Every morning I manage to crawl from bed…morning person I am not…and thankfully I have a husband that can cook breakfast! Pancakes and coffee kick me out the door and we begin winter chores. I feed my puppy and throw a little extra to the big dogs, to keep them warm in the cold and to keep them from stealing Dally’s food as well. We hike a stone’s throw to the corral out behind my house, and haul grain to the heifer calves. Poured into bunks, the ground grain is increased a smidge a day, to help these little girls grow and hopefully start to cycle in good time. We have grained the steer calves in years before as well, unfortunately, our grain crop was poor this year. However, it does save us steps and time. We then puff across the field, OK, *I* puff across the field and Vernon heads for the tractor, the dogs and I head for the hay trailer. I then watch as Vernon expertly loads the trailer with 4 big bales and pulls up to hitch up to the trailer…my job is to drop the pin in to connect the two…and we’re off! Then follows a pattern. Stop, cut and pull strings, pitch hay, go to next haystack, load hay, stop, cut and pull strings, pitch hay, go to next haystack, load hay, stop, cut and pull strings, pitch hay. OOPS. Forgot about chopping the ice off the creek so the cattle can reach the live water. It takes us 3 hours or so every day to do this. Doesn’t matter how cold it is or how snowy or how I would SO much prefer to wrap in a cozy blanket, drink a few more cups of coffee, and read for a bit! Every morning I would prefer to not have to dress in coveralls and heavy Carhartt coat and boots. Every morning I would love more coffee. Every morning I would love more sleep. Every morning I see a different colored sky. Every morning the brisk fresh air wakes me up. Every morning my dogs make me smile, chasing bunnies, begging for love, noticing the wildlife, keeping me warm. Every morning I’m part of the cooperative that makes this ranch work. Every morning I can watch deer or spy a fox or coyote or see an eagle on the rimrock. Every morning I have a chance to take a photograph someone might like. Every morning I see a world that is part of me. Every morning I am blessed.
Saw two coyotes head over the rimrock this morning, unhurried, curious, yet wise enough to leave the territory.
Dally must be locked up the past few mornings, or she follows us, eager to learn and I am unable to watch her carefully around the hay trailer, yearlings, and soon-to-be momma cows. She must learn to remain at home as well, and I hope that some good comes of kennel training.
I have been leaving either Elsa or Lucas home with her…they are put out, but I actually can “top off” these dogs when I have them one on one.
Cows are much like people. Some are content with the first flake of hay that comes their way, and stand and patiently munch away. Others follow for a while, nudging each proffered flake until they settle on one. Some cows share larger flakes, others are pushy and demand single ownership. Other cows continue to follow the hay trailer ever seeking something better…greener, softer, grassier, alfalfa-ier, weedless, thistle-less, moister, drier… Some are never content until forced to become that way. Their choices all exhausted, they return to formerly visited piles, and force less lucky cows off of their final choice. Some take bites of one pile, and amble to the next, and the next, and often bucking their way to another flake, enjoy it all. Are they not like people???
Elsa minds tremendously better when a long line is attached… is she not like people??? If I knew someone could give me an immediate swift jerk when I do wrong, I would rarely risk any unruly behavior either!
When cows have crisp white snow blankets on their backs, often you can tell how little they have moved overnight because the blankets don’t have those “earthquake cracks” created by movement. But they rarely shake themselves as horses and dogs do…why?
The squeaking of snow increases as the temperature decreases. Anyone ready for spring yet?
The zillion stars overhead tempt me much more in winter…the lights are brighter, the skies clearer… and I look… and head inside to warm up!
I glimpse my buddy in my rearview mirror.. he keeps an eye on me, guarding, watching, listening, and smelling for the Dangerous Unknown. His job is serious and he can’t wait until he can brush his big head against my hand, waiting for a reassuring touch that says “all is well”. He’s a Good Dog.
Today Lucas and I finally got a chance to be something else besides stockdog and owner. We became a Therapy Dog Team at Ten Sleep School. I have worked towards this day for over a year. We began when Lucas was a puppy and not yet old enough to be registered as a Therapy Dog. We were practicing with full understanding and cooperation of Ten Sleep School, teachers, parents, and children. Unfortunately, someone had to bring a lawyer into the mix, and we were banned from school until we became fully registered. We then had to wait for Lucas to turn one year old. We had to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. Lucas had to be proven disease free with all the tests and costs of those tests. We had to have 3 letters of recommendation written for us. We finally had to join Therapy Dogs, Inc. of Cheyenne, Wyoming. And today, yes, today! we entered the school, Lucas wearing his blue vest, and visited children! We are listening to children read out loud. Lucas lies quietly, the kids pet him, their blood pressure and stress levels drop, and soon, the words are flowing out to Lucas’ unjudgmental ears. We will go every Tuesday. Every Tuesday we’ll have a different calling… a chance to help some children learn to enjoy reading.
For those of you interested in coyotes, those whispers of grey, my friend has an amazing blogspot. Please visit http://dailycoyote.blogspot.com, you will be amazed.