Kevin, home from the Army; Pat ;& Chris, the groom
photo by Todd Skalberg
It has been one of those summers. Sometimes I think it went by in a flash. It does seem like I was just watching the leaves unfurl that palest of pale greens which washes us for a week before sliding into the deep greens of summer. Yet when I think back to the spring and early summer work—gathering and branding the calves, trailing and trailing and trailing until the ewes and lambs were settled on the lambing grounds, organizing the docking crew—then spending hours and days docking the newborn lambs, it seems a lifetime ago. Was it only two and a half months past that we were following the cows and calves, the ewes and lambs, to their forest permits, everyone happy to find fresh feed with the anticipation of months to go?
Major life events happened this summer. My first grandson, Seamus, was born. My second-born, beautiful Bridget, was wed on a lovely September day to her sweetheart Chris. My sister, Charlotte, my only surviving sibling, lies in a coma in a Rio de Janeiro hospital as my family and I try to keep watch from afar. It jumbles together.
Fall is here, well and truly. We struggled to keep flowers alive all summer, in preparation for the wedding. My mother’s green thumb did not come down to me, nor to my daughter Meghan either. For a while my best plan for the yard was to resurrect my long-dead, but truly gifted gardener, Aunt Helen. It seemed more likely than trying to grow something myself. The night before the wedding brought the season’s first frost, and me running around like a crazy woman covering things with sheets. Never mind that I might need them for the steadily arriving wedding guests. The flowers, and me, were saved by the ministrations of my sister-in-law, Lynne, who came with plants, skill and a good eye.
Today, following an over the mountains trip to Laramie, we had snow on Battle Pass, our nearest reach to the Continental Divide, and the boundary of one of our grazing permits. We delivered a horse and his dog to my son at the University of Wyoming, and brought back two purebred rams we had purchased at the Wyoming Ram Sale. My vital 90-year-old mother-in-law was a good sport about climbing into the one ton pickup to make the trip. She always carries tales of Wyoming ranch life when she returns to her home in Florida. She came for the wedding, but we are trying to keep her around until most of the hurricanes have passed.
We are facing a ton of fall work, without much of our good crew. My son has returned to his studies, after taking last semester off. We are glad to see him in school, but miss the good help. Our nephew Kevin worked for us for much of the last year, leaving last spring. With a master’s degree in hand, he opted to work on the ranch, then joined the Army. My hopes that he would become a translator were dashed when he opted for Ranger training. He said that boot camp was really nothing after almost a year with us! His unexpected appearance at Bridget’s wedding was a treat for us all.
In the next two weeks, Pat has been invited to address a Congressional committee about produced water, a “by-product” of the ubiquitous coalbed methane wells which are coming soon to a rural community near us. I may depart for Brazil to see my sister. And we are poised to trail everyone off the forest and seek fall feed in this drought.
I am trying to figure out how to set up links. So you'll know (in the meantime) the Fall issue of Range magazine has an article by Tim Findley featuring our ranching operation, and an article I wrote about the horse slaughter issue. I also have an article in a recent High Country News regarding our experience with the Rainbow Family. The newest issue has a letter criticizing my essay, so at least people are reading it. I hope you take a look at these at www.rangemagazine.com and www.hcn.org until I get the links up! And another season is here!
Pat & Sharon, all dressed up!
Photo by Pat Russell
Photo by Pat Russell