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Since September we have been shipping cattle, yearling steers and heifers that were either sold over the video auction or are being sent to the local sale yard. If not working yearlings, we have been gathering up the cowherd. Most wander home on their own but there are always those that prefer to stay out. They are the valuable ones, but we have to locate them and give them a push home with horse and dog.
October and November were busy with cattle work. Sorting the cows, pulling the old or cull cows that didn’t raise a calf, had health problems or udder problems. NO pun intended. The cows get sorted into
age groups, and processed through the chute to take care of any health related problems; at the same time we immunize this years calves. There is more sorting, splitting the cows and calves to wean, all resulting in sore shoulders from chute work, muddy cold feet and wet gloves. All this is in preparation to hunker down for winter and feed hay every day.
Today though is a reprieve from the weather and the work. It is a beautiful clear warm winter day. To take advantage of the weather we went after a group of colts that were up country and needed to come home. We still have a horse permit which allows us to run a portion of our horses out on the BLM.
After the colts were run in to the Dry Creek corral, I decided to stay and wait while Steve and Sam hauled the saddle horses home and came back for the load of colts. After protests of “What if,” I convinced them I would not freeze to death or fall prey to a mountain lion. What they didn’t know is that I had a thermos of coffee and a few goodies packed with my camera and notebook. What a great day to be away and by my self, away from phone, computer, balance sheet, and cook stove.
The last few years have been pretty chaotic. Our son Nate was in Iraq for a year, shortly after his return to the states, my mother had a debilitating stroke and after a solid year of traveling through hospitals, rehab facilities and nursing homes our youngest son graduated from high school and we moved home to the ranch full time, selling the house in town. This was followed by another year with more time spent away from the ranch negotiating the labyrinth of the Medicare system and trying to make things as good as they could be.
It hasn’t been until this fall that I’ve felt a settling down and an awareness that the pace has slackened. Instead of a full-extended trot out in the morning because I know there won’t be enough daylight, it is beginning to feel more like a Western Pleasure shuffle, slow, head down, the sl-o-o-o-w trot.
My husband Steve has been generous and intuitive about this. After summer cooking, he took over preparing breakfast at the cookhouse. Steve, Sam our son, and Dan, one of the ranch hands, take turns with the cooking. This seems like quite a miracle and how liberating for them, or so I encourage.
So today is a good day to be out by myself enjoying my coffee, camped under the loading chute in the December sun. I do hope they come back for me; it will be getting cold here in awhile at this altitude. Oh, they wouldn’t leave the horses without hay and water and only a snow-drunk fence leaning at a compromising angle to keep them corraled.
In this land of plenty and privledge I've pledged to help Heifer International plant the seeds of peace. I chose a high goal by choosing to dedicate my efforts to project WiLD. WiLD recognizes that women make up 70% of the world's poor, produce 80% of the developing world's food yet own less than 1% of the earth's land.
Heifer International's project WiLD understands that rural women are often overlooked by government programs and educational opportunities and face a cycle of poverty, hunger and despair. In a world where many women feel powerless we rural and urban alike have the power through a simple gift to change the lives of others. By focusing on women we help struggling families and communities.
Please join me this holiday season and together we can make a difference in the lives of families around the globe.
Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt
Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.