So Much to Tell

It has been forever…and there is so much to tell.

I guess I can start with some of the latest news and work backwards.

It has rained and rained and rained and rained and snowed and snowed and rained here… We’ve had 2 weeks of wet weather, but the last four days have been phenomenal.  It is Memorial Day weekend, the first popular camping weekend around here, but most campsites are flooded, or mudded in, or still deep in snow.  Our creek is overflowing and flooding various points scattered throughout the ranch, but nothing of real importance.  Sites in many towns are flooded though… remember that when you build your dream home ten feet from the creek bank!  I have never seen the Nowood flood so much… or Crazy Woman Creek.  I wish I’d taken a photo of that, but I was a little preoccupied at the time.  That’s the story of Crossing the Big Horn Mountains in a Blizzard on May 22.  For a country that averages 12-14 inches per year in moisture…we have almost 2 inches in the past four days.  It is green, but soggy!

Horses

So much of what we do on the ranch has changed radically from a few years back.  Where 3 or 4 families could live and be supported on this place when it began, the ranch supports now supports two.  Where the work in the fields were done by teams of horses, large blue tractors have taken their place.  Where large strong men once worked as crews traveling around putting up grain, the job is done by two guys and some good equipment.

But some things have remained the same, the need for good horses is one.  Horses out here are indispensable.  This country is rough.  Steep shaley hillsides.  Deep cutbanks.  Bentonite covered areas made slick with a smidge of rainfall.  Horse-sucking bogs that surprise you along the sides of creeks and springs.  Distances that force emergency response, if lucky, to an hour.  This is no place to have horse problems.  Getting bucked off and hurt means serious problems.

The horses you ride have to be trustworthy and solid.  A pheasant underfoot or a bull on the fight or an odd shaped white rock must be accepted by your horse.  When we find a good horse, they are a treasure.  What else could you call a creature you entrust your child’s life to?  Unfortunately, good horses seem to get old fast, and of all of our horses, 3/4 of them are old.  So we’ve kept our eyes open…hoping to find a good one somewhere…

Well, Saturday in Cody was their Wild West Days with its Top Notch Horse Sale.  (www.codywildwestdays.com)  We rose early and drove the 2 hours to Cody to preview the horses before the auction.  Since the weather had done nothing but snow or rain, Vernon’s farming was on hold, and he could leave.  Our number one choice was soon eliminated… cold-backed when first saddled, this gelding was rejected because he might buck easily.  This one was similar.  That one was too tall.  Too young.  Too old.  Too flashy.  (Hey, I like flash too, but we figured the price would be too high on those with “chrome”)  Finally we find a red roan mare… too much flash???  She’s gentle and has a good handle.  Short.  A little pudgy.

The auction comes too soon, I haven’t found all the horses I wanted to look at… and the horses go through the ring.  There were a few we were impressed by, how’d we miss those at the preview???  Then comes our little roany friend… we bid, and bid, and bid, and finally quit.  We don’t get her.  Now what?  Do we go home empty handed or take a risk on a horse we haven’t investigated as well?  Here comes Winchester.  He was on my short list.  Called gentle.  Looks tall though…  Well built.  Shiny.  Guaranteed to do any ranch job.  Do we bid?  We better.  And we do.  And we get him.  So Winchester has joined the rest of the horses on Greet Ranch.

Dang, he’s taller than I remembered.  Dang, he’s powerful.  Dang, he’s a goer.  Ummm… maybe the boys should ride this horse and I’ll look for another.  We’re still investigating each other.  Will he fit in???  We’ll know in a few weeks…  But he sure is pretty!  Here’s his photo from the horse sale… I’ll take my own photos soon.

Photo of “Cuteness”

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an entry about “Cuteness”.  Lucas and I attended school for the last time this spring, and once again, we had the pleasure of listening to kindergartners read.  This time the weather was cooperative and we managed to be outside among the shade of playground equipment.  “Cuteness” was her usual self, having to share the artwork with Lucas…so I had to share her pictures with you!  Here she is.

And again…

But best of all…

 

Spring days

The days are mixed…glorious sunshine, pouring rain, lost flakes of snow drifting down, rising creek level, unfurling stems of Indian paintbrush, hard work, relaxing walks, dogs chasing rock chucks, picking rocks from the field, cleaning house, watching my lawn grow ignoring my broken lawnmower, welcoming home children from school.  Every few hours the plan changes.  Today was normal feeding, then freedom for me, then lunch, then horseback moving the bulls to pasture, then taking down the electric fence next to the flooding creek, supper, dishes, and a new haircut for a long-haired college son.  Some things don’t change.  The love of my dogs for me and walks and work.  Spring days make you appreciate things that change in moments, and things that are the same.  And those that are almost identical!!  Elsa and Dally echo each other in a recent walk…

Mountain trip

Just a couple more notes about our drive up the mountain…
1.  Taking those wildflower photos was a challenge.  Yes, the snow was gone and the soil was warm, but it seems like whenever I sit down (or lay down ) I am surrounded by my English Shadows… and they don’t lay behind me, they lay in front of me…the photos of the yellowbells are taken over the top of Elsa as she refuses to move once she has positioned herself.  I grew frustrated at one point, Elsa in front of me, Dally to my right, and Lucas came up and layed down the length of my body, heavily panting from his last rabbit chase.  I told him if all my pictures of shooting stars were blurry it would be his fault!  And then I began to giggle.  If only Vernon had had a camera, I’m sure I’d have made quite a picture myself… laying on the hillside with my 3 loyal assistants.

2.  I didn’t take any photos of one of my favorite flowers…spring beauties.  They are found next to retreating snowbanks and thus I would have had to prostrate myself in a muddy or snowy situation… and though I’m in work clothes and don’t look my best, laying in mud is still beyond what I am willing to do.

3.  We had all the dogs with us, and had to take pictures… so here we are in all our “I’m not really dressed for this” glory.  Vernon gathers Boomer to him and holds him still…an unusual position for Boomer.  I’ve got my English Shepherds with me.  Lucas being his confident self… Dally checking out the world… and Elsa doing the ES Lean into me…