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Labor on Labor Day

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Horsewright, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    As many of you know, besides being a knife maker and leather craftsman we have a small cattle ranch. Every three months we gather the entire herd. This is done as our grass, while very strong in nutrients and our cattle stay fat, is weak in copper and selenium. We use to supplement with mineral tubs and then we switched to a liquid supplement. Both of these methods were only partial solutions as some of the cattle got more than their share and others didn't. They were also very labor intensive and particularly the liquid, SPENDY. Also, I'd estimate it at 60-70 percent effective.

    At the advice of our vet, we started this new program where every three months we gather in the herd and everyone gets a mineral supplement injection. Its really working and we've been doing it for several years now. Each cow/calf/bull etc is given the right amount based on weight and you know that they got it. Periodic worming and other maintenance/doctoring etc are done at this time, as well as branding and processing of any new calves and shipping of any heading off to the sale.

    The ol retired cowdog remembering when she use to go too:


    The work, pairing up. Salty is trying to decide which "slick" (unbranded and untagged) calf, see those three to his right, goes to which cow. this is important as we track each cow and how she produces:


    Tyler and I getting ready to rope a calf prior to processing now that its been paired up.


    Nichole, my wife putting the iron on one:


    The last few years our gathers have been very effective but this time we were missing 6 cows. So after taking attendance we went out again. We'd seen one cow way up on the hillside when we were coming in with the main group so we were heading back out to check that area out. She wasn't up there anymore but I could see a pair at the water way up The Bowl. So I divided my crew and sent Nichole, with a couple other folks to gather up that pair (momma and calf) and head them back to the corrals. I took Tyler with me as we both have whats called "big circle" horses, horses that can really cover ground. I also brought Emma with us. Emma is a 16 year old young friend of ours that was riding a relatively new horse and I'd noticed he'd been overly energetic coming across the flats. I figured the big circle and the climbing might do him good. So we hit a long trot and got on out of there. We got around Rocky Point and then slowed down in the back corner due to the terrain. Getting back to where we needed to be so we could come forward on that area where the cow had been seen up on top, we started to climb. We were heading to an area on the ranch we hadn't been too in a couple of years, as we'd always been"clean" in our gathers. No need to go up there if the cattle aren't there. Its a huffer and a puffer of a climb, no doubt, for the horses, but we leveled out on the bench to come back west across the ridge. We hadn't gone far when we noticed a blue tarp in some brush flapping, Getting closer we saw that it was strung up in a tree by a tent. Whats that doing way up here on our ranch? And folks ask us sometimes why we carry on the ranch. We had Emma hang back and I went around one side and Tyler went around the other. The camp was in disarray and looked pretty windblown and abandoned. What concerned us was there was young girls clothing there, including a ripped apart bra laying on the ground. Was this a runaway, a kidnapping or worse? I asked Emma to ride up and showed her the bra and asked her how old the girl was and she figured 12-14. Because of these suspicions I called the Sheriffs Dept. To their credit they had two deputies at the ranch gate in minutes. Nichole had got that pair back to the corrals so she grabbed a truck and met them there and brought them over to the corner. We met them down at the base of the mountain and they stripped off their body armor and those heavy gun belts and putting the big Glocks in their pockets and their radios in the other the two deputies followed us back up the mountain. Now it was a real huffer and puffer for those two guys on foot but they never weakened. Tyler hiked it too as he loaned Nichole his horse.

    They got up there and started carefully digging around and they found some id for a guy that had a warrant but they also found a letter from his daughter and it seemed she was about the same age as what we thought this girl might of been. They also found a duffel bag of clothing for a girl about this age. So that kind of allayed some of those fears. Numerous needles, syringes and other drug items for meth use were found and seized by the deputies and while casting around we found several more tents set up and a whole encampment in a brush arbor deal they were creating. This too looked abandoned and we found an ice chest with a milk bottle in it dated 6/22/19 and we were there on 8/2. The deputies surmised that these "tweakers" had been down to town and got arrested burglarizing someplace and thats why the whole crew hadn't been back. Went back to the corrals and had a beer and gave the deputies some water and Gatorade.

    In the next few weeks we made several trips up there to check and the whole encampment had been left as we'd seen it last. We were also seeing if Tyler could get his quad up there to help haul stuff out. He could but he wasn't sure he could get it back down in one piece so that wasn't an option. On Labor Day, Tyler and his wife Cara, Steve our ranching partner, Salty and his girlfriend Lucia helped Nichole and I go clean up the place.

    Putting the panniers on the pack saddle. Lil Man had never been packed before but he's a wonder horse he can do anything. I'd made this pack saddle over 25 years ago. Bought the tree and then used a whole side of harness leather to build the rest. A LOT of strap work building one of these guys! I've made probably 4 or 5 over the years I guess. Notice I got two pairs of cut resistant gloves in my belt. Gonna wear those when packing up all the crap up on the bench. We provided them to the rest of the crew too.


    Heading back around the corner. About 1/2 a mile past those trees then we'll start criss crossing up to the bench back to our left. All that rocky slope coming down on our left in this pic is the southern tip of The Sierra Nevada and up on top of that is where we got to go, "the bench":


    The first tent, sleeping bags, duffels and an ice chest all bundled up in the tent ready to go on top of Lil Man:


    Then we moved over to the encampment:





    Found a whole stack of smart phones in a bag and also many empty wallets. Total of four tents, numerous duffels, packs and tarps too. Tyler found a hammer,he's happy cause he's a tool guy. We were all wearing knives that I'd made and they were useful cutting down all the hanging stuff:


    George, my horse, hanging out hobbled waiting for me:


    Lil Man and Josie too hanging out. Josie is hobbled and Lil Man is tied to that tree:


    Lil man ready with the first load:


    Nichole and I ready to lead him down:


    We got er down the mountain and tossed the load into the back of the ol Chevy and headed back up for the next. Tyler and Salty had stayed up top and continued to bundle stuff up. While heading back we ran into them dragging huge bundles of stuff straight down the face through all those rocks in that pic where we starting to ride around the corner. I hopped down and took over for Salty and gave him George to ride back. Salty has several broken vertebra and a really banged up shoulder that they are getting ready to do surgery on. An ex girlfriend ran him over bout a year ago. He kinda tore up. Saved a lot of trips for Lil Man those guys hauling that stuff down. I'd estimated it was gonna be 5 or 6 trips up and down that mountain. We were able to get to these bundles with the quad by cutting a crossfence and Cara drug all the stuff back:


    That was that. Filled the back of the Chevy. This pic was back at the house. The dark mountain behind Cara's and Tyler's yellow house was where we were:


    Took the crew out for pizza and beer and the ranch bought of course. Great to have good friends. Man did that truck stink by the time we got all that stuff out to the dump. Folks always talk about the glamour of the cowboy life..........not so much always.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    Storm Crow, peanutsxx, wkfl and 24 others like this.
  2. WEB2


    Oct 13, 2004
    Horsewright likes this.
  3. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    That’s a damn shame what people will do on others land. I’ve been reading stories of Wildlife and Fisheries Agents encountering illegal grow operations. It’s unbelievable what is being done and until recently nothing in place to clean up and reclaim these sites.

    Another fine job in your part.
  4. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Thanks! Speaking with a nearby rancher and he's keeping an eye on a 5 mile irrigation line that ain't suppose to be there. Fortunately, ours didn't seem to be attached to a grow at all. We did buy a drone so we can check places like this with out half killing a horse to get there. We've got places on our ranch we've never been to because we can't figure out how to get up there.
  5. Jolipapa

    Jolipapa Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    Reality once again exceeds fiction. Amazing how some people waste such an energy they could use for better causes (they must have met some troubles to reach this part of the land!). You and horses did a great job, sure!
    scrteened porch likes this.
  6. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    No doubt there was some blood sweat and tears getting all that up there for sure. Thanks.
    Jolipapa likes this.
  7. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Yes, it's astounding that in a remote location these people were actually able to get all that stuff up there. What would they survive on, any game to hunt ?

    Not the sort of camp you'd want to encounter by accident in the dark - or alone :eek:

    There are some pretty remote places in the forests here but our arctic winter makes survival a knife edge affair for would be fugitive;)

    Great clean up job, surprised you didn't need a mask though.....
  8. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

    Feb 24, 2000
    Thanks! Interesting story and great pictures. You have some beautiful horses.
  9. Dusty One

    Dusty One Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    What a mess to have to clean up. Glad it was abandon so you didn't have to deal with the people. Labor on Labor for sure....Great friends !
  10. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Yes there is quite a bit of game to hunt there in that area of the ranch. Deer, an occasional elk or antelope, bear, our cattle and lots of boars. In fact of all the trips going up there including the original discovery, this last cleanup trip was the only time we didn't about step on a huge boar. But I don't think they were ambitious enough for that. I think they were living off of theft in town. Tons of opened packaged foodstuffs to clean up. Yeah this was a spring summertime camp too. Come winter time that would be downright cold up there. Always a wind too up on that bench.
    Thanks Tom. Yeah they are some pretty good ones.

    Yeah it was a job for sure. We've had to chase trespassers off quite a few times before. Big chunk of wild country close to a town is tempting I guess. In that pic of Cara on the quad ya can see all the flats there behind the rigs. Those flats stretch to the right a couple of miles. All of that part of the ranch including where we are parked is in city limits. Can make for some interesting interactions. Great friends indeed! They are always there.
  11. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2018
    I’ve got an uncle in mid Missouri who still farms his mother’s old place ( he’s in his 70’s now). Former marine sniper from what I’m told. Used to have an issue with people on his property during deer season. The property is posted all over hell and back but they used to come anyways.... used to..... then he got out his old rifle ( didn’t you have to turn that in?...shut up kid)and a megaphone. We were up there for a family thing and Bobby just sat on the back porch with binoculars. I happened to be out there chatting with him when he sat up straight and put the binoculars down and grabbed the rifle. I was like, your not gonna shoot them are ya? He said no, better than that. I grabbed the binocs in time to see him put one in a tree about two feet in front of the guy at eye level. He grabbed the bull horn and told them it was the only warning they’ll get. Not even sure if they heard him as it was damn far away. But that being said, he didn’t have anymore issues!

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