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Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
While the cows are out east in the sands, Nick spends most of his time monitoring the water and fences in those pastures. This means he's gone most of the time and often doesn't return until nearly dark. There isn't cell service out east, so you mostly just have to trust that he'll come back.

That's what we were doing this afternoon at headquarters, as the rain gauges were filling to numbers I didn't think possible here (1.9" and counting right now). Then this decrepit-yet-stately figure ambles subtly into the office, having left a drowned motor bike over a mile away. 

In recounting his tale, Nick harkened back to the anime' movie Spirited Away that we watched at May Camp during the winter months, "There's a scene where the spirit world gets flooded, and everything is washed away; that's what this felt like." 

We're all glad he's alive. 
Posted by Kathryn B. on 08/07/2013

Now Let Me Just Tell You One Thing...
Category: Live from the Ranch
Above, you see a picture of Cora, 8-year-old daughter of horse guru Cam Schryver, talking to Duke Beardsley, western artist and auxiliary Duke. I haven’t asked either Beardsley or Cora exactly what wisdom she is sharing here, but I imagine it to be either some sage advice or probing question.

Earlier that day, Cora and I were riding near each other to gather the herd to a corner for branding. At one point, she moseys over. Though her legs are only about halfway down her mare’s belly, the two of them are entirely convinced that she’s capable and in charge. She looks at me and says, “Now let me just tell you one thing. If there’s a cow without her calf, and she doesn’t want to come with us, we shouldn’t push her. We should just leave her there instead of fighting with her.”

She is, of course, completely right. And though I didn’t recall having made such an error, I have a suspicion that I must have. And if I did, she corrected me without being condescending, which I always appreciate.

Reports have reached me that she later asked about our cattle terminology. We have a couple different types of cow on the ranch, the Beefmasters and the commercial herd, which is a conglomeration of different types of cattle that have been picked up over the years and bred with our Beefmaster bulls. That second group is slowly homogenizing into the Beefmasters with each generation, but for now they are generically called “commercial”.

Cora hadn’t encountered this term before, so she came up to Lizzie on our second branding day, brow furrowed, and asked, “Why are they called commercial? Are you going to take them to be on the radio or something?” Great question, Cora. I see your logic there.

Lizzie explained the distinction with a decidedly straight face, and Cora rode off again, a bit closer to possessing a complete understanding of cattle work and horsemanship by the time she reaches double digits.
Posted by Kathryn B. on 06/29/2013

Spring has sprung, and it brought puppies.
Category: Live from the Ranch

This picture shows two of the best things about spring: green grass and baby animals. 

 

I was charmed by the winter here; it felt ageless and permanent.

 

But it wasn’t. The past few days, the trees finally started budding, and some grass appears bold enough to invest in new growth. The crafty momma cows have carefully picked out the sporadic patches of remaining nutrition all winter and now have fat and glossy calves to show for it.

 

 

For those of you who are familiar with the ranch dogs, these are a happy accidental mix of Allen’s Dew and Jonathan’s Oakley.

 

Posted by Kathryn B. on 05/18/2013

Slickers and Sombreros
Category: Live from the Ranch

In denial of today’s 85-degree weather, let us harken back to that magical day when water came from the sky.

This photo captures Harper practicing his great passion—skill acquisition. Here, our slicker-clad hero works on flinging himself upon a compliant Elmo without the aid of stirrup, bucket, or running jump. This particular (failed) attempt resulted in a determined shake of his head and a resignation that—along with the momentum of that massive boot—brought him triumphantly on his pink steed.
 

Twas an all around jovial day. 


Posted by Kathryn B. on 05/14/2013

Toyotarty (get it?)
Category: Live from the Ranch
How many cowboys does it take to bleed a clutch?  In this case, seven. 

Teamwork, ladies and gents.
Posted by Kathryn B. on 05/02/2013

No Human or Porcupine Is Safe
Category: Live from the Ranch

Duke Jr.—sneaky as a drone but more deadly.

Posted by Kathryn B. on 03/28/2013

Triangulating Cholla
Category: Live from the Ranch

This is a picture from last week of Stuart drawing a pasture for the Fountain Valley first-years to gather. Becoming comfortable navigating these 87,200 acres takes a matter of months. I remember looking at a similar Stuart Phelps picture my first week at the Chico. It filled in a small and vaguely rectangular puzzle piece on the blurry map in my head.

 

After five months without any staff changes, it’s wonderful to see the ranch through the eyes of newcomers--whether guests, high schoolers, friends, or our new intern Zan. Wrapped up in the navigational confusion is a wonder at the vastness and beauty of the prairie, which—overshadowed by the mountains—tends to escape people’s awareness. Monday morning, as Harper left the bunkhousehome to work in the leather shop at 6:00, Zan declared the Chico a fairyland where people can make leather purses before going on a ride in the fresh snow.

 

After being here six months (and three days), I find myself in awe of the land and its critters at least as frequently as when I first arrived. But now I generally know where I am on the ranch when it happens, and that’s nice.

Posted by Kathryn B. on 03/27/2013

Anarchy in North Pasture
Category: Live from the Ranch

Sometimes, while checking pastures, the electric fence will be down. You can generally assume that some animal ran through it, but you never know for sure which ones—antelope, horse, cow, giant rabbit.

 

Not so yesterday. As I was scooting along through North Pasture, learning about the Cypriot crisis from the radio, I thought to myself, hmm—there is no longer a wire on these posts. This is not as it should be.  A solidly 100yd stretch had been taken off the fiberglass posts and strewn into Double Tank pasture. An incriminating tuft of white fur was wrapped tightly onto the wire. Lo and behold, these two—the wild horse/unicorn of North Pasture and her gorgeous colt were about 200’ away, taunting me as I repaired their damage.

 

Pictured above is a markedly bare fiberglass post and the vandals responsible for it.

Posted by Kathryn B. on 03/26/2013

   
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