By Patty Wilber
I bought new riding rain coat from a company called Muddy Creek. As we are in a record drought, I have been toting it all over, unused, for months.
Saturday, I was up at 4:15am and on the road by 5, under dark (’cause the sun wasn’t up) and overcast skies. We made the ranch, at 10,000 feet, near the border of Colorado, around 9 am. Clouds were building to the south in big puffs of white and gray, shot with spears of sky.
I flopped my green saddle bags behind the cantle and threaded the leather lacings on the saddle skirt through the grommets to secure them.
I dutifully rolled and tied my new rain coat with the left over leather AND clothesline attached to the saddle bags themselves.
The wind gusted and the clouds kept layering up. Three drops of rain dotted my horse as I swung on.
We headed out, two riders and a ponied horse. The ponied horse was superfluous, but she came along so she would not bust out of the barb-wire pen in a fit of lonely despair and come searching for her mates.
The cattle were half a mile east of the bunkhouse in a sloped meadow near the salt blocks. The grass was knee deep on the horses and in the seeps and rivulet streams, the sedges were emerald green.
I kept eying the sky, but the clouds were not falling. Neither was the rain.
Spent some time (futilely) trying to rope the three newest calves, one of which is mine –my fourth. They need to be ear tagged.
Roping calves off a horse that does not neck rein while ponying another horse is impossible. You’d need four arms–two for reins, one for the lead rope, and one for the lariat. I was born with the normal number of appendages, so tied up and tried to sneak up on the calves.
I could get pretty close...but not close enough to git ’em with my rope. Roping takes a lot of practice, plus MY rope was in my trailer, which was at home. Truthfully, that is a feeble excuse because even with my own rope, chance of catching was slim.
Gave up. Maybe next week.
Instead, decided to move the three interloping bovines from Espinosa’s and push them back out the SE fence.
Mounted up. The intruders were on the edge of our herd, so we cut them off and hurried them down hill. I mainly provided blocking manuevers because I had the non-neck reiner and the pony horse, which, for fast speeds and quick turns really requires three hands. Still only have the two.
The sky was was opening up...in that the clouds were parting to let in the sun. Chances of rain diminishing. So glad I packed The Coat.
We moved those cows down a drainage, across a creek, took a sharp left around a wall of granite boulders and paused there. We only had one lost-in-the-trees moment, but other than that, put those animals exactly where we wanted them. (Getting better at that!)
Gave up on the rain. It was supposed to really let loose. Ha. Not here. Guess that means we will actually have to finish our day-work and go home. No stuck in the mud excuses to stay. Drat.
Checked Barlow Creek for additional strays. Gotta hate that. Had to long trot, toting the pony horse, down around two bends of green trimmed canyon next to a clear running stream with small trout flitting from rock to rock. No one there.
Got the three we did have pushed up the hill, through the trees and across the dry lake bed, which was a boggy marsh in June but is a soft meadow right now. Opened the fence (the handy dandy fence tool came in handy dandy!), and sent those girls home.
My the commotion they caused! The stayed-at-homes were mooing a “Where you been?!” greeting and crowding around to see the returnees. We left them to their inspections and headed east along the bad fence to the S, to see if it had completely fallen.
Still up, and those cows were on the correct side–theirs.
Rode between Elk Ridge and Grass Mountain, where there is not much water. The elk use the area but the cows do not. Gorgeous steps of grass sliding steeply into the Brazos river canyon. Five elk were clinging to the volcanic tuff slope on the opposite side and then bounded up the cliff when they saw us. Wound back around to Barlow Creek and the horse pens.
Saw a porcupine, all golden quilled at dusk, waddling through a meadow on the drive down the mountain.
We hit a little rain, and stopped to tarp the saddles. So the rain quit. Rolled into my driveway at midnight. I think I am getting too old for these 20 hour days.
Monday, I went to work cows with my friend Mark, and I did not bring my rain coat.
Got a six incher. The raindrops were 6 inches apart.
The arena got damp on top but the dust was still hot and loose underneath. I rode my name across the arena for grins.
Got a little wet, but by horse three, it stopped and we dried right up, and so did the ground.
If we do not get more rain soon, all the cows in Torrance county (where I hope to winter my bovines) are either going on the auction block or are going to cost their owners a bundle of feed for the winter.
I really want to hold on to my five girls! Having too much fun to give up now. (Not making any money, but hey, still working through the “start up costs”.) Just keep telling myself that!