Bees Are Important for the Open Range Too!

Most folks have heard about colony collapse and bees.  I had read about how this was going to impact our crops.   Everything popped into my mind from berries to nuts and everything in between.   Never though did I think about grass, pastures and rangeland needing bees until I took this job.   I have seen hundreds, maybe even a few thousand bee hives out on on the open range.  Bees impact more than I had imagined in agriculture and our lives.

One of the many bee hives out there on the open range.

One of the many bee hives out there on the open range.

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Barbed Wire – Ouch

This was not the fence I got hung up or tried to hop.   This is a favorite fence picture taken earlier in the year.  Notice how green it is!

This was not the fence I got hung up or tried to hop. This is a favorite fence picture taken earlier in the year. Notice how green it is!

I spend a time each weekend mending clothes that get caught up on barbed wire.   The young tall fellas that do this job almost literally “hop” the fence.   I on the other hand go through the fence most of the time.   I am pretty quick at if I pick the spot right.   I generally try to pick a fence with only three wires and there are obviously places where the wire is not real tight.   If I can find this I slip between the top and second wire and am quickly on the other side at work doing my grasshopper survey.   Occasionally fences are five wires and have stabilizers that are between poles to keep the wire tight and the standard equal distant apart.   When that happens, I may look for a gate, cattle guard opening, or the possibility of going over the fence.

I had this happen recently.   I was running out of places to do a grasshopper survey in that township/range and the fence for the survey had seven strands with a stabilizer wire.   It looked like I could slip under the gate closure and get into the pasture as the easiest point of entry.   It really looked like no big deal.   Silly me.   I held some barbed wire that had been wound back onto itself while I moved under it at the gate closure.   As I released it the tension of the wire snapped back and some rusty old barbed wire caught my thumb.   I was bleeding like a stuck pig.   I looked at the barbed wire, and it was definitely rusty old barbed wire.   I headed back to my truck and took out my first aid kit and cleaned it up and bandaged it.   It kept on bleeding relentlessly.   I knew that this was more than a scratch and I needed to file a first report of injury and get a tetanus shot.

I was lucky in that the little town I was in had a medical provider.   That cannot be said of many places in Montana, many places have limited access to medical are.    I got in and back out on the road in an hour. Thumb cleaned up and taken care and a new tetanus shot.  I was anticipating a sore arm from the tetanus I had heard so much about.   No such problem.

I now find myself taking a few extra minutes to use leather gloves when handling barbed wire.   No matter how easy or simple it looks to get to the other side of the fence things can easily go wrong.   I was lucky it was only what it was but I don’t want to test luck too many times.

Shade – Sweet Shade

There is lots of open range in Montana and most of that can be pretty treeless.   I have ate many lunches sitting in the shade cast by my truck.   On those days I am thankful for it.    I got lucky last week  that about lunch time I was traveling down a road that crossed a small creek and it had a few cottonwoods.  I backed into a two track lane and ate my lunch in the shade of the cottonwood tree.   It was  cool with a gentle breeze.   Sweet shade for sure.

One of the sweetest lunch spots of the year.

One of the sweetest lunch spots of the year.