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Day Two – Cattle Roundup Memories

Continuing with my diary from the cattle roundup I did in May of 2008, below are my writings back to family and friends from day 2. While days 1 and 2 were not particularly exciting, they do provide some character development for the more exciting days 3, 4, and 5.

Day Two at the Ranch

Well, I survived day two at the ranch.

I swear to God I think I could make a killing at this business. These people are making a living and they honest to God have no personality or business skills that I can see. There is so much more that could be done and people would be knocking down the door to do this. To start with, if you’re going to have a cattle drive, then there should be more than 130 cattle spread out over 50 square miles! I REALLY enjoy working cattle, but the majority of both days have been spent trying to find the elusive creatures. Two days, 13 hours in the saddle and only 12 cattle to show for it. That’s ridiculous and boring. The scenery is beautiful, but not THAT beautiful.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to head out earlier to try and find some before they hunker down in the brush for the heat of the day, so it’s at the barn at 6 AM instead of 7 AM and then breakfast on the go. No promises that we’ll be home any earlier either. I cannot believe I’m paying to do this. What a racket – free labor. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun do be riding all day. I really like my horse and I love all the varied terrain and scenery. Hopefully tomorrow we find more cows.

Cactus flowers and distant views

Carol is actually leaving tomorrow after the ride – she has to fly out to Minnesota for her son’s high school graduation – he’s been living with his grandparents for the past 2 years because the schools in New Mexico were so bad.

So, it will be just me and Roy (who I kid you not has MAYBE said 100 words the entire trip so far – including 3 meals a day and all day on the trail) and Jean Francoise, the barely-English speaking chief of police. He’s actually very nice and is feeling much better today. Except for the language barrier we’re getting along well. He has two grown daughters – 33 and 32 – that say he likes criminals better than them because he was gone so much when they were growing up. This is his 4th or 5th visit to the ranch. Mark, the ranch hand/past sail shop owner in San Diego, didn’t come out today (probably because we’re such a small group.) So, it was just R.J. and us, who let’s just say is a man of few words. I don’t think he knows quite what to think of me. I told him to expect a smack from me by the end of the trip.

Not as much wildlife to report today:

• Jackrabbits (with the largest ears when you’re used to our little cottontails at home.)
• Lots of turkey vultures.
• Many lizards (saw them yesterday but I forgot to list them)
• A flock of wild turkeys
• A small hawk with 3 stripes in his tailfeathers
• VERY FRESH black bear prints. R.J. thought they weren’t more than ½ an hour old. You could still see the cracks in the pads of his feet in the sand prints. We didn’t, thankfully, run into him, although we saw plenty of bear tracks today.

I found the bleached out skull of a coyote that I’ll bring home and we found three pieces of very old Indian pottery up at an old home site on top of a mountain ridge. There’s an old miner’s catalog I’ve asked to go to if we get in the neighborhood so I can photograph it and add it to my abandoned home photo collection.

There’s apparently a pack of wild mustangs mares (not truly wild, but the ranch owners bought them and released them on the land to live wild. With them they also released a miniature donkey gelding named Taco. Apparently he doesn’t realize;

a) That he’s not a stallion anymore or

b) That he’s not a full-size equine and not only keeps up with the mustangs, but struts around like he’s some big macho stallion, which must be very fun to see.

Once again we ran across every horse that we will herd in on Friday, but we weren’t looking for horses today, we were looking for cows. Hopefully the horses won’t disappear on Friday.

The fun news is that whatever cows we do manage to find we then get to brand and castrate the calves! NO, I’M NOT KIDDING. I promise I’ll get pictures, although that makes R.J. grumpy.

R.J., the head wrangler

I was in bed with lights off at 9:20 last night and I’m anticipating a 9:00 lights out tonight considering I’ll be up at 5:00 to dress my wounds and head out again. The bandaged knees didn’t work so well today and I think did more hard than good. Tomorrow I go with the liquid band-aids on the inside knees and see how that works. I’ve heard of success with this method.

This was me at the end of the day.

Hope all is humming along at home in Connecticut. I heard the weather was crappy there today, but I guess after what was a stunning weekend a little rain must fall. The rain’s not falling here, and I am truly getting a cowboy tan. Not a farmer tan. Apparently there IS a difference. Farmer tans are with short-sleeved shirts and cowboy tans are the face and hands only. Mine is a cowboy tan as the sun is so strong you need to keep the long sleeves on all day. I think you’d actually be hotter without it on. It does cool down quite nicely at night and it’s quite chilly in my room by morning.



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