A Good Day

The crisp morning crept slowly out of the darkness.  Sparkling glitter cast by Jack Frost caught the tepid rays of the early morning sun except for the creekbottom.  It would be almost another hour before rays would reach the low lying areas where I rode my horse.  Digital numbers had declared 14 degrees before I had left the warmth of my bed and house and the hoarfrost on my dogs’ chests echoed the truth of the thermometer.  It didn’t make it easier knowing the exact numbers, but it helped confirm the number of clothing layers I would need to suffer through the first few hours of the day.  I had on three and a half.  Undershirt, long sleeved t, denim shirt, and Carhartt coat.  Long johns, jeans, and leather chinks.  I had grunted my way onto the top of Panama, disgruntled as he was with his cold bit and forcefully pried from his breakfast hay.  I had warmed the bit the best I could, holding it in my bare hands and breathing onto it.  It would have to do.  Now we headed north, Panama and I, Winchester and Vernon, Kate and Johnny.  The dogs trotted happily alongside, thrilled at the coming prospect of gathering the heifers.  Lucas and Elsa had been left behind.  Poor, poor, pitiful subjects.  If it was within their capabilities, they’d routinely turn me in for animal abuse.  But five dogs on a mile long gather rank high on the Disaster Scale (aka, Are You Flippin’ Insane? Scale)  Sam was with Johnny.  Boomer, as usual, pretended to be with Vernon, but followed Dally and I instead.  Whitetail deer, still slightly nervous from hunting season, blew out of the brush, tails high and bright and on the run.  Pheasants flew from cover as well, Panama cocking an ear towards them, then ignoring their flight.  We split three directions, Johnny across the creek covered by paper thin ice, Vernon through the heavy brush, me up the hill to the fenceline.  Chugging up the rocky slope, Panama’s breath disappeared as the sunshine on the top of the hill warmed the air.  Bark!  Bark!  I frowned.  That wasn’t a coyote bark, I swear.  It sounded like a dog bark.  I scanned the lower countryside looking for a neighbor moving cattle, a pickup on the highway, or lost dogs chasing our calves in the lower pastures.  I saw none of these, but the barking continued.  I whistled.  Silence.  I whistled again.  Looking closely at the open fields, sagebrush hills, and juniper slopes, I strained to see the culprits.  Nothing appeared.  It must have been coyotes, but a drive down later to check it out was put on the “To-Do List”.  Reining Panama around, I sent Dally after five heifers on the hillside.  She darted out, swung low and wide and came up on the left one.  She heeled her low and quiet and I smiled.  It might be a cold day, but if she kept working like that, it’d sure be a good day.

Sorry, no OOPE photos today…  but, of course, I do have…
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PUPPY PHOTO OF THE DAY – Soggy Sadie
SoggySadie

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