The other day, love was in the barbed wire fence leading to the calves who were weaned just this fall.
Finding the love and beauty that surrounds us, isn’t that what life is about? There are barbs along the way but mostly it’s threads that are intertwined to create strong ties and lasting relationships.
I hope you enjoy it today and everyday! Happy Valentine’s Day.
Much like the rule about white shoes, Cowboys around here have a rule about straw hats: Straw hats between Memorial Day and Labor Day only.
This is Cody in his work wear the week before Memorial Day.
My understanding is that this is mostly true in Cowboy Culture, or should I say Cowboy Couture. When it comes to his hat, my cowboy is fashion conscious, even if it means toughing out a few hot days in late May until Memorial Day arrives.
This is Cody in his work wear on Memorial Day.
Now, when I met him in 1995, he was mixing and matching black shoes and a brown belt… it was nearly a deal breaker for my fashion taste. But, I was able to overlook the belt and shoe problem since this view was so much better.
Last week, I introduced you to Andre the Giant, the biggest calf on the ranch. This week, meet Tiny, the smallest calf on the ranch.
Tiny is so cute and super sweet. Luckily, she has a momma who loves her (and a cowboy, too, by the looks of it!). But, momma is a first calf heifer who doesn’t seem to be producing quite enough milk, even for this little one. In that case, we are keeping her close by to supplement feedings.
She is happy for the extra meals. Although, she’d rather have the real deal from her momma. Who can blame her? Mother’s milk is called ”liquid gold” for a reason.
In the age of technology, ranching has become more efficient. There are still things that are done the traditional way but with cell phones, trucks and trailers things can be done a bit faster and with more communication.
This week, the guys moved a set of yearlings about 13 mountainous miles to their summer pasture. They drove them horseback, begining at first light. This photo is not from this particular drive but the beauty of the early morning was quite like this:
Fifty years ago, the guys would’ve driven the yearlings, then they would’ve made the ride back home. They probably would’ve packed a sandwich and hopefully would’ve made it home by late-afternoon, assuming everything went as planned.
These days, we can meet the guys with a truck and trailer at the end point. They are home in time for lunch, the horses are spared the trip home on foot and one more project (or two or five or more) can be completed before dark.
He’s short-legged and looks like a Corgy but he’s not.
Otto is half Jack Russell and half sneaky cow dog. He’s not technically “old” at 11 years of age. Although, he’s showing signs of slowing down. He has trouble moving cattle more than a couple of miles–it takes him a few days to recover from a long drive, if we allow him to go.
If he doesn’t get a little bit of work time in, he will follow me around barking non-stop and staring me down out of boredom.
This is Otto's mad face.
Yesterday, the guys were moving a group of cows about eight miles to another pasture. Otto knew he was being left out. He barked and stared until we loaded up and met the guys with only a short distance left to go.
Otto is watching the cows from the car window.
It was heaven!
Otto running from the car to the cows.
Otto barking and following the cows.
Needless to say, when it was all said and done, he climbed up on his ottoman and slept through the evening and night–I even caught him dreaming of the next great ankle-biting chase a few times!
March has been pretty nice as far as the weather goes. Light jackets, afternoon walks and birds chirping. It’s the best possible way for the calves to come into the world.
Then, today, snow–the first day of Spring, no less. Typical.
The Farmer’s Almanac discusses the truth behind the month of March and its lion and lamb attitude. The Almanac says it’s probably just an observation by those who have come before us, merely a cute rhyme and nothing to bet the ranch on.
But, here in Northeast New Mexico, my father-in-law’s obervation that March comes in like a lamb and out like a lion typically holds true.
Between the weather and travel I haven’t been back to the nursery to snap any photos of new babies.
I finally made time today! Several babies are already on the ground. All but one have been moved out of the nursery to the pasture.
First calf heifers are often wild–they run around, kick and snort to protect their baby. This momma was no different; I can’t say I was much different with my babe so I guess I can’t blame her! This shot is the best I could do today!
I wish I could’ve captured a photo of his entire face, he has a perfect mask.
The cows will be calving soon. We’ll have a little better luck with photos then!
I was looking through the photos I’ve taken over the years at the ranch.
So many, while not the subject of the photos, feature Capulin Volcano, the most perfectly shaped cinder cone volcano in the world and the backdrop of my life.
This double H brace has a big job.
It’s the anchor that holds this fence in place.
It goes as far as the eye can see.
Check out other Friday Fences.
I’m a city kid. I don’t always know the cowboy way or the “Code of the West“. I have asked many questions over the years that, in mixed company, may not have gotten a straight answer.
One particular question especially brings some ranch-folk to the edge of their patience: “How many acres do you have?”. City-folk are unaware of the question they are asking of a rancher. To a rancher, what they are really asking is, “how much are you worth?” or “how much money is in your bank account?”.
Minnesota Prairie Roots author, Audrey Helbling, and I have been discussing the code via email. She tells me her experience is much different among midwest farmers. In fact, it seems to be a badge of some kind to announce the size of their spread.
To me–a city kid–that question was really just asking in order to understand the vastness of a ranch. Growing up in a house, on a lot versus many acres without a neighbor for miles is hardly comprehensible, this question just seems to give a frame of reference.
But, alas, it is the code of the west to never ask a man the size of his spread.
A must read by Gladiola Montana!