and calves have been poking their heads through the fences, searching for every little bit of green grass.
• The cows have their heads over the fence, noses pointed in the direction of summer pasture, or perhaps smelling wild onions. (My cousin, Beverly Counts, says they may be hoping to hitchhike to pasture.)
• We are told large numbers of elk are spending time on summer pasture, on their way to the high country.
• The ground squirrels are out.
• The snakes are out, too.
• We’re putting snow tools, such as shovels and blowers, away for the summer and hanging our snow clothes in the back of the closet.
• The tank heaters have been removed from the stock tanks.
• Before branding can take place, the calf table the bull knocked over has to be put upright again.
• Turbo, the bottle calf, is getting used to his backyard home.
• On Friday, we have to purchase propane, vaccine, needles and other supplies for branding day. That also goes for the necessary ingredients for branding day lunch and plenty of bottled water.
• The stock trailer is being checked out and necessary repairs made.
• Summer pasture fences still need to be checked and gates closed.
• The hatchet, lost when it slipped out of my hand this past winter, remains hidden in the mud in the bottom of the stock tank and will be recovered when the corral is dry enough to drain the water out of the tank.
It’s another May.
About a week ago I was rolling a bale of hay down past the loading dock of the corral so that I could throw hay over the fence. Right there in the path was some rhubarb. It isn’t that the rhubarb hadn’t been there before, but I thought it had died out during the drought. It isn’t easy to get water to that location. The rhubarb is nice and tender, and I’m determined to use it up before the stalks get tough. So I hunted up my rhubarb recipes.