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.
This is a draft I had sitting around in Blogger for a while, thought maybe I should use it. I'm just lunch breaking right now while my cowboy gets us fresh horses.
I've been thinking about Hackamores lots lately and wanted to do this How To that shows how we lead a horse with one. (Wilbur's forelock looks bad from all the burs I picked out of it)
This is Wilbur in his hackamore. The bosal (the loop that goes around his nose) is called a pencil bosal because it has a very small diameter (like a pencil). The reins and macate are one continous piece of 22 foot long horsehair (a little prickly but I always wear gloves and my cowboys skin is like thick leather already). The part that goes over his ears is called the hanger. Note it has no throatlatch. That makes it very easy to pull off when you are leading or tying your horse. The ways we fix this is as follows:
I pull the loop of reins up closer to his ears and put most of the loop on the far side.
Then I take the lead or macate part and make a loop in it (the loop is in my hand).
I take the tip of the rein loop and put it through the loop that was in my hand in the last picture.
Then I go around the part that is hanging down and back up through the same loop that was in my hand originally. (This is all a fancy explanation for a bowline that is a knot that will not slide so tight you can't get it undone.)
That leaves quite a bit hanging down so I usually put a half hitches like the following.
And voila. The hackamore is adjusted so you can lead or tie your horse with out worry that it would pull off.
I hope this little girl, that I think is very special, a real cowboys wife, won't mind me quoting this; it was so beautifully put and a feeling I deeply share.
"There's something romantic about this way of life, I can't quite put my finger on what it is.It's a way of life that is so different, and so unique. It's a way of life I have loved for as long as I can remember."
Married to a working cowboy means sacrifices. But it's just the worldly stuff that in the eternities won't have the least bit of significance for us. There is what cowboys call "the pay that doesn't come in an envelope" that makes this way of life so special. I call it "the good things of this earth". No words can describe the feelings. Here, let me try:
My favorite job on the ranch is doing the night check on heifers. I get up a 3:00 AM and get dressed without turning on any lights. Over my pajamas I put my old wool sweater, lined snowpants, an insulated vest, my warmest coat, 60 below Farenhiet big boots, a tooke, a face shield (sometimes if the wind is sharp), scarf, mittens and walk out to the cold barn often through the crunching snow. My horse, that my cowboy saddled for me earlier at midnight when he did his last check, is munching hay or sleeping with one leg calked in my tie stall. My friend and partner nickers when he hears me coming.
I remove his halter and put a hackamore on his head because a cold metal bit would have to be warmed in my already cold hands before I would dare put it in his mouth. We get out of the barn and I do my best to climb on his back (looking and feeling like the good year blimp in all those clothes). He and I ride out of the corrals into the small 40 acres calving field.
Oh ya, I forgot about the flashlight. It's dark but the sky is spectacular, every constellation crisp in cold air. The only other lights are the Christmas lights, way up at the house. We leave them up till we're done calving heifers in the middle of April for a little happy cheer on such cold nights. When I see a heifer that looks restless I shine my flashlight on her back end to see if anything is happening or going to happen.
I see stuff and watch her lay down and strain. Yup, she's in labor. My own belly clinches in sympathetic pain remembering the birth of my own children. My horse and I stand a comfortable distance away and watch quietly. We are sharing this moment of a miracle repeated here, some times two or three or more times, every night. But the wonder of each time always makes me feel . . . (I think the word might be) reverent.
It takes time and I get anxious: Is this taking too long? Is she alright? Is she having any trouble? Will I need to wake my cowboy to come help me help her? Then a something tells me: "Just wait" and I do. I wait for the reward for waking up in the middle of night, for braving the cold, for how tired I will be all day especially after a month of it.
Then it happens; out slips a wet, little, steaming body onto the frozen ground. The cow, if she was laying down stands up and turns around to look. She touches it with her nose and it moves. She seems to get excited and begins to lick and lick and lick. The little head shakes and it's ears flop back and forth. He basks in the love of his very own mother. It's all interesting, wonderful to watch but the reward is still to come.
Shortly the nearly dry baby tries to stand; it takes a few tries to figure out 4 new legs. The mother is close and concerned. Then it happens. This animal, this first time mother, makes the sweetest softest sound in the whole dark world. Of course it's a mooing sound, but not like any other moo a cow ever makes; this is her first word to her firstborn. Every time I witness it my soul takes wings and soars. I'm not sure why, exactly.
My friend and I quietly turn and go back to the barn where I pull his saddle and turn him out to join the herd of geldings. I walk towards our Christmas lights and try not to wake my cowboy when I go in the house and undress. I crawl under the warm covers and strong arms pull me closer.
Spent a long day riding through trees and brush and sloughs looking for cattle in the same pasture we already cleaned out once ( the hardest pasture to do) thanks to the Oil Patch fiasco earlier. I took pictures but stupid Blogger is just eating up my MegaBites but never getting me to the window where I can upload any onto my blog. And I guess I'm too tired to fight with it.
I think I might change to Word Press if this keeps up. I'll let you all know before I do that. But it isn't going to take many more days of this.
Blue and Psaw came with us. All the cattle were good.
Psaw loves 'her' cowboy.
I came home and made lunch while she and he found and moved cows out of the Middle field. We ate. While they went to finish up I made Chocolate cake (not French : ) Ride a horse and bake cake, I'm feeling pretty good about myself (even if another girl thinks he's hers).
Blue thought it was a good day but then Blue is like that, everyday he gets to work is a good day to him.
And there was about 60 pairs that thought it was a good day because they got to go South, closer to their winter home. They were the last of the cows that were in the pasture they were supposed to be in. Any way, that's 2 out of the 3 pastures that were involved in the big Oil Patch fiasco cleaned out. Just the big Middle field left. We saved the worst till the last.
And I thought it was a good day because it was a little shorter. Thanks to an appointment in town I got to quit early and now I'm going to do my favorite housework, laundry.
And my cowboy thinks a good day because when he got back from town he saddled another horse and went out to "have some more fun" (He never thinks it work if done on a horse.)
PS. Becky, that bull was born in 95 and is his last year on the lease and for anyone who is wondering, the Long Horn Bull that escaped from the neighbors, hasn't shown up here yet, thank Heavens.
We moved some cows out of the Dragline field, cleaned out the Lake field, found a white bull that was missing and moved him a long painstakingly slow walk all the way to corrals at the South camp.
This is the bull's pee break on the way. Note how much bigger he is than the horse and rider.
I went ahead to open gates into the nice new corrals and found 3 cows and 3 calves from the neighbors there and put them in the corral. When all that was done we called the owners to take the bull and the cows home.
And of course, there was a limping calf that needed treating. Here my cowboy is just sorting out his rope, a 60 foot gold poly with leaded wire wove into it. It's a heavy rope that works better when it is windy. He actually really doesn't like the thing but ropes are expensive and he's making do with it for this year.
And that was all before lunch. Of course 'lunch' was at 5:00 PM.
Just me, waiting for my cowboy to come back and pick me up. The neighbor boy phoned this morning to say that a rather nasty Long Horn bull that he was taking care of for someone, jumped the corral fence and might now be in with our cows. Just what we need to add to the October chaos, oil patch, hunters, now a Long Horn bull of all things. We used to have Long Horn cattle so I know what this is going to be like. The pictures would be something to see, to say the least.
Pray real hard that he went to the neighbor's instead. Then it might actually be funny.
What a day, now, with all this work to do: cows spread all over tarnation (thanks to oilpatch and hunters), and a could be big problem bull, we have to spend half the day fussing with the work truck because the fuel pump went. Oh well, such is life. Tomorrow is another day (hopefully not one like today)
Oh no! On top of all that, I just tried to post one picture! Honestly, I didn't pray for patience this time!
Aaah. I can't believe how tired I am. I got home after 5:30 PM. and spent since 9:30 AM finding cows, moving cows, finding more cows, moving those cows, finding cows, moving cows . . . You get the picture.
Finally Blue and I just sat down in the grass and had a break. That was around noon. Then more finding cows, moving cows . . .
I did scare up this humungous mule tail. I couldn't get any closer so the picture of him is kind of small.
I almost thought he was an elk he was so big and fat. That was the only excitement. The rest was finding cows, moving cows. . .
I failed at what I attempted to do today with rounding up some of the cattle and had to drive the trailer around and wait for my cowboy, Hooch, and Pshaw. When I first got there, to the south end of the field a few cows came to see if it was mooooooving day for them.
It wasn't but they called and a few more friends showed up.
Then a few more
till finally they were all waiting in the corner to move South (no picture of the whole bunch). They really are insistant. So I decided to walk over there and take some portrait pictures.
I thought this one was the best. That 16 is her ear is her lease tag, it tells us who her owner is and makes sorting so much easier in the fall because they just look at the tag when the cow comes down the alley in those nice new pipe corrals I showed you the other other day. It is so much faster than reading brands on furry hides.
Pay particular attention to the variety of hairdos.
You can really see the Simmental influence, eh?
See how much Hooch has grown : ) He's gonna be a big boy I think. Note he's in a hackamore already.
My cowboy says I'm really going to like him when it's my turn. I can hardly wait.
(Ok, it's working today. I feel bad for being so crabby now.)
I tell the cows: "It's Moooooooooving Day". I figure they get the Mooooo part of it, if nothing else.
The cows here are funny. When the days get cooler and fall is in the air they start hanging out on every south fence line they are at, wanting to go home. They all know South is home for the winter and their farmers, who own them, have nice fresh hay stockpiled for them and will take good care of them when the snow hits. Winters here are hard but cattle are tough. I don't know how they manage outside at as low as 40 degrees below Fahrenheit (minus 60 sometimes with the wind chill factor), bless their hearts.
We have one paved road that runs right through the middle of the lease, east to west. It is a real pain to cross cows over, mostly due to the traffic, although there isn't really a lot, just a few rude drivers.
Once across no has to encourage them to go as far south as they can. We've tried to force them south a time or two with disastrous consequences, eh Crystal? Now we just let them find their own way and it works so much better.
I know this is an odd picture but these cows tails were more like a horse's tail. They were very long with long hairs more like a horse. The picture doesn't really do them justice. They have pretty tails.
Pshaw helped today. She is becoming a very valuable little girl.
Buddy was very carefully eating the very tops of any thistles he could find.
This is what he is eating in the above picture. Just the fuzzy parts.
I rode Wilbur. He is very big. I took this so you could see where eye level is on this horse for me. This is no exaggeration. Those of you that are aware of this view on your own horse can see why it might be a little hard for an old lady to get up there but I can do it. I might have to grunt but I can crawl up there.
This big ditch runs through the southern end of the lease from east to west. No shortage of water here.
Unlike the thistles, apparently, the cat tails are no longer edible.
And cows hate Crested Wheat this time of year. I don't blame them; it looks like eating wire to me.
We had to treat a calf for foot rot. Yes this is a calf. Can you tell how big it is? It looks like a yearling heifer already. This Simmental herd has the best calves.
My cowboy's hat got left at the gate (he didn't want to risk it blowing off it on the chase this calf was giving him and in the wind that was blowing about that time) and he could only find one big work glove today but still managed to get it all done.
Have I ever said how much I admire his ability to cowboy. It's pretty awesome being married to a top hand like him.
A productive day and I got to do it with the 2 guys I love best in the whole world, Blue and my cowboy.