Aww, the smell of fresh coffee brewing can bring this girl right out of a deep sleep any day on the ranch. My husband, Jim, and I have made a deal, that whoever is the first one up makes coffee and brings the other his or her coffee in bed. Well, I guess I gave it away that Jim gets up before me. More times than not, that is the case. Our deal works out well. We usually meet up every morning in the winter by our dear fireside and in the summer on the front porch. We always enjoy the beginning of our day together. Our days are not run on a schedule, and we are not slave to a time clock. We go to work happily, always ready to face the tasks that the day may bring.
The idea of being ‘your own boss’ is a romantic notion to most, but being self employed makes you productive. We answer to ourselves and to one another, then live with the consequences if the work goes undone.
On any given day of the week the cows must be fed and the livestock water levels checked. One such day as we were going about that day’s agenda, our eyes were drawn to a far reaching shadow just when a mighty golden eagle, atop of the windmill tower, swooped down and made a low pass right in front of our pickup windshield. Wow! Was that ever thrilling!
Another time, I recall, I was closing a wire cross-fence gate when out of nowhere a charging buffalo jumped the gate I had just barely shut. That female barreled by just a few feet within my feed truck door. Thank God for His watching over me, because I had left the door open; that was my saving grace. Wow! Talk about getting your heart rate up!
On occasion, the cattle need gathered and moved to different pastures. One such July evening, my son, Tyler, and I were caught in a driving cold rainstorm. We finished the job, even though the rain was coming down so hard we were covered in welts left by the hard pelting raindrops. Soaked through to the skin, we were so cold we were unable to talk because of our chattering teeth. After we were able to reach the shelter of our pickup and trailer, let me tell you, we cranked that heater up to ‘HIGH’ as we headed for the house that July evening. I couldn’t wait, so I proceeded to pull off those wet boots, pour out that ice cold water, all the while with Tyler shivering, almost uncontrollably, as he drove dodging deep mud holes and fording the draws that had become rivers. I know how that rider felt in Frederick Remington’s rendition of the stampede. Yet another recollection of our ranch life together was a time when Jim and I were gathering cows. I had left the comfort of the caking pickup to follow two of the last cows in order to shut the gate behind them while Jim closed the trap gate. All of a sudden that last cow got the notion to turn, come at me in a dead run with her head down low preparing to send me airborne. What was I to do but stand my ground and pray that she would not toss me. At the last second, she chickened out, did an about face and jumped the gate that Jim had just closed. Wow! That was too close for my comfort.
Then there are those middle of the night phone calls from the Sheriff. They always seem to occur on the coldest winter nights. I can’t tell you how many times we have received such calls telling us that someone just drove through our fence along the highway. We appreciate those helpful phone calls. Boy, I wish I had a hundred dollars for every time someone run through theUniverse fence, and no one called. Jim and Tyler hate to stretch wire in the cold, because wire doesn’t stretch- it breaks.
‘Fixin’ fence on a hot summer day at the backside of the pasture is not so bad, and I am no stranger to wire stretchers and dogs or to the ’double wrapped’ method of wiring barbed wire on old brittle cedar posts that won’t hold a staple. The grand sweep of a majestic high plains sunset as a backdrop to the fence stretching off to the far horizon is an artist dream. The little creatures that one sees out on the range, like a baby Horned Toad that is no bigger than my thumbnail is just one of God’s creatures that is a sight to behold as is two big adult males fighting for territorial rights.
Being a self-employed rancher is a lot of work and requires every member of our family to work together in order to accomplish all that needs to be done. Sometimes, the task at hand is beyond our means, so we must work long and hard hours. Some days we may not accomplish much if anything at all. On the days when much is accomplished, it is extremely gratifying knowing that we have given it our best. Tomorrow is always another day and a new beginning here on the ranch. Living here on the ranch, we feel so close to God. Our appreciation of All He created allows our family to enjoy that which others rarely have the chance to experience. Ranch life suits my family. We feel we are blessed.