The Circle C is a cattle ranch mostly (and horses), but here you can read about the ranch dogs, cats and other interesting animals that roam the ranch and the foothills. Also read fun snippets and stories by clicking the link. If you think I’m missing some animals, let me know about it in the comments.
I haven’t much to say about cows, bulls, and steers. Calves are cute, but I don’t jump for joy seeing a herd of 5,000 or more steers. We name very few cattle. The milk cows might have names. I once heard a dairy hand call them “One, Two, and Three” a couple of times.
A bull I do know by name is Prince Reginald, sire of most of the Circle C herd. He’s one of those rare “naturally hornless” (polled) shorthorns. He looks docile here, but he is not. I stay clear when I see Prince Reginald’s distinctive markings anywhere on the range. Reginald’s sons are good bulls too. Here is his most recent calf, whom Chad is raising to include as breeding stock. Chad is hoping he got his sire’s rare “polled” gene, but only time will tell. Most of our cattle have horns, but not those Texas longhorn types.
Reginald’s sons are good bulls too. Here is his most recent calf, whom Chad is raising to include as breeding stock. Chad is thrilled. The calf inherited this sire’s “polled” gene. Most of our cattle have horns, but not those Texas longhorn types. At first I named the calf “Calico,” but Chad told me that’s no name for a prize bull. So now I call him El Montana, which means “mountain” in Spanish. I think he’s going to grow up to be a mountain of a bull.
Cory and I found this bull calf on the ranch one hot spring afternoon. I named him Sweetie Pie and bottle fed him for several weeks. Chad was not enthusiastic about my plan to raise the little fellow but I persevered. It was way more work than I thought. To find out what became of Sweetie Pie, read the story >>
Later on, brother Mitch decided to raise some naturally polled cattle called “Angus.” They are pitch black with no spots (though there are red Angus around some places). (Courageous Love) Like all cattle, they seemed more trouble than they were worth.
Another Circle C bull is less deserving of my attention but I’ll mention him in passing. I’m sure he has a name (I think it’s San Diego). After all, he has fancy papers and throws very nice calves. While Prince Reginald is a pretty good bull, this fellow is ten times more aggressive and mean. The cowhands call him Diablo, which means “devil” in Spanish. I don’t call him anything. I stay away from him, just like I stay away from Reggie. But where Reginald might ignore me if I ignore him, Diablo goes out of his way to charge anybody who goes near him. I think this bull should be shot. Chad disagrees and reminds me to keep my distance.
Duke, Prince, and King are a lot of fun. They are especially useful when you are first learning how to lasso. They sit on command, with their tongues hanging out of their mouths, and let me practice tossing loops over their heads. These ranch dogs don’t chase chickens or scare the cats. They clean up messes too, like the time a dozen eggs broke all over me. Riley whistled for the dogs and they came and licked up the eggs and licked me too. Yuck! We all love our ranch dogs.
Tucker is Riley’s dog. He is one of a kind and smarter than all three of the Circle C ranch dogs combined. He is what folks in modern times call a border collie, but back in the 1800s they were just small collies. Tucker follows Riley everywhere. He’s friendly and seems to anticipate what you want. He knows when it’s time to go out and check fences or if Riley is off to work cattle or some other ranch-related job.
This dog saved my life and Lucy’s too. (Courageous Love) He followed our kidnappers and never gave up until he found me. I sent him back with a clue and although it took some time, Tucker brought Riley and the posse close to the outlaws’ hideout. Since Riley and I married, Tucker has been a great help. He tried to protect Riley when a cougar was going after him, and he’s good at recognizing when there’s a snake nearby. All in all, I would not trade Tucker for any other dog.
Everybody on the Circle C likes cats. They are working animals and highly sought after. Barn cats are worth their weight in gold. Without cats, mice and possibly rats would overrun the barns and eat the grain, costing the ranch hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars. Here are a couple of my favorite cats. Mouser is aptly named. She spends all of her time hunting. Her kittens are fat, and Mouser trains them well. Chad likes this cat best.
Licorice is black and white. I gave her to Sadie Hollister (Andi Saddles Up) because my friend looked so sad that she couldn’t catch any of her family’s cats. And no wonder! They are wild, feral things, who growl and scratch if anybody goes near them. But Licorice is friendly and a good mouser. I told Sadie that Licorice will curl up on her bed and sleep with her. How do I know this? I sometimes leave my balcony door open on a cool night and when I wake up in the morning, Licorice and some other cats are on my bed. If Mother knows, she does not say anything.
Cleopatra (Cleo) is my friend Brody’s cat, whom he loves with all his heart. This sneaky feline sits by the screen door, hoping someone will open it so she can sneak out. She’s gotten a taste of “the hunt” in Aunt Rebecca’s carriage house next door. One half is unused, dusty, and is the perfect place for mice to overrun the place. Cleo is a city cat, but she is not street smart. She is a house cat who eats only the finest tidbits cut into small pieces just for her. (Cook does not like this task at all!)
But Cleo would rather hunt her own dinner. Whenever Cleo sneaks out, she goes over the wall into Aunt Rebecca’s yard. Brody always goes after her, as he is afraid she might get run over by the cable car or other street traffic, or trampled underfoot by horses. Brody says she doesn’t know anything about dogs either, and he’s afraid a dog might kill her. I cannot understand this. Circle C cats live in the barn. They have an important job to do, she tells Brody. They keep mice out of the grain and hay, or the ranch would be overrun with these pests. Circle C cats are not afraid of dogs in the least. If Prince or Duke or King get too close to a cat, they get scratched noses. I help Brody keep track of Cleo, as the thought of being run over by a huge cable car makes me afraid for my friend’s city cat. (Andi Far from Home)
Henry the Eighth is a rooster who has lived much too long in my opinion. He’s always on the lookout to attack an unsuspecting person just walking by. For some reason, Henry never attacks Mother or the boys. Just Melinda and me. Miss Cluck is my favorite hen. She’s forever sitting on eggs, hatching out the most adorable chicks. I reckon Henry was an adorable chick at one time, but it’s hard to believe.
Pickles is a blue-bellied lizard. Cory gave him to me when I was upset about going to school and a little bit afraid. Pickles lived behind the wood cookstove for a couple of years. It’s warm there. I fed him flies and spiders and whatever else he could grab and eat. But then I felt sorry for him and let him go. Pickles is also called a “fence lizard” because they like to crawl up fence posts and sunbathe. This is a bad idea. Birds pick them off. You can see why he’s called a “blue bellied” lizard.
A king snake is Cory’s snake of choice. I’ve seen every version of this little fella from the time I started school. Baby king snakes are Cory’s usual welcome-back-to-school gift for me, found when I open my desk every year. I lose track of their names, but I think this one is Clyde. King snakes make good pets, and they keep the rattlesnakes away. I shall not present a rattlesnake here, as I prefer not to talk about those nasty creatures. And you have read enough about them in various stories. What happened to the king snake Cory gave me at the end of Dangerous Decision? Read the story >>
Tarantulas are common on the Circle C ranch. Not in the valley near the ranch house, but up in the foothills on the rangeland, especially in October. The male spiders come out of their holes once a year to look for a mate. They’re about ten years old. The females live in their holes for thirty years, coming out at night to hunt. I tried to make a tarantula a pet once. Read the story >>
Rattlesnakes, unfortunately, are also common in the foothills. Every time I’ve encountered one, my heart nearly races out of control. My friend Jenny Grant has no experience with rattlers so she was especially vulnerable on our trek into the Sierras. (Trouble with Treasure) This is the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. These crawl around all over the foothills, especially in the springtime. My Yokut friend Choo-nook was deathly afraid of snakes, maybe because her little brother was bitten one year and died.
A cougar is another animal that roams the Sierras near the Circle C ranch. I’ve run into cougars a couple of times in my life. Both times terrified me. The first time I was frantic thinking the cougar might kill the horses. They were in a corral outside a shack in the middle of nowhere. (Trouble with Treasure) I fired a few shots out the window, but the next morning I saw the cougar’s tracks. They were the size of tea saucers.
My second run-in with a cougar resulted in an orphan cub. I did not know at the time, but when I shot the cougar to save Riley’s life, it was a mama cougar. I nearly cried when I discovered the baby sniffing its mama and whimpering. Riley and I took Kitty home, and I gave him to Chad for Christmas. Somehow, though, I got Kitty back, which caused no end of trouble for not only Memory Creek ranch but for the neighbors too. (Yosemite at Last)
Dog is a Newfoundland breed, and yes, that is his name. I thought for sure he was a bear cub! That’s how big he was! It was raining and I was cold and scared. Cory was knocked out and lying in a gully with water streaming everywhere. That’s when this huge “bear” lumbered toward us. It looked like it had a cub with it. The bear cub ran up to me and started licking my face. I thought I would die right then and there, until I found out the big bear was a big man inside a bear skin, and the little bear was really a big dog. (Andi Dreams of Gold) Read the snippet >>