Bottle calves

Last summer my little cowgirl took on her first herd–a handful of bottle calves.  They were orphans or sickly little things when they came to the corral at the house. girl and calf The little cowgirl spent hours with the calves and named all of them after gemstones–Sapphire, Onyx, Ruby, Pearl, Agate.

bottle calves

Eventually most ended up with nicknames–Sapphy, Big Boy (Onyx was the biggest in the group and never took to a bottle),  Pitiful Pearl (she was blind and had a tongue that didn’t work properly), Aggie.

The little cowgirl fed them morning and night and spent the hours between gentling them to the point they would come running at the slightest sound of the gate squeaking open.

MFR sapph bottle

She participated in 4H this year as a Clover Bud which meant she couldn’t officially show an animal at the fair but she could participate in the bucket calf show, an event for Clover Buds who are learning the livestock show ropes.  Sapphire turned out to be her guy!

MFR sapph at fair

Everyone is a winner in the bucket calf show.  And, while cute may not win the steer show in a couple years, he won with me this year–a perfect gentleman in the show ring!

Over the summer, the calves grew, were allowed out in the pasture at the house.  They learned to follow their two-legged leader back to the corral for dinner with little more than a call of, “Sapphy, Saaaaapphy, Saaaaapphyyyyyyyyy.”

MFR herd in pasture

By late fall, the herd was big enough and healthy enough to go to their winter pasture.  The little cowgirl shed a few tears for her babies.  But, she goes for a visit, just a couple pastures over, as often as she can.  They still come to her call, eat out of her hand and expect their usual scratches between the  ears. But, now they are taller and stronger.  The hard part is going to be explaining the day when her first herd is loaded on the truck.  She may be taller and stronger, too, but this is going to be an emotional one.

MFR sapph grown up

Presidents, horses and shoes

My view this morning from the kitchen window!

Nearly every president has been at least photographed on a horse.  Many were horsemen, others not so much.  I love this photo of Teddy Roosevelt:

Theodore Roosevelt on his horse. Photo courtesy http://www.democraticunderground.com

See other horses with their president here.

My friend, Kim, worked in the George H.W. Bush White House.  She recently sent this article to me about his White House horseshoe pit.

Our horses may not be presidential but we have plenty of horseshoes for the pit.

Happy Presidents’ Day!  (Just in case you were wondering about the day’s significance, read about it here.)

Saddle up

To the untrained eye, it looks like a cowboy is getting ready to ride.  Well, that’s true.  Cody is getting ready to move cattle in this photo.

But, nothing about how a cowboy prepares to ride is left to chance.  From the bit he chooses for today’s work to the direction his rope honda faces when tied to the saddle or how tight he pulls his cinch, it’s all a carefully organized process.

Each cowboy is different and has his own way to saddle up.

Owl and Chihuahua

We’ve had an owl pair living in the hayloft of the barn for years.  I have tried and failed to photograph them many times as they are a bit shy.  Lately, I’ve seen only one hanging out.  Since they don’t seem to nest in the barn, perhaps the female is keeping her eggs warm somewhere else.

Yesterday afternoon turned out to be quite nice so I ventured out to annoy the owl by climbing into the hayloft to check his where abouts.

When I spotted him, I quietly snuck around the barn and caught him at the broken window just before he swooped across to a hiding spot on the rocks.

I then annoyed him enough that he flew to the tree.  I followed him.

He finally flew back to the barn.  I decided I better give the guy a break.

He appears to be a Great Horned Owl.  If so, my trusty Birds of New Mexico Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela, says they are found all over New Mexico and they lay eggs in January and February.  I guess there should be two little ones in the next month or so.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled and my chihuahua close to home.

Never ask a man the size of his spread

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!

White gate

After many years of trying, I have learned the names of most of the pastures and where they are located on the ranch.  (I don’t really need to know this information for anything more than reference–remember, I am mostly third or fourth string help around here.)

I think it has taken so long because of the interesting names that go along with some of the pastures.

The South Pasture is not south of the house, it’s actually north but when the house was much further north this particular pasture would have been south of the house–the name stuck.

The South Rocks Pasture is, indeed, south.  However, it should not be confused with the South Pasture or the pasture we call The Rocks.

The one name that may be most confusing to those not closely acquainted with the Morrow Ranch is the gate called the White Gate.  At some point in time, there must have been a white gate here.

Seven sisters

Palo Blanco Mountain looked especially lovely earlier this week after a brief snow.

Locals refer to this mountain as the Seven Sisters because of the seven peaks (at least that’s what I am told).  There are many online references for the Seven Sisters but none related to this mountain in Northeast New Mexico.

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