Saturday, September 11, 2004

“The wolf is knocking at my door.”

“The wolf is knocking at my door.”

The wolf is knocking at my door...says he.
The wolf is knocking at my door ... says she.

That was the first verse.
Now we sing:
The wolf is in the kitchen eating my supper.

Just about noon today the phone rang and it was the cowboy (Cort) who stays with the cattle at the grazing permit on Taylor's Fork.
He had been out moving a bunch of cattle and heard an awful racket.
Cattle bellerin.
He went on high to investigate and got there just in time to count 12 wolves.
They had the cattle all bunched up in a corner.
He fired a few warning rounds and the wolves left and the cows seemed ok.
but a closer look turned up a dead calf.
He headed for the closest spot that he could get cell phone coverage.
A three hour ride.

Rick told him to go back and tarp the animal to keep it from the ravens.
And he started making phone calls.
Within a half hour he had the district "wolf guys" headed to cow camp to verify the kill.
They had to drive from Helena and planned to meet Rick near Bozeman
...turns out they had just walked in the door from a trip to Deer Lodge where they were trapping problem wolves.

Saundra caught horses.
I packed the cooler with food.
Rick packed his 270.

More phone calls.
The wolf guy had to call the grizzly bear guy so they could get a helicopter to fly over and locate the grizz with her cub...
the one that most certainly was headed for the dead calf and would not appreciate Rick and his fellow investigators poking around her "dinner".
One of the state investigators had a saddle but no horse.

Saundra caught more horses.
I packed more food.
Rick calmly assessed the situation: Well...we've been lucky up until now.
But today we weren't so lucky.

In less than three hours Rick was out of cell phone range and i have nothing new to report on the wolves.
I'm home holding down the fort.
I called the horse shoer who dropped everything and drove to the ranch.
He just left after shoeing 4 more horses.
In order to keep the cattle will be a 24/7 effort.
More than one man or one horse will be up to...especially in this heat.

We depend on the mountain simply bring the cattle home before our 90 days of grazing are up would mean less winter feed here at the home place.
And the question looms....will we even be able to go to the mountains with the cattle next year.
Hard to say.
Hard to say.

And that is the ranch report.
Instead of going from the frying pan to the fire....
We went from the fire to the wolves.