Here we are!  May 2004!!  Where did April GO??  May started off just like April ended- unloading cattle.

Here's a beef coming off the truck at the portable chute.

Here we are at the pens at the house.  That's me behind the gate.  My job here is to count the cattle as they come off the truck.  After we get them all off and all the paper-work signed and taken care of, I'll open the gate I'm leaning on and drive the cattle down the road into the gate just over my head in the distance.  This is my last load of the year and was originally in a convoy of three.  This truck was about 8 hours late because the driver was arrested in Texas for various outstanding charges.  The trucking company got another driver and sent the cattle on up.  At this point, I'd already put two truck loads in the pasture and as we were signing papers for this load, 14 head from the previous truck came grazing down the road- they'd already figured out how to get out of the pasture!!  I ran this herd into them and put the whole bunch into the pasture, then went and fixed fence.  Then, I fixed my feeder- doing some welding to a broken shock support- and finally got in for supper at 7:30 pm.  But, the cattle are all here (1,965 of 'em) and we're ready to start feeding, doctoring, rounding up strays, etc.  I'm pretty much tied to the ranch now until October.

This is what the inside of a cattle truck looks like after the steers are out.  It's quite the maze in there.

Although the cattle unloading went extremely well, I did have a little trouble with water.  Here you can see that there's no water coming out of this float, and there should be!  There's 300 cattle in this pasture and they're going to be needing water.  There is probably an air-lock in the pipeline somewhere.  I need to find out where, so....

...I go to high spots in the pipeline and uncover a little section of line.

Then I use a sheetrock screw to puncture a little hole in the line.  Here's a hole and there's no water coming up.  There should be water shooting 2' in the air, but all I'm getting is a blast of air.  I'll leave this open until the air is worked out and water starts coming out, then twist the sheetrock screw in to stop it.  After several years of doing this, I have the spots pretty well figured out and can usually dig right to my previous hole.  If I were smart, I'd put PVC in the hole to mark it for next year.

Coming back a little later, I find this hole full of water- good!!!  That means that the air is all gone and water has at least reached this point.  Eventually, I got all the air out and my pipeline full of water and working.

May 5th marked the first snake of the year, a decent sized bullsnake that showed up down at the barn.  This is exactly how they look most of the would be fine if snakes were fluorescent orange and stayed in the open all the time, but no!!!  You're walking along, right where you've walked a dozen times that day, and SUDDENLY THERE'S A SNAKE!!!  And this is often all you see of them.  It tends to get the old heart pumping a little bit.

Here's Chance The Wonder Dog checking out the snake. 

May 15th:  It's been nice and quiet.  I've mostly been feeding cattle, checking water, adjusting the pipeline timer, and working on the fence.

The jack on my feed trailer broke and I needed to replace it.  Here I'm removing the old jack.  The new one is waiting on the tail gate.  It's a much better jack. The gears are exposed on the old one and internal on the new one.  On the old jack, the wheel pivots directly off the shaft, and on the new one, it's welded to a support and the entire shaft pivots.

I'm welding the new plate on here.  I'm wearing ordinary leather gloves, a sweatshirt, and a poly vest, NOT approved welding gear.  At least I have a mask on.....

Clamps holding the mounting plate on after I welded the top.  Please don't critique my welding....I'm just a stick'em together welder.

Here's the new jack, securely (I hope) welded to the trailer frame.  The trailer holds 2500 lbs. of feed and it sure is nice having a new, powerful, jack.

Later, it was time for a haircut.  Baby Derek watches as Mom mans the shears.  Home haircuts save us a LOT of time (and money) and I wear a hat 90% of the time anyway.

After haircuts and welding trailers, it's time to do something fun.  Here I'm making a new nut for Steven Stone's Gibson Fern.  Betchya Frank Ford doesn't have days like this.....<g>.

Here's  a view from my front porch.  This is what I like to see- cattle spread evenly over the pasture. 

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