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Day Three – Cattle Roundup Memories

Day Three at the Ranch

For some reason I’m not as tired as I was yesterday, although the dual alarms I have set practically shot me out of bed at 5:00 AM. I turned my lights off at 9:00 PM and I do not think I moved until that alarm went off. We were at the barn by 6:00, horses saddled and fed by 7:00 and up to breakfast. No break before breakfast like we usually have (maybe 20 or 30 minutes) and no break after breakfast either. We were in the saddle and on the trail at 7:45 AM. It was a lovely time to be out. The sun was just up fully and it was still quite cool which was very nice. I actually wore a long-sleeved fuzzy until maybe 11:00.

In the saddle early on a chilly morning.

I was hoping to get a glimpse, or better yet a photo, of a havalena (sp?), which is apparently New Mexico’s version of a wild boar. No luck. No luck in the wildlife department at all today. Not much luck in the cow department either. What a surprise. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. We did manage to find a herd of 19 around 11:30 and moved them down the valley to a holding pen.

I actually got a “good job” from R.J., the trail boss, which just about made me fall out of my saddle, but I kept my poker face to not show it. I actually think I have a knack for this herding cattle thing, and those other 3 people seem to have their heads of their rears for some of the things they were missing. Cows are funny. By far not the brightest lights on the tree, but they think of four things; sex (if they’re bulls), food, water and how to get away from humans. You can tell the one’s to watch by the look in their eyes, or more to the point, how they’re always watching the bushes on the sides for an escape route.

The lunches they pack are really something. I kid you not when I tell you it’s one slice of turkey and one slice of cheese between two big thick pieces of hard white bread. No lettuce, no tomato, no salt or pepper. I couldn’t even begin to choke mine down today. Yesterday I asked for a breakfast burrito because my sandwich was so bad on day one, and I literally got scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla. No salsa, no bacon, just eggs. Blech. Even my horse didn’t want it, although he did manage to eat my apple when I was getting something out of my saddlebag today. He’s a bad boy but he makes me laugh, which is more than most other guests can manage.

I finally got Roy to talk at lunch today. He’s a retired machine shop owner from Phoenix that moved to New Mexico last year. He helps a friend out with his business three times a week in the mornings. His boys, 33 and 31 bought the business form him and are doing quite well with both government contracts to fill making parts for hum vees (not a bad job during a war) and car parts for Honda. That’s all I got though.

Carol’s taking off tonight to head back home. She probably just got sick of the food. God forbid we actually find more than a handful of cows tomorrow without her. Not that she was much help anyway, but at least it was one more horse to try and keep the cows in line.

An enormous bird's nest below the windmill

The time passes much more quickly on the trail when there’s cow’s to move. Luckily we found the cows today pretty far away. I wish I’d brought a pedometer or something so I could know how many miles we ride each day. Tomorrow’s our last chance to find the other 100 or so cows left. Yeah right. Friday mornings castrating and branding time, and in the afternoon we round up the horses for worming.

We found some cows!

Do you see a “stupid” on my forehead in any of these photos? Because I keep chuckling to myself that there must be one there — paying good money to do this ranches cattle drive. The ‘stupid’ should be there because I’d probably do it again!

So, after a 7:45 departure we returned to the barns at 3:00; over 7 hours in the saddle. We un-tacked and washed and dried the horses. Then we got a break for 20 minutes before we had to go and feed, water and clean up the shit for the night. No, they don’t have to pay teenagers to do that at this ranch. No siree, they have paying guests that do it. Again, do you see “stupid” anywhere?

Roy and Jean-Francoise

However, when we got to the hay trailer R.J. was busy trying to trailer a young stallion for the first time who had to go to the vet and get gelded. We sat there on that trailer for 20 minutes waiting for him, when I it finally hit me who R.J. reminds me of; it had been bugging me since the first day — Martha Stewart. The way he’s treated us distinctly reminds me of how it felt to work for Martha. He gets some perverse pleasure out of telling us feeding is at 4:00 and then watching us wait. Luckily, my French friend got as sick of it as I did, so we figured out how to get that 4-wheel ATV thing going and off we went. One of the photos below is of him. We ran over a few things with the trailers, but besides herding the cows, that was the most fun we’d had all day. R.J. isn’t all bad though, because once he caught up with us (I guess he pretty quickly figured out how to get that stallion in the trailer once he saw us barreling down the road in the ATV he let me finish up the feeding driving it while HE fed the horses with the boys. R.J. will, from hereon in, be referred to as Martha.

Dinner was pathetic tonight. I don’t think you could really call it meatloaf, but it was something like that; dry and flaky. Blech. Frozen green beans and corn mixed with peas and carrots (I didn’t ever like that – please don’t mix my vegetables unless it’s Chinese or Indian) and bread with iceberg salad. Come on folks. At least we had New York cheesecake for dessert because Carol had brought one from her restaurant for them. Why they haven’t been serving that all week I don’t know.

Heads up Cyrena and Susan…with Cyrena’s people skills, Susan’s business skills, my creativity and my friend Terry Judd’s horse knowledge I think we could really make a business out of this. Do you know they don’t even have a hot tub here? How good would that feel at the end of the day?

I know I’m pissing and moaning a lot, but I really am enjoying myself. The weather is beautiful, although it is pretty darn hot in the sun between 2 and 4. But if I’m on a horse I’m happy. My knees didn’t bleed today (the liquid band-aids won out over the wrap-around bandages). I get to sleep in tomorrow. We’re back to our normal 7 AM barn call.

Love to all.

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