So – I can hardly believe it’s been several months since my last communiqué – and you can probably hardly believe you are even reading one – always supposing that there is still someone out there who will be reading it!!
But, in all seriousness, you would not have wanted to be reading anything I would have written in the last couple of months, seeing as it was definitely not the most favorite, nor enjoyable, time of my life.
First of all, I had a knee replacement, which was long overdue, and of course, put off for as long as possible. Finally, I was listing to one side so much that the surgery became urgent, and so I braved myself for yet another stint at a hospital…. such a miserable interruption to your life and daily routine! However, this time I thought I was in for a quick surgery and a swift recovery – a snip, nothing to it!! And why?? Because, some time before, I had visited my step-daughter and son-in-law, who had just had his knee replaced, and, of course, I totally managed to misunderstand his time table, probably proving the old adage that you hear what you want to hear! I heard him to say that he had had that surgery a week ago
… and there he was, walking around the house with a cane, admittedly, but pretty limber for all that. And then, a mere week later, again there he was, without any cane, of course without a limp … and so, encouraged, I set my time table by him.
I had the surgery, and confidently waited that, a week later, I would be running around the house like a young goat, riding a horse a week after that…. But, as Gerry used to say, not only no, but HELL, NO! I came to find out that Art’s surgery had been, in fact, several weeks prior to the date I thought, and that things were not going be as rosy as envisioned.
So … I spent a good part of two months moping around being miserable, the main cause of the misery being that you have to do that dreaded (to me) activity called “physiotherapy” – hateful phrase. At first it’s not so bad – after a day in the hospital – I had surgery on Monday, was home by Wednesday – they send you home with a machine that lays on the bed, you stick your foot in it, turn it on, and hey presto, it slowly brings your knee up, bends the leg, slowly returns it to the prone position – quite hypnotic. You can read, or you can sit there and watch your leg being exercised for twenty minutes or so, all without effort, increasing the angle more each day or two, giving you a false sense of achievement and success. But, inevitably, they take the thing away, and then it is up to you and the visiting physiotherapist lady, whose most memorable pronouncement to me was “You have to bend the knee more each day, and each day the window of opportunity is closing”, meaning that the damn thing doesn’t want to bend back, and that if you don’t force it, painfully, it will remain stiff for ever – a horrid thought. Ah well – suffice to say that now it bends back almost as far back as the original, doesn’t hurt, and, my friends tell me, I am walking straight again, that is, not listing to the off side like a sinking ship.
Luckily I had some help – my godson John, a 19 year old boy from the Czech Republic, came to spend four months here in order to perfect his English, and he was most helpful during the worst time, fetching stuff and bringing food, and so forth. And then, some of you may remember wrangler Thomas from Grapevine? He phoned me one day and said that he had quit his wrangling job in Texas and was passing through on the way north and could he stop in. Of course I said yes, would love to see you! He came, and not alone, but accompanied by a new girl friend, a beautiful and charming girl by name of Molly, who was not only good company, but also proved herself to be a godsend in cooking some great meals (you probably realize that most 19 year old boys, unless they are about to enter chef school, are not the best as cooks?) and I enjoyed a couple of weeks of great company and tasty food. Inevitably, though, Thomas and Molly left on their trek north, and in due course, John also departed for home, and I was left to my own cooking and devices. And so – after 30 years of great Grapevine meals, let me just say that I lost some 15-20 lbs and in fact, managed to weigh less than I did when I was 15. Not a desirable state of affairs at my age – things start to wrinkle and sag – ugh! Finally, at the worst of times, I discovered a local restaurant which serves liver and onions, one of my favorite dishes, and so I take myself off there at least once a week for a decent meal – and then try to scrape by as best I can the rest of the time, boring though it may be.I was, however, able to take part in the spring and summer round-ups and do the branding – without the crutch. The fall works, when we pregnancy test the cows and give them their annual immunizations, went off without a hitch, although we almost had a repeat of a tragedy that befell us once several years back. At that time, while working the cattle through the chute, a crazy heifer reared up and stuck her head up through the top of the chute, and thrashed around so wildly that she got herself trapped up there, and before we could do anything to help, she hanged herself – it was awful, as you can imagine. After that we installed a big cover on top of the chute so that the cattle can’t see the daylight up there, and for several years, things went smoothly. Until this year – the rubber lid on top had developed some slits in it, and we had not one, but two idiots rear up like that, and try to do their best to repeat the suicide trick – luckily without succeeding. Of course, some repairs to the top of the chute were necessary in the middle of the works, which held us up, and made it a long and tiring day. But – it could undoubtedly have been worse.
I think that last time I told you about Tommy, our new, expensive young bull, bought specially for the breeding of the heifers, as he is guaranteed to throw a small birth weight calf. It seems that he has done his job and the girls are all taken care of, but the funny thing is that their little herd still sticks together, Tommy often lying around enjoying the sun in the middle of his harem – the girls now all looking settled and happy, not flighty flibbertigibbets as before, but handsome, serene and contented young matrons. Soon we will have to have another round up – this time in early January, to bring them all into the Cochise Pasture, so we can give them some supervision during calving time.
And you may remember our baby filly, Ayita, born the day after Pearl Harbor Day? She is extremely well conformationed, though she has remained a boring sorrel – her sire is black, and always throws color, they tell me. Well, this time I guess he couldn’t be bothered, and she has remained sorrel, with two short white socks on the hind legs and a squiffy sort of blaze on her forehead. But what he didn’t give her in color, her dam gave her in evil, as the stud is also famously good natured. Good natured Ayita is not – although we had haltered her the day she was born, and taught her to lead and turn, and all the good, useful stuff – at about 4 months or a bit later, she suddenly decided she didn’t want to hear of a halter and we had about as much work trying to get that fixed as if we had never done it at birth. And then she developed a most evil habit, one that I had never come across in a foal before. She began to be very aggressive and hateful when we brought her grain – go figure that one! Instead of being grateful and happy that she was about to get goodies, she would pin her ears back, bare her teeth, turn her back on the bearer of the goodies and do her best to kick, bite and strike. This resulted, of course, in several quick disciplinary actions, like the time when Steve, when she kicked out at him, swiftly throwing the empty feed bucket at her, hitting her on the bum. It was instant punishment, but didn’t do much good – the ear pinning and teeth baring went on, until finally, on the advice of a horsey friend of Steve’s in the UK, we withdrew the foal rations, leaving her to hay only. Slowly the behavior modified – in fact, is now almost normal. I wonder what goes on inside a horse’s head to be hateful when you are being good to it? (On second thoughts, not so different to the behavior of some people, wouldn’t you agree? The “no good deed shall go unpunished” theory?) But, as I said several times, this is one horse on whose back I will not be clamoring to climb too soon – perhaps never.And I guess I will end this by giving you a report on the Two Amigos, that is, Comanche and Tequila, my two good old boys. They are inseparable now – well, at least on the part of Comanche, who can’t stand for Tequila to be out of his sight. Tequila, on the other hand, philosophically takes life as it comes, friend or no friend. The other day Danny couldn’t find him. He finally thought to look into my front yard – and there Tequila was, happily chewing on the still green grass around the frequently watered ex-Christmas tree. Those of you who have been to my house will know that to do this he had to step down a step, through a narrow gate, cross a paved patio, go through another narrow gate and then negotiate past various flower pots and bird feeders – but not to worry, there he was, calmly dining, and, when Danny exclaimed “Tequila!! What are you doing here!!!” he looked as if it was his rightful place, and please leave me be. Danny said he thought we’d best be closing the gate, or he would be stepping down into my porch entryway next – and who knows – the living room perhaps? They enjoy the life of Riley – both get special feed, as befits their advancing years – and after breakfast, the gate to their corral is left open, so they are free to roam around the yard, getting into trouble. They generally begin by visiting the other corrals, passing the time of day with the other horses, and then meander down to the creek bed by the roping arena where the grass is still green. By about 2 pm they work their way back up to the yard and optimistically hang around the feed room, probably hoping that the door will magically open and they can help themselves. It’s nice to be able to make their retirement years happy ones!
So – I promise to get back to the normal routine, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving …. and talk to you again soon!!