on Muggins Crick at the Creek Place

Today’s Weather:  High of 11.  Low of minus 6.  Beau says the high must have been before daylight this morning, because by the time we were caking cows at 10 a.m., the temperature gauge on the pickup was steady at 2° F.


Today On The Ranch:  The kids and I headed to the Creek Place to cake cows with Beau this morning.  The water tank there was still dry.  We drove to the top of the Spring Pasture to check the storage tank that is partway between the well that feeds the tank and the tank itself, on the 4-mile-long pipeline.  The 28,000-gallon storage tank was indeed filling with water from the well side, but slowly, because the well pumps only 300 gallons per hour and services a bunch of cows at its source before it pushes water up the line to the storage tank.  Beau had previously considered, but opted not to because of the weather, prime the storage tank by hauling water to it from a nearby reservoir.  He felt it was safe, though, to go ahead and cake the cows today, because we did get a little snow this morning and if cows get thirsty enough they’ll lick snow.  Here’s hoping the tank is filling as I type!

In case you’re totally confused about the pipeline, pictures always help.  Here is the storage tank (looking west):


Here, Beau and the kids look into the storage tank and discern there’s not much water yet:


North of the storage tank, waaay down in the bottom of Willow Creek, is the well.  Wells are rare commodities out here, which is why we pipeline water around.  (That road down there leads to Horse Camp, out of site over the horizon.)


South of the storage tank, at the far left of the picture below, is the tank that water will travel to once the storage tank is full enough:


So the water starts at a well in the bottom of one creek, climbs a hill to a storage tank, and then goes down the hill to the bottom of a different creek.


Also today…

While we were at the Creek Place, my dad was at Froze-to-Death Pasture caking his own bunch of cows and having trouble with his electric-motor caker (that’s the contraption that carries and doles out cake to the cows from the back of the pickup).  Beau is asking Dad to use a different kind of caker this year compared to the one Dad has always used before, and it’s been a tough conversion for everybody.  After two blown fuses just this morning, Dad and his reinforcement ended up just shoveling the cake out of that new-fangled machine… to 360 cows.  At 4 pounds of cake per cow, that’s a lotta shoveling.


Other big stuff from today:  our local state brand inspector joined us for lunch and he and Beau got all the paperwork figured out for the PV calves that were weaned in Rosebud County, then transferred to the feedlot in Treasure County.

Even though it was downright chilly outside, the kids talked me into a few sledding runs this afternoon.  This evening I ran Asher and Emi into town for piano practice.  Beau stayed home with the littles.



Today’s Best Photos:

Not many gates are padlocked around here, but our neighbors did lock this one that we have to go through to get from the county road to the Creek Place.  Because we know the combination, we assume the lock is meant to keep somebody else out!


Yep, that old post really is that crooked.


Down on Muggins Creek at the Creek Place, Beau got out of the pickup to test the soundness of the meadows we had to drive over.  Because we’ve had so much moisture in the last couple years, meadows like this can still be soggy underneath the frozen surface, and we sure didn’t want to risk breaking through ice and getting stuck… in zero-degree weather… with four little kids… out of cell service.


Of course the kids just had to get out of the pickup to help Beau test the ice.


Except for Muggins.  He was asleep in my arms by then.


I realize now I should take a few moments to define the difference between Muggins Creek and the Creek Place.  Our son Muggins is named after Muggins Creek (pronounced crick around these parts, meaning stream or waterway), which was named for a pioneer named Muggins Taylor.

The Creek Place is named for the Creek family, with a long E sound in the middle — Joe Creek, his son Paul Creek, etc.  The Creeks were an old ranching family on this land; they sold out to Kroenke Ranches the same day the Grierson family did, in 2003.

So the Creek family used to ranch on Muggins Crick and we remember them by calling the land by their name.  Does that make sense?


Pioneers were on the banks of Muggins even before the Creeks showed up.  A couple old cabins were just calling out to be explored this snowy day, but the time and the weather weren’t favorable for such an adventure.  Not sure on the story behind the particular cabin pictured (I’ll have to ask my dad, who is a walking encyclopedia of the history of this ranch that has defined his life), but I do remember that a second cabin just down the creek was at one time inhabited by a fellow named Taps Eckert.



Anyhow, while I was sitting in the pickup and thinking on such matters, the cows could hear the toot of the pickup horn and they were headed in for cake.


They were, as always, glad to see the food truck arrive.





These poor old girls came in on the wrong side of the creek and were afraid to cross the ice to get to us:


Finally a brave one tiptoed across, and after that all but a few of them very carefully followed her tracks over the ice:


By now Asher had decided it was appropriate to warm his frozen feet by the heater vents.  Notice the temp on the pickup screen:  2°.  And that we were listening to the audio of Ralph Moody’s “Little Britches” over the radio!  The kids listen to that great story over and over, which means it was a good purchase from Audible, because I personally can only read aloud so much.  But I fondly remember the magic of hearing my third-grade teacher read the same book aloud in my classroom when I was little.


On to tomorrow!

© Tami Blake

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