Friday, May 26, 2017

Following the Roads Across the Range

90% of the time I head out on the range to brand, I drive out myself after the crew of cowboys has left.  I don't believe in waking babies if I can help it.  Well rested babies are happy babies and happy babies make for happy mommas.  And everyone knows that if momma aint happy, nobody is happy.  So to make this momma happy, we go branding but AFTER the babies wake up.  You get it...

But as I was saying, I get the privilege of finding my way all on my own.  I get to follow the over simplified yet confusing directions to try and find hundreds of cows corralled in the some remote area of the range.  I'm actually getting pretty good at finding my way around, but that is only from trial and error from the last few years. 

Sometimes I think that my husband forgets that my knowledge of the area (read hundreds of miles and thousands of acres) isn't the same as his.  He tells me directions that would be totally relevant to someone that has lived here for decades and knows everyone.  Like when he tells me to turn left at the Taylor Lane.  Of course there is no road officially named Taylor Lane but there is a road that Charlie Taylor has property along so of course, that is Taylor Lane.  Too bad I didn't know that.  Fortunately, The Rancher told me that across from the road are several, very large hay sheds.  Unfortunately, there are hay sheds all along the road like that.  I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I swear that some of the roads that I get to drive across the range aren't "roads" at all but are more like goat trails.  They are rough and bumpy and winding and seem to take you nowhere.  Eventually you see the cloud of dust from the cows after you have bruised your sacrum from bouncing along the goat trail and you let out a partial sigh of relief.  I say only partial because you still have to finish driving the nearly debilitating road to get where you are going and if you breathe too deeply, you feel it in your sacrum... 

If the roads aren't yucky and bumpy, they are probably washed out with craters that are waiting to take out the underside of your truck.  Or they are slick and muddy with a special kind of gooey stickiness that has the potential of stopping you in your tracks.  I once was explicitly following The Rancher's instructions that nearly stranded me in the middle of the range's biggest mud pit.  He had forgotten that there was a small road that followed the fence line before his road that followed the fence so when he said take the first road to the right just after the fence it got me into big trouble.  My "road just after the fence" was a small road that took me to the end of a bunch of wheel lines and was subsequently a nightmare to drive down. 

You are probably laughing at me and thinking, why didn't I recognize that I was heading down the wrong road?  Here is my defense- the road was good when I got started, much better than many of the roads I had driven on before.  And secondly, I could see the cows and they were absolutely, straight ahead of me.  It was nearly infuriating how I knew it was going badly but I could see where I needed to be.  But by good luck and my rancher's wife skills, I made it alive.  Barely...

Despite the roads criss-crossing the range, they all take me where I want to go.  And there is probably a lesson to be learned in there.  In life, we all have a destination in mind and the road to where we want to go isn't always easy.  It can be frustrating how slow and painful and painfully slow the going may be, but there is so much to learn along the way.  And if we don't learn anything along the way, at least we got a great laugh at how terrible things can get! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pausing for Perspective

I love my life.  I really do.  Its amazing how much joy and satisfaction I find in what we do.  I get to watch my kids learn and grow and fail and succeed.  They get to watch their dad work and see what it means to have responsibilities and carry them out.  It is exhausting and amazing and inspiring...  and exhausting.

I love our life but it is exhausting.  Most of the time when life gets busy and exhausting, you pause, give yourself some space, do something new to recharge yourself, and then jump back in.

We don't do that. 

Not that we don't believe it taking a break, but its kinda difficult.  With cows, irrigating, haying, feeding, checking water, and all the other things on the never ending check list, we don't have the time to just up and leave.  Not to mention the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere and going anywhere requires plenty of travel time. 

But that's ok.

We may to be able to be world travelers or we might not have the opportunities to visit exotic places.  Its all ok, because we have an entire world to explore in our back yard.  We have horses and 4wheelers and mountains and trails.  We really have everything we need.

What we do, everyday, is what we love.  Yes, we get tired of the daily grind, but that is when we load up in the gator and go for a ride.  And we take a moment to refocus on what our priorities are and then we get back to it. 

I'm in desperate need for such a pause.  I am feeling the weight of the work that needs to be done on our home, for our community, in the fields...  There is always more work to be done than there is time and energy.  Think I can talk The Rancher into taking me on a romantic motorcycle ride tonight? 

Monday, May 8, 2017

For the Love of Branding

I have literally thousands of pictures of branding this spring.  THOUSANDS!  5 different days of branding and taking so many pictures of busy cowboys (I might have less if they stopped and posed, but I take what I can get...) has made for so many photos to go through and edit. 

I'm certainly not running out of photos, but I feel like I am running out of rocking stories to tell you.  Its not that cool things didn't happen, but I'm just afraid that those details of the day might bore you.  Especially since we do about the same thing every year- we gather the herd, sort out the cows, brand the calves, eat lunch and start over. 

It really is an exciting day that the crew looks forward to every year.  I'd say its their drug of choice that they are going through some seriously withdrawals of roping and riding after a long winter.  They take off across the range, adrenaline flowing, and they can't get enough of it.  They rope all day long until they are so sore they can't keep going.  Then they wake up and do it again.     

The photos are going to keep coming and hopefully the stories come too!  But sometimes, the photos speak for themselves.  As they say, "A photo is worth a thousand words!"