I am constantly amazed at how little time I have these days!! To think that once I used to leap out of bed at 6 in the morning, ride Comanche to Grapevine, spend the day at the office, come home at 3, take the goats, sheep, dogs, and Comanche for a ride/walk, get Gerry settled for the evening, drive back to Grapevine for dinner and visit with guests until 9 or 10 pm – how did I do all that? They say that work expands into the time available, and boy, is that ever the truth! Maybe the secret were those wonderful meals conjured up by the kitchen, and the energy thus provided. These days the highlight of my culinary day is a sandwich that Danny buys for me in Sunsites, if he has occasion to go there, or, like today, a tasty can of BBQ beans heating on the stove as I speak. So – to return to the opening statement – what happens to my time??? I still get out of bed at the same time – mind you, not exactly leap, more like crawl, but the time frame is essentially the same. One of the mysteries of life….
Round up went well – the cattle gathered up nicely, and we branded some good looking calves. A few months back Steve and I went to the Wilcox bull sale and were so impressed that I decided to keep back some specially well conformationed bull calves – the total came to 14 and I guess that out of that we should be able to get about 4-5 exceptional ones, suitable for the bull sale. The rest can be sold as bulls in the normal auction – still will probably do better than if sold as steers. (Just goes to prove that a little bull goes a long way…… Sorry!)After round up we had a sad time, as it became increasingly more obvious that my beloved horse, Tequila, had reached the limit of his time on earth. He had been growing steadily thinner and, while he ate with a good appetite, the food was just running through him, and it was only a mater of time before he went down. As the end, in horses, is so often accompanied by painful colic, all too often in the middle of the night when no help is available, I made the decision to get our good veterinarian, Dr. Gary, to come out and put him down. By great good luck I had to be in Tucson that day, but Danny told me that he went down easily, and that, as they led him away to where the hole had been dug, all the horses lined up at their corral fences and whinnied. How do they know? And how sad – I remember when we had to put down Gerry’s horse, Cloudy, at the end of several hours of mind numbing, painful colic, when, after the vet finally arrived and gave him a strong pain shot, and he was led away, all the horses then also lined up and whinnied. I remember that he whinnied back and, as he went, a huge full moon rose over the Chiricahuas. It was something I will never forget, and so I was happy that I had to be in Tucson this time. A loyal, dependable, wonderful horse, my Tequila. I hope that he will wait for me up there, somewhere, and that we ride together again.
We had been in a considerable worry about how Comanche would react, given that they were inseparable, and that Comanche couldn’t stand having Tequila out of his sight. Amazingly, he whinnied some, but not as much as we expected, and we decided that his fussing and whinnying was mainly his concern for Tequila and that he worried when he couldn’t see him. Now he knew what happened, he knew Tequila was safe, and he accepted it. Again, I was relieved that Tequila was spared that awful, colicky end, as so many horses have to endure – in fact, he had never, ever had colic in his life – lucky horse! He was, to the best of my recollection, about 30 years old, so, a good age for a horse. Now Comanche’s corral mate is my other horse, little Waylon, and they seem to be getting along just fine.Something a bit happier concerning my animal family – you know my pups, who are now, as Steve said, no longer pups, but young dogs – sleep on the bed with me?? This was kind of cute when they were teeny tiny, but now they have grown extremely long legged so that, when standing up – or stretched out on the bed – they’re easily well over 4ft, this not leaving much room on the bed for me – it is, after all, only queen size! But, once done, things are not so easily undone, or, as some bard once said, almost everything is easier to get into than to get out of. So here they are, night after night, happily ensconced on the bed, snoring away. But some time back I noticed something odd – every morning Bella wakes up on the absolute dot of 6 am. Not one minute to 6, not 1 minute after, but exactly at 6 am. This morning, for example, she stirred around at around five to six, snuffled around Buster, stretched, yawned, and I thought well, this morning it won’t work … but no – at exactly 6 am, she opened her eyes wide, jumped up and with a big doggy smile, leaped on my face, to make sure I also knew it was time to rise and shine! A mystery, to be sure. How does she know it ???!!! Buster, on the other hand, doesn’t bother waking up until after his breakfast is placed under his nose, and, of course, on the bed. Then he looks at it disdainfully, gazes off into space, yawns, looks at it again, and you can almost hear him saying “Urgh, the slops they feed me!” Eventually, he examines the food again, takes a tentative nibble, then takes a little mouthful, and, after a good many minutes, eats his breakfast, leisurely tasting every bit, as befits a well raised, gentlemanly dog. In the meantime, Bella has breathed hers in, and is dancing around the bed saying “I’ll have it. I’ll have if you don’t want it, I’ll have it…!”
You may remember our little filly, Ayita, who is now almost three years of age? She has grown, not only in size, but sadly, also in evil habits, and she is a horse to be reckoned with. We have put her and her corral mate, Joey, into the big arena in order that Ayita has more room to run that she had in the corral, and Chris and I found the other day that you take your life in your hands feeding those two. Both of them get special horse feed, as Joey had been ill and Ayita had had a mysterious episode where she had lost some weight. She has regained the weight, and with it her evil temper, and now, when you get in there with their special feed, you have to contend with her dancing around you, trying to kick Joey, trying to kick at you, trying to get both the food buckets, so that yesterday morning we decided, enough! They are both fat, so enough already with the special feed – eat hay! Life is now not only more pleasant, but also undoubtedly safer – and in truth, neither of them need that special feed any more. Joey is almost obese and Ayita looks well rounded, and only too well equipped with an evil temper. I am beginning to think she is the result of another ill considered decision of mine, and that she will have to go – to be a hardworking ranch horse with many daily miles under the saddle may be just the ticket for her, and she won’t get that here, with as many horses as we have.
And the weather has been uber nasty this year – although Danny tells me that it is a normal year…. I can hardly believe it. It seems that every day the wind blows, and blows and blows, with no relief in sight – but it could be that in years past I was too busy doing other stuff to notice it too much. It is a fact, though, that we almost need that spring wind to make the summer rains come, and so, considered in that light, blow away!! We need that rain! It has been so dry this year that in the Flats, three of the four water tanks have dried up, and we have had to install a water trough with well water on the fence line, so the cattle don’t have to go so far away to drink. Mind you, there are ranches where the water tanks are 10 miles or more apart, but our cows are spoiled – it’s only about three miles or so at most between water tanks, and we feel they are hard done by if they have to travel too far. At the same time, it is an indisputable fact that the further they have to walk, the more energy they will expend on it, and the less weight they will put on – and the less milk they will produce. Truly, if you are a compulsive worrier, there is no better career for you than to own a cattle ranch! No shortage of available worries to keep you awake at night…And, as if the lack of water wasn’t enough, the other day something, we are not sure what, started a fire on the south end of the ranch, by the Middlemarch gate. Almost immediately, helicopters with water appeared, followed by fixed wing aircraft dumping fire retardant, but it was still a worrying time – and the result about a half mile of burnt fence, which will now have to be replaced, at some cost.
Finally, here is an update on our Sarah and her busted up face. She had to have another surgery, this time on her nose, but she is progressing well, and I hear that she hopes to be able to return to work before too long. And, further along with that, Butch, who had left his job at the same ranch a few years back, and returned to his old factory job in Pennsylvania, has seen the light, and returned to us in Arizona, and is back in his old job – just in time to cover for Sarah. I bet the management of the “In Balance Ranch” was happy to see him arrive! Anyway, we wish Sarah all the best with her recovery, and her return to work.
So on this happy note I will leave you – say a prayer for us that we get rain, lots and lots of it, and soon…..