More time for more work

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.

The ankle biter

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!

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

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.)

Boot Boneyard

Another pair of boots has gone to boot heaven.

My cowboy has gone through a lot of boots in the last 16 years.  They go from good for special occasions, to good for going to town, then finally to good enough to work in.

But, this probably doesn’t compare to dozens of shoes I’ve been through in the same amount of time.  The difference is that his are usually totally worn out.  Mine are probably less worn out than out of style.

A few of my current favorites!

Cowboy boots never go out of style.  Even when they are totally worn out they still look cool.  The history of cowboy boots dates back to the days after the civil war when traditional boots were found to be uncomfortable during long rides.

These custom beauties are made by Lisa Sorrell, I saw a PBS special on her work which made me want to visit for my own pair. This coming from the girl who doesn't usually wear boots.

My cowboy announced his current work pair was no longer comfortable.  He wondered if we should resole them or send them to the cowboy boot boneyard.

We’ve resoled many.  This pair doesn’t look like the leather can withstand another fix. So, go in peace old friends.  Go in peace.

This boot boneyard is in Portales, NM at a friend's arena.

The kid is alright

I’m sure there are a few vegetarian cattle ranchers out there somewhere.

My six-year-old has decided she is not a meat eater.  Actually, this has been the case most of her life with the exception of a chicken nugget here and there.  It’s not about ethics or politics and she sure doesn’t mind anyone else enjoying a juicy steak.  She just likes other things to eat.

It’s true my girl always takes her lunch to school.  She takes fresh fruit, vegetables, parmesan or goat cheese and a yogurt every single day because that’s what she prefers.

Picky?  Sure.  But, I am not opposed to her food choices.  I am really pleased she loves fruit and vegetables and doesn’t need ranch dressing or ketchup to make them edible.  I also find it amusing that she likes stinky cheese–a girl after my own heart!

But, I wonder how she will do as a vegetarian cattle rancher?  Other than not eating meat, she is just like most ranchers; she loves the herd and remuda and she has the best interest of the animals at heart.  She’ll be alright.

Ice Queen

The cold snap is over for the time being.  But, not without leaving a few gentle reminders about the way it’s going to be for the next few months.

No more walking out on the porch barefoot to greet the morning sun.

Hello fuzzy socks.  Greetings Mr. Axe.  What?  Yes, the axe to break the ice for the horses.

The ice wasn’t all that thick.  But, in my overly dramatic way, I welcomed the cold by breaking the ice with the axe usually reserved for extremely cold mornings when the ice is inches thick, not centimeters.

I have been called the ice queen before but today I embraced it as queen of the ice.

Freezing our assets

We’ve been anticipating the cold snap for about a week.  It was hard to think seriously about the cold because temperatures have been in the 70s the last few days.  Today, it’s 34 degrees and the first snow is beginning to fall.

Regardless of the weather conditions work must go on.  Preg checking is scheduled for tomorrow.  So, the guys are saddling up to work cattle in preparation.

This is nothing, though.  It’s a little cold snap, just the beginning of a long, cold winter.  The heavy winter wear has been unearthed.  We’ve thrown out the old gloves, caps and coveralls and made a place for this year’s stash.

I better get to town to get my cowboy the new coveralls we’ve been discussing.  I don’t want him to freeze his assets off again tomorrow.

Gift Horse or Horse Gift

Patience is not one of my strong points. While I like the buzz of city traffic, I don’t want to wait in stand-still traffic or wait for a parking space, for that matter.

Small town living caters to my impatience.  I drive up to the gas pump and the people inside immediately flip the pump on because they know me.  I always get a front-row-Joe parking spot at the grocery store.  It’s 30 miles from my house to town; it takes 25 minutes because there is never a traffic jam.

Cattle and young horses need time to warm up to a person no matter how well they know you.  They sense your impatience, agitation, worry and any other emotion you may have.

I fed the little herd that hangs out near the in-laws’ house yesterday.

They were on the opposite side of the fence so I could dump their cake over the fence and not be run over by them as they hurried to get their share.

Since it was a beautiful day–no wind, warm air and quiet calm–I sat on my side of the fence and just watched and listened to the little buggers for a while.

It took a while but eventually each one of them came over to me, sniffed my shoe and let me give them a little scratch on the ear.  This herd is generally used to people but they don’t stay close long enough for conversation.

I had the same experience with two young horses. Neither has yet been handled much.

It was fun to slowly reach out and give them a little nuzzle on their noses without spooking them.  My daughter joined me and it was even more fun to watch her.

Patience is a virtue.  Patience is a gift.