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Trout and Horse Driving

April 19, 2014, Valley Falls, OR - Before starting the blog, I wanted to include a picture of my grandpa Jake, taking his last journey on earth in a beautiful hearse, pulled by a magnificent pair of blacks, owned by my cousin Tim Marshall. Jake was laid to rest Thursday, clad in a good pair of bib overhauls with his cap in his hand.

One of my fondest memories of Jake is when he would use a nail and a piece of string to predict whether a mare was with foal and whether she was going to have a filly or a horse colt.  He was especially good at this. Of course if a young lady was present, he would dangle the nail alongside her flank. I could never tell if the gal was upset, relieved, or just amused when he would tell her, “Well, you’re not pregnant.”

Howard (Jake) Sheaffer 1912 - 2014 - RIP

In between finishing up some projects and doing chores, we’re managing to hitch up the horses and go for a ride several times a week.  For the next couple of weeks, the trips will only be 7 or 8 miles long, pulling the unloaded wagon. As the horses start getting in better shape I’ll lengthen the drives and start increasing the weight they are pulling.

Taking a short break at the end of Abert Rim Road,

Yesterday, we had an invitation to go fishing with some friends at Withers Lake. I never had an opportunity to fish this particular lake and was in for a pleasant surprise.  Within 2 or 3 hours, we had a nice stringer of a dozen 10 to 14 inch Brook and Rainbow trout. The Brook trout were all natives and Rainbows were holdovers from previous years.  There are few things as pleasant and good for the soul as casting a line in pristine clear waters of a mountain lake. Our chocolate lab Hershey helped out by periodically jumping in the lake and herding the fish towards the hooks.

Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it?

After a quick stop at the local cowboy bar Jacquie, myself and our friends Gerin and Candace headed back to the house and filled the grill with trout. A belly full of fish and beer is the best way to end a perfect day.

This morning, Candace and Gerin Moon joined us on the wagon for our morning training run.  Gerin is interested in getting a team to feed cattle in the winter and to put out mineral blocks in the summer.

Candace, taking a spell on the lines.

Like always, Doc and Bill drove good together. They were up on the bit and stepping out pretty good.  I opened them up on the backstretch and let them run for about half a mile. A little “yeehaw” always helps liven up a drive.

The Moon’s have two ranches. One of them is about 100 miles north of here and is where they hold their cattle in the winter time. The other ranch is located here in Valley Falls, just a few miles away and is used as summer range.  Next weekend, Jacquie and I are invited to attend their spring branding.  Branding time is a social event when friends and neighbors from surrounding ranches show up to lend a hand. It’s a leftover tradition from a time when all cattle ran loose on open range without any fences. Ranches would send representatives to ensure the calves that ran with their cows would receive their ranches’ brand. The tradition carries on to this day, even though barb wire has made it less of a necessity.

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