Sunday, May 15, 2011

10-14 May, 2011 Buff'ler Hunt and Making New Friends

It's been a busy and eventful week!  We got to meet a fellow Dirttimer living north of us who introduced himself as "gonfishn" a couple of months ago.  He and his family are a good group of people.  I've enclosed a few pictures from when we saw them.

The dog, "Dicey" was energetic and entertaining.  He reminds us of our dog, Odie.  The only time he isn't moving is when he's sleeping.

A nice PVC pipe greenhouse.  We're going to copy their design as soon as we get into Kalispell to buy the fittings and pipe.

Their son is into rock collecting (and hunting and shooting and a bunch of other things as well).  He showed us some of his stash.  The colors are beautiful.

The view from their land.  Sorry no pictures of the family without their permission.

Susan taking a break during the day.  The sun's been shining nicely and we've been soaking up as much of it as we can.  Yard swings are common in our yard.  We have one on the porch and two in the yard with plans for a couple of more in the yard.  With lots of them you have the choice of sun/no sun, wind/nowind, and rain/no rain.

Ahhh...breakfast. Pancakes cooking in the skillet.  We turn the lid upside down on the water kettle and put the plate on it.  We then put the skillet lid over the plates to pre-warm them.  As the pancakes are done we stack them on the plates under the lid so they stay moist and hot until served.

Susan enjoying the morning sunshine and a cup of coffee after breakfast.  The bird cage in the background is over the rhubarb to keep the chickens from scratching around the plants.  When the leaves are still small they can dig the whole plant up.  The cage won't be needed when the plants get bigger. 

Taking down the hoop house frame so we can add compost and till up this spot.

Leftover pancakes from the previous day.  We store uneaten pancakes in plastic bags to keep them moist.  When we re-heat them we put them on plates on the water kettle lid like we did in the previous picture.  It takes about fifteen minutes and they'll be hot, moist and ready to eat.

The goat gets tethered out in the mornings.  I feed him a can of alfalfa pellets a day this time of year because there isn't much grass yet.

The chickens dusting themselves.  We got five eggs yesterday so they're all laying at least part of the time.

Susan's digging up raspberry plants.  Some of these are going to be given away locally and she'll mail some to other friends.

Two packages of raspberry plants ready to mail.

I needed to do some wood cutting so I had to get the Dodge, 1 ton pickup started for the first time since last fall.  The carburetors are always dry so I prime the engine by pouring about a quarter cup of gasoline down the carb.  In this case the engine backfired and caught the gas on top of the carb. on fire.  I smothered it out with a pair of leather gloves.  Sorry, no pics of the fire (I was a little too busy at the time!).  When I got the fire out the truck started right up.  You can crank on them awhile and they'll eventually pump enough fuel into the carb. to start but that just wears out the starter and drains the battery.  If you prime it the motor starts immediately and quickly pumps the carb. full of gasoline.  The backfire and fire in the carb. happen occassionally.  It's not a big deal if you're ready for it.  I had a fire extinguisher handy but they make a huge mess so I don't use it unless the fire gets out of hand.  Things like that keep life from getting boring!

The left front tire was flat so I got out the portable compressor and put some air in it.

It's a 110 volt compressor so I had to hook an inverter to the truck's battery to power it.  I left the truck running during this time.  It takes awhile for a small compressor like this to put 60 lbs. of pressure into a 16 inch truck tire.

We had three small trees to take down and some others left over from thinning last year that needed cut into firewood.  We needed to finish this job up that day because we have some kids bringing their motorhome up to park it there on Saturday (it was Friday).

This was the last one to cut up.  I had to drop it between two trees which meant the top was going to be laying in a batch of small trees.  Kind of a pain to work around but better than having it hung up in a lrger tree.

Friday the 13th was a busy day.  We needed to go into Eureka to get a water pump for the Cherokee.  The road is dry now so I rode the motorcycle.  Susan stayed home and got a bunch of work finished up here.  I wrote from about 6:00 to 10:00 am then got the truck ready to go.  I took the raspberries to mail them and went on to Eureka for the water pump.   When I got back our son called (he's on the fire department and county search and rescue) to tell us the buffalo had been spotted on a road about five miles from here.  The bull was charging cars on the road.  The county dispatcher couldn't find anyone to deal with the problem.  The sheriff's dept. said it wasn't their problem as did the game warden and the forest service so they called the fire department.  He's on the fire department so that's how they found out who to contact regarding the buffalo.  He called us.  We called the dispatcher then the owner to appraise him of the new development.  The buffalo finally settled into a hay meadow.  The owner was on his way in the morning and asked me to meet him at 7:00 am at the Fortine Merchantile so that was the plan Friday night.  Unfortunately, I needed the truck for Saturday and it had a load of wood on it so I had to unload it.  By the time I finished that it was past 9:00 pm and getting dark outside.  I noticed a rear tire was low and thought maybe I ran over a nail.  We checked but couldn't find a hole in the tire so I got the air compressor out and got it pumped up to 60 lbs. all the time hoping it would still be full of air at 6:00 the next morning (it was).  The truck was low on gas also so I put three gallons in from cans we had on hand here.  That was plenty to get me to the gas station to add some more.  I set the alarm for 6:00 am just in case I overslept.

This is looking over the hay meadow near where the buffalo were.

Now, the rest of the story...  Thursday evening our neighbor stopped by with his 223.  It had a stuck cartridge in the chamber so we worked about an hour to get it out.  He also brought news that the buffalo were out of the pen and down at the neighbors below us.  When we finished up with his rifle Susan emailed the buffalo's owner and he said he'd be there to take care of it on Monday.  I told him I'd go looking for them in the morning (Friday).  Which I did after breakfast but I couldn't find them. I got the Dodge running and you know how the rest of Friday went! 

When we found the buffalo and talked to the landowner the buffalo had been in the area since 9:30 Thursday night so between 5:30 and 9:30 they travelled 5.63 miles (as the crow flies ... don't you just love GPS's?).  My guess is that they had some mountain lions or wolves to keep them moving.  They had to go through one of the heaviest concentrations of mountain lions in the area to get where they were.

The nearby landowner wasn't happy with the idea of shooting the buffalo on his property.  He wanted us to round them up and take them back alive but finally realized that you don't "round up" buffalo without a large pen to drive them into and then keep channeling them into smaller areas until you have them corraled.  That wasn't going to happen in this case.  In an open meadow like that they'd either charge the trucks or take off into the woods (most likely).  While we were talking the buffalo got nervous and started to wander off so we went searching for them.  He had some friends from home as well so there were seven of us with three trucks.  The beasts were found and put down then the real work began.  Three buffalo to skin and quarter.  One large bull and two cows.  The buffalo in the picture above is the oldest cow (4 or 5 years old I think).

The bull was in the sun so we dragged him into the shade along with the younger (3y.o.) cow.

The work begins on the bull.  There were two of us on each of the two cows.

The bull being skinned with one hind-quarter cut.

The gut pile from the bull.

We used a chainsaw to cut through the back-bone.  This is the bull.

These are the knives I brought.  I used only the butcher knife and only had to sharpen it twice.  It actually performed better than the more expensive knives brought by the others.  It cut better and stayed sharp longer.  The curved cutting surface at the front was perfect for skinning.

Half a cow buffalo under the plastic (to protect it from dust) and two hides.  They weren't very careful with the skinning so one hide has many, many cuts.  The chainsaw did some damage too.

When I got home I was beat.  I was either going to lay down and rest or go shoot gophers a bit.  I covered the truck's bed and got the meat airing out and cooling down and grapped the rifle and a box of ammo.  I figured I could lay down and rest behind the rifle as easily as anywhere else.

Twenty shots later I had about a dozen gophers.  I had a stiff crosswind so the shooting was a bit of a challenge.  I missed one gopher about five times.  I started calling him the "ghost gopher" because I was sure the bullets were going right through him with no effect.  (He's still out there too!)  Most shots were in the 125 to 175 yard range.

After about an hour I was out of ammo and needed to cut up the meat so it was back to the house.  I got the meat cut up and cooling in the fridge (there's no room left for anything else now).  The dog is very happy.  I just saw her walking through the woods with a huge bone, looking for someplace to hide it from the chickens.  We had tenderlion buffalo steaks on the barbecue grill.  They were delicious. 

Tomorrow (Sunday) it will be time to stretch the hides and work on them then get out the meat grinder and canning jars.  Two of our kids are now parked on the flat below us in their motorhome.  There'll be more details about that on future blogs.

The sad part of the saga is that I will miss having the buffalo next door.

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