I sure wish we could trade places with the UK this winter – I hear from our friend Steve that they are having endless rains, with houses flooding, and pastures so waterlogged that horses can’t be turned out for fear of some leg condition that I, living here in this dry desert, haven’t even ever heard of … while we sit here, dry as a bone, with endless blue skies, fairly warm winter temperatures, and no rain in sight. But, lest you envy us, just remember that this dryness has a price tag, too – the tank waters are getting dangerously low, and we have every prospect of having to water the cattle on the Flats from the house well – horrid thought. Luckily the mountain pastures of the Noonan Canyon do have the Dead Calf Well, which can supply water to the herd even if South Fork Tank goes dry, which it sure looks like doing – and as for the Lake (so optimistically named) it is just about dry. And to think that I remember, in the 90’s and beyond, the Lake being so full year round that it backed way up toward the Spooky Canyon, and we kept a boat on it, often went fishing – in fact, Carlos once caught 30 good sized fish in half an hour. No more…
And, while I am being downbeat, let me tell you about my latest wreck – haven’t had one for a while, actually, so I guess I was due. I was helping Chris feed the horses, had taken Comanche’s feed to the corral, and opened the gate so that old timer Tequila could go out and eat his “special” feed of water-soaked alfalfa pellets mixed with Senior and oats. For some reason that I couldn’t immediately see – but which turned out to be Tuffy dog sitting squarely and intractably in the middle of the gate, daring Tequila to go past her – he didn’t leave, but turned and instead began to eat Comanche’s ration, which I had, somewhat precipitately, dumped into his feeder. So now – fend off a horse who doesn’t have a halter so you can’t grab him in a Christian fashion to turf him out, and who doesn’t want to leave because of her nasty majesty planted in the middle of the gate – fight off Comanche, whose breakfast this legitimately is, and who feels hard done by to see it disappearing down the throat of his buddy – yell and scream – and …. trip over something just as Tequila leaves, and pitch headlong onto the dirt. Amazing what a long distance it is to down there – and how long it takes for your head to hit the deck from a height of only some 5 ft or so – could as well be a hundred – I remember every second! I got a mouthful of dirt and manure, which I am used to, but my right knee, my own, old, beloved original knee which I don’t want to part with, managed to hit the deck first and immediately began to clamor for attention. So now here I am, five days later, hobbling around on a crutch feeling sorry for myself. I know I told you this story already, but I will repeat it again, as I felt exactly the same way – once Gerry and I were stumbling our way down the side of the barn over some rough and uneven ground, when he tripped – probably caught his spur on something – and fell. “My God” I yelled, “are you all right”? “I don’t know”, Gerry grumped, “I haven’t got here yet!” Well, that’s how I feel now – I haven’t got there yet – my knee still hurts, and that damn dog still waylays the horses!
And in case you wondered why I haven’t mentioned Danny in this drama, let me tell you that he caught about the worst case of ‘flu anyone could catch, and has been home for the past 14 days. Chris went to see him the other day and says that it looks as if he lost at least 10 lbs, and looks awful. I have forbidden him on pain of death to set foot here for the next week or two yet, as I know he was really, really ill. How do I know that? Because he actually went to see the doctor – and anyone knowing this hardy cowboy breed, would know that’s bad indeed.
Talking of the flu, our Jimmy also caught it, and has been in bed, without benefit of any doctor, for the best part of the last 3-4 weeks. Of course, as he smoked for so many years, and, I found out today, still does (!!) his breathing is really affected, and he can hardly get from his chair to the door.
And, since I wrote the last paragraph, there have been nasty developments with Jimmy. He felt so bad and was so short of breath that he couldn’t even leave his bed, and finally his friend Deb, who used to work at Grapevine also, called the ambulance. They dragged him into it, kicking and screaming, and just in good time, as it turned out, as it is actually his heart. The ambulance took him first to Wilcox Hospital where they diagnosed more than they wanted to deal with there, and he was sent onto the Tucson Medical Center Cardiology Unit. It turned out that the swelling of his belly and feet that he had been vaguely mentioning, is caused by water accumulation due to serious heart problems – so that’s where he is right now … and still asking for cigarettes! Deb has been in to see him every day for the past couple of days, and is going back tomorrow, as they are doing some kind of procedure to drain the water from around his heart and his feet – and if there are medical people out there reading this, wondering what idiot wrote it, let me tell you that I am not a bit interested in the inner workings of the body. In my opinion, it gives it an undue idea of its own importance – so, speaking for me, the less I know, the better … and I am sticking to that!
And so I read something interesting the other day – can’t vouch for it being true, but hey – it was in print, so it has to be true… And that is that the reason dogs turn around several times before they lay down is because, the clever little beasties, they are orientating themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. The same reason, the article said, accounts for the fact that cattle almost always graze pointing north – and you know, they do seem to do that, come to think of it. As to why the dogs should care, or why the grass should taste better that way, the article didn’t reveal – but I pass it on in the spirit of generous sharing of knowledge.
This brings to mind something from my childhood – my father was a scientist, and was often wont to bring out facts just like these, to the point that my little sister, about 7 years old at the time, once tartly informed him that he was “full of unnecessary information”. It is really too bad that, as one grows older, one has to descend from such lofty Olympian peaks of all wisdom…. eh, Jan??
And, talking of the doggies, my two munchkins are bringing me untold happiness – I think that Tuffy might disagree with this, but for me, they are an endless source of entertainment. For instance – they are litter mates, so, you would think, similar in actions and tastes?? Not so – take, for instance, their dining habits. In the morning I feed Tuffy in the kitchen, and, in the interest of world peace, take the two dishes with the puppy food into the bedroom. By the time I get there, Bella is dancing around the door, tongue swishing and slobbering, evidently half starved by the endless hours since the last meal ….. but Buster is peacefully dozing on the bed, with not even an eye open. I put Bella’s dish on the floor and she attacks it as if she hadn’t eaten for a week. Then I put Buster’s in front of him on the bed, under his very nose, if you please…. and he gives me a sleepy look, gazes out on the horizon beyond the window, sighs, as if thinking “such slops they offer me”…. and then looks at me with total disinterest. “Come on Buster”, I say, “eat your breakfast”. After, literally, a full minute or more, he daintily picks up one bit of dog food and nibbles his way around it, about the way I would eat cooked carrots. After another 10-20 seconds, he picks up another bit, disposes of that, and then, obviously now sadly convinced that nothing better – such as, perhaps, roast pheasant? – is forthcoming, eats his breakfast slowly, methodically, with the appearance of one considering the sad state of western civilization. I often have the distinct impression that he is reading “The Times” as he eats, pondering the condition of the world. Danny calls him The Professor – an apt nickname. He does eat it all, eventually – by which time Bella is jumping around, ready for course two – and then he curls up for another nap until he is rudely turfed out by me wanting to make the bed. Such funny dogs – they bring so much happiness into my life! Tuffy, who is , of course, along with my four personal horses – and now the pups – the love of my life, begs to differ… Although they all play together nowadays, I still think that she regards this invasion of rude, unmannerly juveniles into our hitherto orderly world as an unfortunate accident.
Please click on any of the images below to view full size versions and captions.
And this bring me to what is about to be the busiest two months of my life! Firstly, I have several friends, including a dear cousin from the Czech Republic, coming to stay with me, so all available beds, including ones in my own house, are full. Then, Sarah, the last Barn Boss of Grapevine, is getting married in Phoenix and, of course, a truckload of us from the ranch are going to the wedding. Were it not for my cousin, coming so fortuitously right in time – bless him! – I would not be able to go, as there would be nobody here to do the feeding. However, I do feel that to leave him saddled with the two puppy villains would be asking too much, so they are going for two days to stay with my friend Pam, who has a dog sitting business in Dragoon. After the wedding I am going to stay with my dearest friend Debbie, my erstwhile companion in New York and Vermont – who lives in Phoenix … so the beginning of next month promises to be busy. And of course, not long after that, the spring round up and the branding is upon us, and I just hope that by that time my knee is sufficiently well healed to enable me to scurry around the corral, branding iron in hand…. I don’t think I would do too well on a crutch!
And this reminds me how lucky I am that while Danny is sick, Chris is here. I really think that it would be difficult for me to do all the feeding 7 days a week, especially now, on a crutch! While Chris is in Canada during the summer, enjoying the balmy breezes of the north while we swelter here in our heat, I am THE one doing the weekend feeding alone while Danny is off, but it’s a long time to the summer and surely by then…
And on this optimistic note I will leave you – wishing you a lovely spring, hopefully the end of all that awful freezing cold weather back in the north-east … and send us some of your rain, you people in the UK!!