Thoughts Thoughts

Memories of My Cattle Roundup

In late May of 2008 I took a trip alone down to New Mexico to participate in a cattle roundup on a ranch. At the time I was leasing a horse so I was riding regularly, but not like this. Every night I would write about my day and send it home to my family and friends while sitting out on the porch of the locked main house, which was the only place that had internet. It was an interesting and wonderful trip and I enjoyed writing home about it. My friends and family really enjoyed my daily updates and writings. Reflecting on it today, this was probably the beginning seeds of this blog, so I thought it would be fun to publish them for you to read, along with the few pictures I took on the trip, over the next five days. Following is Day One. It got more exciting every day, so come back to find out what happens on a cattle roundup!

Day One at the Ranch

Hi Everyone!

I arrived yesterday just in time for dinner. A few wrong turns along the way, but never for long. This town is so small and the street isn’t even on the map. Oh well. Now I know to leave a lot of time to get back to the airport, but I suspect the return to Phoenix won’t be so hard.

My cabin porch

Dinner was simple cowboy fare. Brisket, corn, baked potato and bread, but it was all good. I was pooped. My cabin is really cute. It could be so much more if I got my hands on it, but it’s certainly a step above the dude ranch last year. There’s a coffee pot, microwave and mini fridge. A shower/tub in the bathroom and the room is big and airy with vaulted ceiling, a big table, and a covered front porch that I’ve moved this padded rocker out on to. After dinner I just showered, unpacked, and sat on the porch doing some needlework until the sun went down and I could go to bed! As I sat there quietly a deer came up and was eating brush probably 20 feet away. Not exactly wildlife after Darien, but they don’t usually get that close there.

The deer off my front porch the first night

I was up at 6:00 this morning, as we had to report to the barn at 7:00 sharp to saddle the horses. Once groomed and tacked up, we all climbed in the back trailer of their 4-wheeler and drove around throwing hay to the horses and cows. Breakfast was at 8:30, which was quite good. There was simple breakfast fare of scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes or cereal. Breakfast was over at 9:00 and we actually got to go back to our cabin for ½ an hour before we had to saddle up and hit the trail.

There are only 3 other guests! I guess a mother and daughter were supposed to come. The mother had given it to her daughter as a college graduation present, but the daughter called a week or two again and said she didn’t know what her mother was thinking; neither of them rode well enough to do this, so they’re coming to Cowgirl Camp Level 1 next time. The next couple was literally on their way when one or the other got very ill and they had to go home. So, we’re left with Carol, an about-to-turn 40 married mother of 3 that used to live in Minnesota, but after coming here to New Mexico a time or two decided to move here. They own a restaurant in the small town outside of Albuquerque that they live in, which they just sold a few weeks ago and will be transitioning to the new owners over the summer. This is Carol’s 10th visit to the ranch. The next guest is Roy, who is probably 50, divorced with kids that I think are grown. Doesn’t talk much. The last is a Frenchman named Jean who has been here quite a few times. He is the chief of police in some big town outside of Paris (the name is escaping me right now), but he lives in Paris with his girlfriend. He has a grown daughter. He is probably the most outgoing of the bunch and is quite funny, but his English is not so great. He was not feeling well today though and right after lunch he threw up in the bushes and probably ¼ mile from home he had to get off and they had to go get a 4-wheeler to pick him up. We all assumed he was still just having stomach problems, but apparently his HEART was bothering him. Hope we don’t have to break for a funeral! I’ll check on him before dinner to see if he’s still alive.

Jean-Francoise, Parisian officer of the law and fellow cattle rustler became my best bud on this trip

The two ranch hands are Mark and C.J. Mark is probably the chattiest of the two, but in typical cowboy fashion they are men of few words. Mark opened up a little on the ride home before Jean fell ill. He owned a boat business in San Diego for 20 years and moved here 4 ½ years ago with his wife and stepdaughter, never looking back.

I think this cow must be related to the cow we called Lyle Lovett in Jackson. Nice hair.

My horse today was Poncho. Looked much like my Chipper, but I’m used to my horse, who is quite thin in the girth, although not a skinny horse; he’s just built that way. Poncho was much wider, so I felt rather “rounded” all day. My ‘Tush Cush’ certainly was a welcome addition to the saddle though and I suspect by Wednesday I will be bringing out the “big guns” – the full saddle and leg fleece cover! Tomorrow I will be bandaging the inside of my knees, as they are the most sore on me tonight. But, Poncho was a great trail horse. Much like my horse at the dude ranch last year, he likes to be the lead horse, so I’m constantly trying to get his nose out of the head wrangler’s horse’s rear end.

My horse for the week was Poncho. I would have bought this horse in a heartbeat had he been for sale. He was a great trail horse.

The countryside was spectacular. The wildlife seen today includes:

• Quail
• Bighorn Sheep; momma, daddy & little baby
• Great Blue heron (didn’t expect to see one of those here)
• Golden eagle
• A lone turkey
• Kildeer – a strange little bird a little like a sandpiper but with shorter legs. Apparently I almost rode over it’s nest, so it does this strange dance/run with his wings out trying to get you to follow it, instinctively willing to sacrifice itself for it’s young.

Apparently we will see many more bighorn sheep and there are black bear, mountain lion (we saw their scat), bobcat and some odd-named wild boar.

Terrible picture of the quail we saw

Equally terrible picture of the large-eared jackrabbit.

We had lunch on a grain-grinding ledge of an Indian tribe I’d never heard of before that was covered with round indentations of where the tribe ground their grain. There were cave carvings too.

How would you like to go through life as a cow with horns like this. No wonder she looks so sad.

Apparently there are about 120 cattle for us to locate on their 50 square mile land! We found 3 today! Actually, we rounded up a few more, but at the end of the day for some reason there wasn’t enough time for us to bring them in. There are 17 horses for us to round up one day as well, worm, and push back out. The three cattle that we did bring in were quite exciting as they were apparently wild and we were way up at the top of this mountain when we spotted them and somebody started moving them (we had split up at that point and I was just with RJ and Carol). We loped and galloped down that hill in order to not lose them. I knew there was no way I was going to stop Poncho when he had a job to do, so I just held on and stayed right behind R.J.

That face!

We got back around 3:00, which seemed early, though I was grateful (or my ass and knees were). But then we had to wash, dry and brush the horses and do the old trailer-ride-behind-the-RV hay thing.

This remains one of the sweetest looking calf's I've ever photographed

Hope all is well at home and I miss everyone. I will send pictures when I can.

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