Fixing Repairs 

If there is anything I’ve learned from living on a ranch, it is that repairs never end. Whether it is repairing a fence, tractors, barns or even a horse, it simply is ongoing!

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I cleaned the interior and exterior of all the tractors. This CAT Challenger is the one we use for baling.

With the abundance of water this spring and early summer heat, our hay crop has flourished. We started haying 2 weeks earlier than usual. This meant that we needed to fix the tractors earlier. Some of the ongoing repairs we had were changing the oil, sharpening sickles on mowers and greasing basically anything that moved. With technology improving some of the repairs have become easier, but others more difficult as I am constantly learning new things. For instance, calibrating the round baler to the CAT tractor was easy, but making the perfect bale using the computer, not so much. I am learning old and new techniques to repair tractors, and brainstorming ways to create a more efficient operation.

Horse has proven to be a very well behaved patient! (Which makes our job 10x easier)
Horse has proven to be a very well behaved patient! (Which makes our job 10x easier)

My 3 year old colt, Horse (this is just a temporary name!) got a wire cut on her fetlock, cutting deep into the corner bulb. We called Dr. Sare from Western Skies Veterinary Services, where he showed me how to wrap her leg. My dad and I have been changing her bandages every other day. Horse and I were making lots of progress and it is heartbreaking watching her so inactive. I had planned to work with her more for the rest of the summer, but our time was cut short due to this injury. However, she has been making a remarkable recovery and we will be back to training in no time!

But this is just life on a ranch. Something is always in need of maintenance or repairs, be it equipment, or animals.

Meet Me on the Green! 

My gentle giant, Red Pepper Smoke.
My gentle giant, Red Pepper Smoke during the parade.

Last week (July 9-12) was the 80th annual Green River Rendezvous in Pinedale. The town doubles (at least) in population every year. While many locals like to hide out, this weekend is my favorite time of the year. From the rodeos, to the street vendors (yes funnel cakes!), to the reenactment of the Green River Rendezvous. The Rendezvous took place in this area six times in the 1820s and 30s. This is my 5th year participating in the rodeos and my 4th in the reenactment/ pageant. This year I used two of my favorite horses Pepper and Cowboy for these events.

Pepper enjoyed all the attention from the crowd!
My horse Cowboy and I riding around the arena at the beginning of the rodeo.
My horse Cowboy and I riding during the grand entry.

I was honored to carry the Wyoming flag for the three rodeos on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There was an additional Veterans tribute on Saturday night and I carried one of four American flags. On Saturday morning there was a parade, and I used my big 16 hand red-roan horse, Pepper. Don’t be fooled by his size; he is a gentle giant! Pepper absolutely loves the tiny humans! We rode along near the crowd the whole parade, while tourists and locals alike took pictures or dared to pet him. I take great pride in this wonderful state and whether it is carrying the Wyoming flag at our local rodeo, or being the Wyoming Beef Ambassador, I am so honored.

My little palomino, Cowboy strutting his stuff at the reenactment.
My little palomino, Cowboy the pony dancer. 

Sunday was the Green River Rendezvous Pageant. This is a reenactment of the original rendezvous and I was a pony dancer. Pony dancers were skilled, male horse back riders; however, five out of the six of us were girls! We ride around bareback with “jaw reins” which is simply just a piece of leather in our horse’s mouth. After three years participating in the pageant, I started to make my own costume. I made my own shirt but didn’t quite finish my pants, so I borrowed a pair. The pony dancers perform a pattern towards the end of the pageant. We are split up into two different groups and enter the arena from opposite sides. We are galloping full speed and come together to perform a crisscross pattern, weaving inside and out of each other. It’s a real thrill (even though my mother might disagree)!

Cowboy is a competitive horse! Whenever we ran alongside another horse he always had to be a little ahead.
Cowboy is a competitive horse! Whenever we ran alongside another horse he always had to be a little ahead.

This year I learned more about the Native American culture. The Arapaho tribe from Lander, Wyoming stayed at my mother’s bed and breakfast, and they shared their thoughts on the reenactment. The chief said the reenactment was not offensive and that this event is a great opportunity to teach the public about our history. However, he noted that “warrior paint” on the Native American actors should be used carefully. He explained that as a chief he earned those markings on his face for being in the United States Army. The pony dancers and I all respected this and we did not put any warrior paint on our faces. Nonetheless, this year’s rendezvous was a success!

Even though this post has no relevance to cattle and the beef industry, I wanted to share my experience with you all. (I also did not work very much this weekend). This however does show how smart ranch horses can be! 😉 Between parades, to moving cows, to rodeos, to pageants, ranch horses can do it all!

As the Mountain Men once said, “until next year, meet me on the green!”

Cattle and wolves and bears, Oh My!

The Sommers Ranch on the Green River in Sublette County move their cattle in the same area we do. They've added humor to their ranch logo!
The Sommers Ranch on the Green River in Sublette County move their cattle in the same area we do. They’ve added humor to their ranch logo!

The past few days have slowed down, so this blog post will be about moving our cattle to summer pasture this past June. The evening before the cattle drive we gathered the cows and calves from a BLM pasture about 5 miles from our ranch, and put them in a smaller pasture for the next morning. The next morning came early with a breakfast at 3:30 in the morning. (Yes, we are running on a few hours of sleep!) We are at the holding pin by 4:30 a.m. and get the day started! We move them on Wyoming Highway 352 for most of the morning and stopped for lunch around 10. At this point the sun was beating down on both the cattle and the Cowboys (and girls!) and everyone was growing tired. About 14 hours and 20 miles later we made it to the pasture in the Upper Green.

The next day my dad and I headed up to the pasture to find two dead calves that we suspected were bear kills. We drove a few miles down the road to receive cell reception and called the Wyoming Game and Fish Warden. He came out and inspected the calf kills and ruled one being a bear kill and the other a wolf kill. He also brought out a bear trap but only left it for a day. If the trap was there longer the chances of capturing the wrong bear increased. Each bear that is captured receives a tattoo in their lip. If the same bear is captured again, it is known because of the tattoo. This way the Game and Fish can keep track of each bear and their kills. The bear will be relocated if they cause too much damage.

It is very frustrating for a cattle rancher to spend all spring trying to keep their calves alive for them to be bait for wild animals. It takes years of effort to produce a herd genetically adapted to an area, and it is very discouraging to see our life’s work be killed. Nonetheless, it is just how it is. There are many misconceptions that all cattle ranchers hate wolves and bears, and while they can be frustrating, my family and I would have to disagree. We do not hate the wolves and bears; they are magnificent creatures, but they are antagonistic to our beef production and we can’t afford to feed them. Wolves and bears are a part of the ecosystem. We cannot thank the Game and Fish more for their help and we are just crossing our fingers for no more kills!

Irrigate, fence and repeat…

My patient 3 year old horse waiting for me to finish fixing the fence.
My patient 3 year old horse waiting for me to finish fixing the fence.

I have come to the conclusion that I’ve spent most of my summer so far doing one of two things: fencing or irrigating. Often both. Most ranches in Sublette County irrigate their fields using a flood irrigation system. This method has been used on my ranch for over a century. It might be old fashioned, but it gets the job done. I clear out ditches from branches and other “trash,” and dig smaller canals by hand to push the water out onto the grass. We try to utilize as much water as possible to maximize efficiency. This past winter we had heavy, dense snow. While the water has been great for irrigating, the snow caused lots of wires to loosen and break off from the fence posts. I’ve been trailing the fences around the ranch and lots we lease to mend these broken wires. Despite the hard work, there are little moments that constantly remind me why I love this traditional agricultural life. For instance, the other day I found a fence post staple that had been stapled in from the left side rather than the right. That is always a sign that my grandpa did that. Although he was right handed, he used tools with his left for some reason. Even though he passed away several years ago, it is nice to see that his work (and his memory) remains.  Good management keeps the ranch in tip top shape!

Growing up on a Wyoming Ranch

My red horse and red cows.
My red horse and red cows.

Hello everyone! My name is Laura Noble and I live on a cattle ranch in Cora, Wyoming. I am honored to represent this wonderful state through the Wyoming Beef Ambassador program! I am one of four daughters working on our family’s cattle ranch. We are the 5th generation on the family homestead.

In the fall of 2013, I started my own cattle herd. My dad has his black Angus and I wanted to be able to tell my cattle from his, so my cattle are red. This all started when I offered to buy a few of his steers and raise them for a year and sell them the following fall. But my dad suggested that I continue the family tradition and start my own herd. My little herd has expanded from 3 cows to a total of 5 cows, 5 calves, 2 heifers and 2 bulls.

This summer I’ve been working for my dad learning the history and the ways of working on the ranch. This blog is about my life here on the ranch.