Monday, June 29

sheepherders are fun

so here i am, monday morning. made it through the 26th annual powder river sheepherder's fair, and what a good time it was.

the weekend really started with friday night, during which i had to work at the church from 5:30 to 10:30, and after which natasha texted me and wanted to know if i was going out. since i bailed on her (because of bad mood) the previous weekend, i figured i'd go out and say hello. (she's been at basic training for national guard for a while now). so i get to the bar at 11 and meet up with friends casey, brian, molly and stuart and commence to sip my pendleton. (that was my bartender gavin's choice for me that night, i guess. i didn't have any say in the matter). long story short, natasha never showed up and i spent a lot of money in a hurry. that'll happen when you buy all your friends several rounds of shots. :-P we all crashed at casey's and the next morning i got a ride back to my truck and proceeded to powder river after gathering a few clothing items and blankets for sleeping in my truck (but i should have grabbed more. i woke up freezing about 4 sunday morning).

roommate amanda was already out there, so i joined her behind the bar to begin my official position as bartender. by the end of the night all the guys would address me as 'barkeep.' we had budweiser and bud light on tap, and i'm now a pro at pouring beer. that foam can be a challenge sometimes. we must have been good bartenders, because we went through at least five kegs that afternoon and i used up the remainder of them that night and on sunday.

we served the beer in a quonset hut, where it was nice and shady with a nice breeze, and the bar was next to the t-shirt table and across from the food stand, so it was a pretty good location to catch everybody coming through. i got to put a lot of faces with names this weekend, as everybody there stopped by to get a beer at least once. working for the paper, i hear about a lot of people, but don't necessarily know who they are.

throughout the afternoon there were various competitions relating to sheep going on in the arena outside, like sheep hooking, team ewe doctoring, ribbon roping and sheep dog trials (where the handler's on the ground) and stock dog trials (where the handler works with the dog from a horse). it's great, because it's just a community even where everybody knows everybody and they all come together, young and old and in-between, and have a good time competing and laughing at each other when they screw up.

jake hooking a sheep in the team ewe doctoring competition. there are three people. one person ropes/hooks, one person ties the feet and one person takes the collar and bell off the ewe and runs across the finish line.

manda had to leave shortly after the free bbq dinner was served, because of conflicts with boyfriend. speaking of bbq, i ate a lot of good beef over that weekend. the guy serving lunch concessions gave me a big ol' plate of beef ribs, then there was the bbq brisket for dinner. i wasn't really that hungry by dinner time, but i couldn't pass that up. and for some reason the cole slaw really hit the spot, too.

and i was doing pretty good all afternoon/evening, because i had absolutely no alcoholic beverages. it really had more to do with my stomach remembering the night before whenever i thought about it. but then by the time dinner was over i went to my truck and fixed myself up with some pendleton and water in a nalgene, but it was still pretty watered down. many people looked at me funny when they saw me putting water and ice in my cup, but then they'd be like 'that's not beer, is it?' and i'd be like, 'nope, pendleton.' and they'd be like, 'there's a girl with good taste.' :-)

on saturday afternoon brian was walking around with a cup of ice, water and black velvet. whenever he passed the bar he'd ask, 'bartender want another drink?'

the band started playing around 8, i think. by 9 or so everybody'd gathered back inside from their various trucks and trailers and then the fun began. part of the crowd i knew from before, and the other part of the crowd i'd gotten to know all day long, so it ended up a lot of fun. brand inspector trav whittman and wife were there, friend eddie, scott martinez - yes, friend G's cousin, jake, casey, brian, molly... oh! and my very-much-NOT-friend jodee showed up. she didn't stay very long and didn't even try to come get a beer. then there were new friends curt, jared hendry, old man bob britton and two sons (bob tricked me into a kiss over the bar and embarassed his one son very badly), hendry's hired men malcom and andrew (who wore a white shirt and royal purple silk scarf with black felt hat and looked very nice, but he already has a girl), horse packer ross who's riding from cody to las cruces this summer, and many other people. needless to say, i did get to spend some time on the dance floor. :-)

jared hendry and malcom worked the arena throughout the two days. jared's horse sulled up on him later sunday and they put a pretty good bend in a tube gate.

one of bob britton's sons bridling their mustang. they live over at lysite.

the nice thing about being bartender is that's where everyone congregates, so at the end of the night everybody was leaning on or around the bar and we were all having a good ol' time. everybody thinks pendleton is the best whiskey around, so my little red nalgene was passed around quite a bit and i had to go for a refill before the end of the night.

despite the whiskey, i was the most sober one there come 12:30 when the band quit and we shut the doors, so i fired up the old ford and gave friends eddie and scott a ride out to trav's cattle camp, just past hell's half acre, where they were working for the weekend. and jared rode along, too, not really sure why, so i had three guys as big as me in the cab of my truck. three of us in front (jared on the console) and one in back, eddie, who i think sat on my hat.

so jared and i returned to powder river, he bedded down in the hammock in his horse trailer and i put the back seat down and crawled into my truck. pancake breakfast the next morning started at 7 and i got around about 7:30. i decided i really really need to get my truck windows tinted because that would make changing my clothes a lot easier. :-) but, i did not get any pancake breakfast because i did not have $3, so i joined jake, star and star's little brother hawk for a tailgate breakfast, which consisted of a sausage-egg scramble cooked in a hub cap (no joke) over a coleman grill on star's tailgate. oh, and served up with a pepsi can fashioned into a scoop. it did the trick, tho. in jake's words: that'll make a turd.

the beer business wasn't nearly as brisk all day sunday, so i didn't spend much time behind the bar. i did wander the grounds visiting with people, and getting people refills when they needed them, especially trent, who's very ranchy-looking, and malcom. i got another free lunch from the food stand guy, this time soft-shell tacos that had tempted me the day before, and spent a good amount of time on the bleachers with various people, taking in the day's competition and getting some photos for the paper.

ross, who's the one packing from cody to las cruces to raise money for st. jude's children's hospital. shown here with one of his mules, a part of his four-animal string.

i left good ol' powder river about 4 p.m., and good thing i did, because not long after i got back to town i crashed, big time. i was so worn out and sunburnt and exhausted. but, i did not go to sleep before friend D had the chance to stop by and say hello. good to see him, had been a while.

and that was my weekend with the sheepherders. success, good time was had by all, except for manda's drama. it's too bad she had to go home. i suspect i'll be back for the 27th annual. :-)

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