I'm past 60 where life seems a little quieter, more patient, less demanding, less contentious. Folks long gone are more remembered; childhood is more missed, youth is forgiven. With the grey hair, that I'm still vain enough to dye, has come the understanding that life isn't forever and if I have something left to do, I better get with it.
I come from a long line of love. My grandparents were married 63 years before my grandma died, my parents just a month short of 50 years when my dad passed away.
A cousin of one of my few cousins introduced us at a Ray Hunt Horsemanship Clinic. I thought he was way older than me (he's 6 months younger). He says he thought I was way out of his league. He was homely, skinny and poor. He bought me orange pop and sat by me in the bleachers because both of us could only afford to watch. I was supposed to be at school and he was supposed to be spraying crop (but it was too windy).
The last day of the clinic he invited me to go for coffee. We visited in the Cafe until they kicked us out and locked the doors for the night then we drove around till 2:00 AM. Somewhere in that short time I fell in love with my cowboy.
Finally, he parked the pickup in front of my parents house. I wanted to see him again but didn't quite know how to let him know. I thought: "I could kiss him. No. Then he might think I was too forward or easy." I said: "I really gotta go in."
He said: "Can I kiss you." I smiled. Sounds corny but honestly there were fireworks exploding all around me. We made arrangements for a date the next night and I floated up the walk to the front door.
When I opened it I wondered: "Is he the one?" and a clear voice from behind the door said: "That's the man you're going to marry." Stunned, I looked behind the door. There was no one there. I knew there couldn't be. There wasn't enough room.
My mom was sitting in the chair in the living room, waiting up for me, and curious about my behavior asked: "Are you OK?" I said: "Yes." and floated up the stairs to my bedroom where I cried all night to think that I had finally found him. We were married 6 weeks later. That was 33 years ago.
I think what really cinched it for him was the night he took me riding on Buck with only that old buckskin horse of his and the full moon to watch us kissing. It's still the most romantic thing I've ever done.
They had Ray Hunt Clinics that same time of year for a few years after and we always went to watch. We would sit in our spot on the bleachers and he would buy me an orange pop. Ray and everyone there knew how we met and that we were celebrating our anniversary in our own way. I always say we got married 'cause of Ray Hunt and I think Ray thought so too.
I saw that on a sign once. I figured it was for folks who have too many relatives. I don't, at least not in this country. My dad immigrated from Wales along with one brother and one sister; the rest of the 8 in his family stayed there. My mom's side was Danish and not a very productive bunch.
I guess, like most people, I'm on the outs with some of my relatives, but I think the ones I would have really liked I have never had the chance to meet, until just lately. I found or rather she found me, my cousin, little Noella, who was born on Christmas Eve an ocean away. Thanks to this computer website/email thing I got found 40 miles from town, living on the lone prairie.
I can't even express in words what it means to me, to have family. I think my sign would read:
"Relatives Croeso, Croeso, Croeso"
(that 's Welsh for Welcome, Welcome, Welcome). Who cares if my power keeps going out; along with the bad weather I've been given a Christmas Gift in April.
I don't like sad stories but living with and loving animals there just are some. I learned young, when my first collie died, that it is "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."
Today I was reminded of the story of Buddy's dad (see the previous post for info and pictures of Buddy). Big Doc came to us last fall for my cowboy to ride. His owners were trying to sell the stallion and thought he would benefit from big pasture riding as he'd been used for breeding purposes, only, for quite a while.
My cowboy'd been over to where the old stud lived numerous times and the horse always came up to the fence to get him to scratch his big strong jaw. He liked the horse and felt bad for him: not working, well treated, but not much to do and no one to love. The owner's were cautious around him. The blood line carried some horses with 'stories'.
The first day my cowboy rode Big Doc he wouldn't let me go with him, not sure how the stallion would react around other horses or me maybe, I'm not sure. Apparently by the time he got trailered to the North Sandhills pasture he had worked himself into a lather, just worried. My cowboy unloaded and climbed on board. The horse settled enough that when asked to go across some water he tried but it was a little too boggy and my cowboy let him back out and took him down to a safer spot to cross. When the old stud realized it was safe something changed in him. I guess he realized he could trust that guy with the palm leaf hat.
I never did ride with them but one night in the pitch dark, thinking my cowboy had gotten in some wreck, I drove the truck out to where I thought the two of them might be. Along side the rode, with the help of the truck headlights, I saw them trailing a few head towards the gate that I knew they were going to. I drove up there and waited.
My cowboy calmly dismounted, loaded Big Doc, and we drove home. On the way he kept saying: "Wow, what a good cowhorse." After that, he was like Buddy, always looking for the palm leaf hat guy.
We took him back after the cows went home and my cowboy went off to work for the winter, with the understanding he would be back next year if he wasn't sold. 10 days later the owners called to say he had been put down due to complications caused by colic.
Our consolation was that he'd been happy here. Happy to work, happy to eat grass, happy to have his own small pasture, happy to have a guy he trusted. I still wonder if he really died 'cause he couldn't face going back. Anyway, he's working for the real Boss now in the biggest and greenest pastures.
A few years ago my cowboy bought a horse, was supposed to have bucked a guy off as high as a local old style two story hotel. Buddy is a big sorrel, four white stockings, blaze face, something like John Wayne would ride or the Calgary Stampede Ranch would pay big dollars for. You know they like those sorrels with 4 socks, right?
Now, my horses like me, don't get me wrong but what has transpired between my cowboy and that horse is awe inspiring to me. I've never had a horse hooked on me like Buddy is onto my cowboy.
The first time he ever roped anything off the horse it was a bull that needed treating. That horse hung on for dear life when my cowboy stepped down, tied off, and then proceeded to tie the bull up with his leg rope. Buddy worked so hard to do his part, keeping our cowboy safe, that he won my heart that day.
Once when my cowboy's horse fell with him and the old fool broke his collarbone and 4 ribs I ended up having to check herds. At the end of a day, I drove into the yard in the old blue Dodge pulling the stock trailer, my cowboy's working rig. Buddy who, with a couple of friends, had been allowed to wander around in the yard saw the truck and came running to the driver's window. He looked in and saw me in the driver's seat and then ran over to the passenger's side looking for our cowboy.
Many days I see him standing as close as he can to the house trailer trying to look in the windows to see his cowboy. After a hard days work he'll stay up rather than going out to be with the other geldings as long as our cowboy is around. He just loves the guy. I've never seen anything like it and don't quite understand the depth of that relationship. It's pretty cool to watch, though.
Indians like my cowboy. I think it's his sense of humor that they appreciate. Me too.
I believe I'm married to one of the few men in the world that grocerie shops in Ikea. (His people were Swedish a generation or two back) and like all women I like to look at nesting stuff (commonly known as furniture). We got separated one day and he was still laughing when he found me again in the store.
"What's up?"I asked him and he tells me, "I saw two indian women walking along and one said to the other, ' How do you get out of here?' The other lady tells her, 'Just follow the arrows on the floor, What kind of Indian are you?' They both laughed."
One I threw at a bull in some long-thorned buffalo berry bushes. He was holed up and I was trying to spook him out, one day when I didn't have my dog with me. That was prior to a trip to the hospital for what felt like a broken hand when the knot on the end of my rope whirled around and hit the back, above my wrist. I went back the next day but no use. There seems to be some great ground god that gobbles up what ever falls and you never see the thing again. He got my cowboy hat that time. I really liked that hat.
The next one blew off when I was chasing a bull and having to stay focused, I thought: "I'll just come back for it after the bull is loaded in the trailer." Famous last words, at least for a cowboy's wife. That ground god must have got it too, I guess. (Previously there had been the almost new 60 foot ranch rope with a double tied hondu that I looked for for three hours one very cold day on horseback, a baseball cap from my reining days, various fencing tools, gloves, a second rope that untied itself from the back of my saddle, and the list goes on.)
The third one the dog just plain chewed to bits. I'm still scratching my head as to how it got off the hat rack in the back hall made out of old antlers (two mule deer and a white tail set).
But this spring my cowboy bought me a new one. It's a little Tom Mix, "Quigly Down Under," but hey, when you're as old as I am, I figure Retro kind of suits me. And besides, sometimes it's the only shade there is on those hot, hot summer days.
Today I exercised, walking to be exact. It's cheap to do, no special equipment needed, no gym memberships to pay for; its not too strenuous, you can do it with or with out friends, and you can even do it with cowboys, like I did with mine today.
It all started with a 3-year old with 30 or so rides on him and no he didn't buck on me, but he was going to and I wasn't up for it which disappointed my cowboy's plans of having me ride out with him to check fence on horseback. He said, trying to be sweet, "If you're really not feeling good, we can take the truck and check the north fence line in the field by the house. You can just come along for the ride. Bring a pup (we have 5 collie pups) and you can just stay in the truck and pet the dog."
Well, that all sounded to good to be true, which I, of course, didn't realize really would be too good to be true, until sometime later and, foolishly, I went along with the whole idea.
I was having a real nice time pointing out the missing staples with one hand while the other petted Glynnis (that's a Welsh name, meaning Little Valley, I read somewhere). My good dog, Blue, was lying on the passenger side floor at my feet with his head under the seat, his usual place.
My cowboy was telling me a wild cow story and he has the most annoying habit of looking right at me when he does that, even if he is driving, which he was. But one of us should have been looking where he was going.
Truck, post-pounder, cowboy, cowboy's wife, and two collies drove right into the soft edges around the slough and no amount of flinging mud forward or backward was going to get us out.
He turned the truck off and looking wistfully toward home says to me: "How far do you think it is to the house?" By then I was really wishing I'd stayed there and he could have just phoned me to come with the other truck and pull him out.
"3 miles" I grumbled as I stepped out into the mud with my slick-soled riding boots. Ya, walking: it's cheap exercise, no special equipment needed, and you can do it with a cowboy.
I just can't figure out why some mother's (cows) think that the middle of a blizzard is the best time to calve. Well, I can't really blame her, I guess. How much does she know, being a heifer and all? I saw the tail up in the air and I knew, but what could I do? All winter I hadn't been able to get near enough to even get a good look, thanks to the 'Old Bag' that was running with her. And the wind was howling and the snow was blowing so I think I only saw because the two of them didn't see (me) when I drove by.
I had to get home and batten down the hatches. My two old geldings that I had been babying this winter were in the corral with no wind break along with the 'Kid' (who mistakingly thinks I'm his person). I fought the wind to get into the barn, locked the collies in one of the 2 box stalls, and and got one halter down from it's hook. By the time I got back outside the oldest gelding was waiting to get in the barn. I could barely see for the the wind whipping the snow in my eyes. I just put the halter shank around his neck and finished putting the halter on when I got him in the barn and tied him in the tie stall.
The 'Kid', a good little blaze-faced sorrel 3-year old I had ridden a few times, followed us in. I opened the box stall and he went in. I petted his face and told him, "Smart kid," then closed the stall door.
I could hear Pic, my paint horse, crying above the howling wind rattling the tin roof of the barn. I called out his name and he found me at the barn door. He walked into the other tie stall in our small barn and I took down another halter, put it on, and tied him there. The mangers were already filled with hay and I added a can of oats for each of them. Inside it was cozy and almost warm. I stayed a while in the barn and listened to the sound of the wind howling and the driving snow hitting the tin roof and the calm peaceful sound of my horses munching their oats.
"Miserable weather," I thought. Then the little poem I learned as a kid popped into my head:
Tom was a good sorrel horse. I rode him a few days in the feedlot one winter. He tolerated the tooke, snowsuit, mittens and my 60 below boots which all made it hard just to get on a horse.
One day when it was around 35 below my cowboy found an obviously not-sick-enough heifer he thought needed treating but when he went after her she got by him. I thought it would be easy to cut her off at the fence but she went under my horse instead of stopping. Tom bucked and I blew out the back falling hard on a frozen cow pie.
Well, I fell off but my big old snow boots stuck in the stirrups. They came off my feet (luckily and not so luckily), finally shaking loose, and falling to the ground about 6 big jumps away. My cowboy, of course, was more worried about the trauma I had caused the horse by my falling off and lit out after the horse to catch and calm him down. Meanwhile, I'm a long way from my boots and I couldn't very well walk over there across the snow on my already cold stocking feet.
I decided to crawl since my snowpants and mittens would protect my hands and knees. On my way I somehow managed to drag one foot through some fresh cow pucky and when I got to my boots I decided it would be better to take off my sock rather than sticking that mucky thing in my boot. That's how my husband found me when he came back with Tom: taking my sock off.
By then I was mad. "You care more about the horse than you do me. I could have been laying here with a broken leg. Fat good you are when I get dumped." I tiraded till I was all madded out. I could see him trying really hard not to laugh. "What?" I grumbled.
All he could spit out before he lost his composure was, "But why are you taking your socks off?"
And I didn't tell him.
Bulls, big white Charolais bulls; if there was anything I don't like much that would be it. Let me tell my best big white bull story which is the total truth (with only a few embellishment to make it a good story).
All he had to do was go through a gate, an open gate, but no. It wasn't his idea and he just wasn't about to do it. Gentle suggestion didn't work, firm encouragement, didn't work, Growling "Hey Bull" and insisting didn't work.
In the end, I'm not sure who was madder, him or me. I hate them when they charge my horse with me sitting up there already half scared to death. This time, the scareder I got; the madder I got.
The bull was insisting he follow some cows that I figured were headed for the dugout about a mile and a half away. I looked down at my glas- eyed dog, Blue, and wondered if he was up for my plan. I yelled to my cowboy (who was at a distinct disadvantage without a dog this day), "Close the gate and load up. Meet us at the dugout."
Blue and I headed off after the bull. He ran till he got a little tired and decided it would be easier to fight. With Blue biting his heels when he charged me and me yelling and running my horse up behind him when he turned to fight my dog we got the bull spinning around and dizzy enough that he went back to his original plan, following the cows (now way ahead of him) to the dugout. He tried us a few more times but we managed to convince him he was better off running than fighting.
This dugout had a solar pump and a long trough made of culvert that it pumped into outside a wire and board fence. The bull ended up on one side of the culvert trough and me on the other. He was threatening me like he was going to come over the culvert after me. He was bluffing and I could tell and mad as I was I guess I just wasn't thinking clear. I took down my rope and roped him. "HA!" I thought, "got you now." When I went to dally it finally dawned on me that this bull out-weighed my horse by at least twice.
Now what? I wasn't about to lose my rope. (They are darn sure expensive and besides it's a matter of pride not losing your rope.) I figured maybe I could tie it to one of those posts and then thought better of it when I decided he would just snap it off, if he pulled at all. Then I thought, "maybe not if I tie it to the bottom of the post." So, I did. Very carefully I got off my horse, not 3 feet from that bulls nose (but on the other side of the culvert) and got down on my hands and knees, tied the rope around the post and carefully got back on my horse.
I was sitting there when my cowboy drove up with the stock trailer. I see him really looking at me strange but I motioned for him to back up to where the bull was. He opened the door of the trailer, tied it back, and backed right up to my big white hog-tied buddy. We threw another rope on him to make sure he wouldn't get away and when I slacked mine off he jumped right in the trailer. My cowboy laughed and said, "Looks like he had enough of you."
"And I had enough of him."
My cowboy told our farrier the story some time later and his comment was,"Boy I bet you never want to make her mad."