Last week we had a special visit from my parents. They drove all the way from Idaho to Iowa pulling a gooseneck trailer with six horses in it, dropping off two at our place, staying overnight and spending the next day with us, then continuing on their way to two other siblings’ homes to deliver the rest of the horses. After 50 + years of ranching, my parents are finally retiring, selling their ranch and cattle, giving away most of their twenty-some horses and mules, and buying a house in town and a travel trailer to enjoy some southern winters and visits to grandkids.
Branding smoke….a fragrance that isn’t likely to be bottled and marketed by Dior or AirWick anytime soon, but nontheless a smell that evokes strong memories, pulling me into a reminiscent state of mind. I started helping brand calves when I was five years old, back when getting to go along for daily ranch work alongside my dad and siblings was what I lived for. Considering that a normal five year old would probably recoil at the sight of what goes on at a branding, I admit my abnormality of looking forward to branding days when I was a kid.
Last weekend we took our cows out west where I grew up. From here, it’s a four hour ride in a car…a six hour ride for a cattle pot and truck and trailer with seven people packed into the crew cab. Saturday was one long hectic day. But it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time, because to me it meant going home.
You might be surprised at how often I question my own common sense when it comes to owning horses. We have five now, and that puts both me and Cowboy Dad in a sort of panic to justify the expense and trouble that we go to in order to keep them. I think many of my readers believe that I live on a massive expanse of Western range, complete with howling coyotes and grazing cattle, where I train horses all day, bake my family a luscious dinner in my country kitchen, and ride off into the sunset with the love of my life. Well, I hate to ruin that impression, but to tell it a little more accurately….
When I was a kid, my favorite days were the long summer ones when we spent the day horseback. There was always something to do around the ranch…either moving cattle to a different pasture, checking the wells to make sure there was adequate water, or riding colts always prevented boredom from overtaking us. But I can think of some stories when we just had too much time on our hands.
It’s been a great July so far! I’ve been spending a lot of time in my garden lately. It’s the time of year when the young plants are trying to bear, and the weeds are often getting the better of things. This is when I usually lose control of it and give up, just wading through the weeds to pick vegetables here and there. But I’m trying to keep up with it this time around….hence, I haven’t had much time for my blogging.
I have a friend here visiting from Australia for a couple of months, and we went horseback riding yesterday. It’s finally starting to warm up here in the midwest, and with warm breezes beckoning, we put on our riding boots and headed out to the farm.