Look at this…
I’m still not up to par, so I have been demoted from working partner to unworking partner! Par…par-tner… ha! I made a little funny…very little. Anyway… While I was off at a doctor’s appointment yesterday, the guys had been fighting with our ram pump and gave in. You deserve a little history here. Our ram pump is an awesome machine developed a looong time ago but bought and installed in (I think) the 1940’s. At least I remember seeing papers on it stating other parts would be shipped but “due to the war effort” manufacturing was slow. I’m not sure we owned the Mesa pasture during World War I – so there is my logic. The Mesa, as it is referred to lies about 4 miles east of our home place and it is about 1000′ rise in elevation. It is not your typical “mesa” feature, but that’s the name it was given and so it remains “The Mesa”. The ram pump pumps water from the South Fork of Otter Creek Canyon up the side of the canyon to our pasture. The canyon is an impressive 500′ deep. The ram works off of water pressure – no electricity – no power other than the water itself. The company is still in business, but doesn’t sell this large of pump anymore. Look up Rife Ram pumps on the net if you’re interested in how it works. But when you have over 400 head of cattle with no water, plans have to change quickly. So that brings us back to yesterday. The guys decided to trail the cattle off, which we would have done in a week or two anyway. But the day was nice and they didn’t want to leave. The stupid cows wanted to stay, but wanted water and they brushed up and gave the guys *&*%*&*. We ended up about 40 head short. My un-job today was to haul the guys up in the horsetrailer, dump them out, and come home. I decided to share some scenery with you.
First of all, this is the expression you get when you’re left in the pickup and riders are chasing cows. That look was probably reflected on my face as well.
So here I am, up at the mesa looking at home. See that teeeeeny tiiiiiny little white speck in the center? Under the humongous cottonwoods? That’s the original ranch house… long abandoned… but very visible. The rimrock, infamous part of Rimrock English Shepherds, is behind the house. Does it look like it’s only 4 miles away??? There’s lots of ups and downs between here and there!
Oh look, there’s Vernon gathering some misfits. You are actually looking at the Mesa pasture itself… from this fence corner where we turn in clear to the shaded juniper covered slope. Actually the canyon is in between, hidden, and the junipers are across the canyon on another ranch. Comprende?
Now we’re getting closer. The red hills are gorgeous. The ranch sits right on the edge of the grey formation and the red dirt. The actual geological term for this iron rich soil is the Chugwater Formation. Chugwater besides being a Wyoming town and a brand of chili flavoring (made in Chugwater) is the term given to buttes like this one. I have heard the old story that as the Indians chased the buffalo off the cliff’s edge, they’d make a “chug” sound when they hit bottom. See the white ranch house, the white corral fence on our calving shed, and on the left – my white tipi!! Spiffy. Well, when it is full sized on my way-awesome-Mac-computer you can see all that. Just squint here and pretend.
The road from the Mesa to home heads south for a ways then turns back on itself until you turn off to our ranch. Driving in you come around the corner and…Aha! Peeking above the hill are those ever impressive cottonwoods.
Here we are. We made it. The house nestles in the falling leaves of the cottonwoods. The rimrock overlooks all. The dogs are panting in my ear. Thanks for keeping me company from the Mesa to home.
I’ve heard it many times. Heck, I used to believe it myself. How AWESOME your life must be… you live on a *RANCH*! Well, it is true MOST of the time… It is the small percentage of times when you are doing things like today, that most people wouldn’t enjoy. This is not Bonanza! (though I have lusted many times over that house the Cartwrights lived in!) Today we preg tested the cows we lease from our neighbors…along with their small bunch… about 90 head or so. It was chilly at first, so I slipped my winter hat over my cap. The rain began. It quickly changed to snow. I put my coveralls on. And my scarf. And my gloves. I should have changed into my Muck Boots. Three hours later I’m tired… with barely any energy output the 6000′ altitude is slowing me and my yucky lungs down. Snow has caked on my silk scarf and it is beginning to drip down my neck. My Arctic Carhartt coat keeps me warm, but I swear it weighs 30 pounds and my back and shoulders are tired. Usually I’d still be in good humor, the work load wasn’t bad, and I enjoy our vet’s banter… but enough was enough this day. Thank goodness we were about done! I help put out lunch, our neighbor has taken pity on me and my condition and cooked the whole meal. I promise I’ll do it all next year! The best place to eat is a horse trailer. So there we are, 8 snow encrusted cowboys standing in a horse trailer parked in the lee of an old cabin, eating the best pot roast and vegetables around! We sip hot chocolate and snag another cookie. We discuss the world and laugh at ourselves and shake our heads. A little bit more cowboying and we’re done. That’s when I finally drug my camera out to take this photo of Vernon. Gee. I just don’t remember them showing Little Joe out working in this kind of stuff. In fact, did Little Joe ever work??? I remember him in the house and barn and in town. I never saw Little Joe in Carhartts. I just realized…Bonanza mislead the American public! My vulnerable mind was shaped by Ben, Adam, Hoss, Joe, and even Candy… but I don’t remember Carhartts on the set. OK, so it is a minor point that in the 1800’s Carhartts weren’t even invented, but no one told me anything like this happened on ranches. I figured if you were cold and it was nasty outside… you could stay inside. Ha. Dang, was I like TOTALLY stupid?? Yes. I was. I’m not now!