It’s been a while since I updated my friends here on LJ about my non-woodworking activities, but, since I no longer have any woodworking activities, I thought I’d check in. Today here on the WY-Mont line, it is 6 degrees or so and snowing a little. We spent this last week gathering cattle from the biggest pasture we have on this part of the ranch. It’s on the Crow Indian reservation and I suppose it is about 25,000 acres. At any rate, we had 742 cows with calves, 32 bulls, and 988 yearlings heifers in there somewhere. It was a pretty cold week but we have most of them in a smaller pasture near my house. Now if we can get the heifers out of the herd tomorrow, we can wean the calves and get all this stuff out of here. It takes a lot of riding and we are as always, short-handed.
Of course, I had to complicate the fall work. On November 16th, we were gathering pairs out of the Bar V Meadow. Not all of it is flat, in fact, most of it is hilly. It is probably one of the prettiest places on the ranch, with pine edged hills and ridges and the Big Horn Mountains in the background. Like I said, we were gathering cattle in the very early morning, about 7:00. It was cold and clear with a thin layer of snow on the grass. The ground was frozen for the first time this winter. The sun was still about 30 minutes from making its daily appearance. I rode up on top of a hill to gather up some cows and calves. I could see a cow with her head down behind a few bushes. I knew the colt I was riding would spook when she threw her head up so I began yelling at her trying to get her to look at me before we got too close. Cows being cows, of course, she didn’t raise her head until we were right to her. And, horses being horses, the colt spooked to the right. None of this would have been a problem except I was riding a new roping saddle that I wanted to break in. I also had a new pair of overshoe stirrups on it which are over sized. I had a little snow on the stirrups and when the colt spooked, my left foot slipped out of the stirrup. I grabbed for everything I could but the results were predictable. I landed on my left shoulder and back much like a sack of spuds. My head banged the frozen ground and bells rang and birdies tweeted for a minute. I also landed with my head slightly down hill. Thankfully, no one witnessed this next moment. I thrashed around like a boneless chicken trying to get my feet under me while my knuckleheaded colt ran off a ways and looked at me. He had this look like, “What in the heck did you do that for?????” I trundled over to him and got my breath. When I grabbed the saddle horn to step on, my right hand told me there was something wrong. I got one awful loud pain right in front of my wrist on the bone that goes to my right thumb. Yeah, that one, the one I tore off in June. I pulled my glove off and sure enough it was starting to swell. I trotted after the cows and got them to the herd, still trying to figure out how I fell off the left side of my horse, landed on my left shoulder and my hard head and broke my right hand. I trotted up to my immediate supervisor(we are modern, now, no more cow bosses) with snow on my back and dirt on my cap. I told him I broke my hand. He said, “Oh.” like I’d told him it was cold. We pushed the herd on to the corral and I told Matt Miller that I had broken my hand. I got much the same reaction. Oh, well. When the cattle were corraled. I had Jesse, my pardner, unhook my trailer and again told everyone who could hear that I was on my way to the doctor.
I got home to find Carleen at the lodge. By now I’m trying to hold my hand way up in the air to keep the throbbing to a minimum. She told me she had to finish dinner for guests I had forgotten were coming at 3:00. Oh well, I got my hat and changed coats. I drove to the doctor who had rebuilt my thumb. X-rays, cat scan and a nice new cast on my thumb completed the day.
The next day I got my butt chewed by the office girl because I didn’t go to the office then go to the emergency room. Well, I tried to check this out in the Policy and Procedures Manual and the Employees Handbook with no luck. (neither exists). I said to hell with it and just kept working. Workman’s Comp will pay for the treatment and the paycheck goes on. I haven’t missed a but one day yet, but there are some things I can’t do. I do what I can and get Jesse to do the rest. If I can just keep from frost-biting the thumb in the next few days we are home free. I guess I put some “FALL” in the fall works,huh. My back has been bothering me since the fall so I went to a Chiropractor and then sat real still yesterday and today. Typing without one thumb is fun. I also thought a lot about how warm it can be in my shop at home in Jordan Valley. Sometimes I really miss that place. I miss you guys too. Keep the faith boys, I’ll be back some day.Tom
-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon