Monday, June 21

the weekend

the two days of this weekend were pretty busy, as my plans changed friday, with heather taking care of the chris ledoux dedication event in kaycee, so i left the office mid-afternoon friday to pack up some clothes and the puppies and retrieve my horses before heading up to the association.

turns out retrieving the horses was a several-hour affair, as friend jake had kicked them in the pasture up top of his rimrocks, and they're in a rowdy band of horses that's fond of running. let's just say the pups and i walked a lot. i did finally catch up to them, got them haltered and tied them to the hooks in my truck bed and trotted them back to the house to get the trailer, which, of course, had fallen off its chock block.

the faithful pups. for some reason foxy likes to sleep stuffed down around the center console, instead of stretched out in the back with plenty of space.

lucy's favorite thing is sitting on my lap and looking out the window.

i arrived at the association just as the sun set, and started watching 'yes man' until all the others got back from looking at pathfinder dam, which has been quite the draw over the last week. after not spilling for 26 years, and now spilling at a rate of 6,000 cubic feet per second, it's quite the novelty.

saturday morning we got an early start. our task was to gather a group of cows in a pasture and move them up on top of the rim - the same group of cows we'd brand the next day - so that another group could be trailed through the lower end to another pasture.

most of the cows were in this meadow, but we still had to ride around and check the corners and holes to gather the odds and ends. this meadow is in an area cut straight through by the oregon trail. you can still see the ruts heading up one of the bigger draws. it's something else to stand on those ruts and look around and imagine riding through there in a wagon with a team...

scott, jamie and i started out riding together.

jamie and i didn't know we were on a guided trial ride until we stopped on this hill and scott started pointing out all the mountain ranges :-)

scott and jamie in the bottom, waiting for a small bunch to catch up.

this is when we had the cows bunched and headed in the right direction.

after they were in the right area of the pasture we took a break before riding back down to the trailers.

the larson's cows moved through the bottom after we had everything else out of the way. the larsons, members of the association, run a stock contracting business, raising bucking bulls and horses. the bucking stock cows and calves summer at the association, as well as some of the horses. donna larson is harry vold's daughter. harry vold is well-respected among stock contractors and has been in the business for years.

our trailers were parked down at willow springs, a stage stop and key watering point for the oregon trail. it used to have three springs, and a journal entry on a little plaque said it had flowers and trees and was an oasis. no longer so, and all that's left is this tree and the foundation for the stage stop.

after getting the cows put where they needed to be on saturday scott and i left the ranch, swung by pathfinder so i could get some photos of the spillway and stopped for ice cream and a six-pack of bud light lime in alcova before heading to casper. in town i cleaned up and we headed to meet bob and becky at a favorite mexican restaurant - not sure how to spell the name - before heading to the short go of the college national finals rodeo. i had four tickets from the roundup, and scott used one and our meeteetse friends buck, shelly and their grandson courtney used the other three. they were also staying up at the association and helping with cows over the weekend. i got in on my media pass, and bob and becky had purchased their own.

after the rodeo scott helped me load up the roundup's newspaper stands, and we dropped them off and picked up some branding irons from trav's house, so by the time we got back to the ranch it was 11 and i went straight to bed, and was awakened to clouds and mist at 4:30 saturday morning. we were doubtful about the weather at that point, but ate breakfast and saddled and loaded the horses and headed back out to the pasture to bunch the cows again.

when we got to the edge of the rim the view looking off was kind of pretty. the big lump on the right is the west end of casper mountain.

here's the temporary corral set up for the branding, still lush with green grass.

the meeting of the minds. the pile of old fence posts was brought along for the branding fire.

my truck and bob's were the first in place as corral braces.

after an hour or so the fog and clouds did burn off, and the range up there was really pretty. it's very open and empty up there. i took this picture as april and i were riding our circle to close in on the cows. speaking of april - she had a fling with bob's redneck stud colt over the weekend - intentionally, on my part - and we'll see if she takes. i'm really hoping she does, because that's a pretty good match. still don't know the status on jazz, and won't know for a while yet.

got the cows bunched and headed toward the corral, with horse trailers set up as wings to funnel them inside.

the photos are a little crooked, as they were taken at a high trot or lope.

then we took some time to sort some cows out of the pen to make a little more space. scott and fiddler were in charge of roping escapee calves, of which there was one.

they brought the wayward calf back to the pen.

jamie's son kolby and buck's grandson courtney supervised the operation.

the fire was set up in the middle of the corral, and the vaccine cooler, eartags and other supplies were added to the mix.

jamie was kind enough to take some photos of me and scott when we got toward the end of the day.

i started out vaccinating, but soon paired up to wrestle calves most of the day. most of the time i wrestled with either bob or scott. this is their friend ryan, who works for a nearby ranch and came over once they'd finished up some lamb docking earlier in the day.

time to coil up the ropes. it was a long day, with inexperienced wrestlers and only two ropers. we could have used a few more hands, but it got done slow but sure, and the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze to keep the dust and bugs away and the temperature down, so it really wasn't all that bad. sure beats sitting in town, and there's nothing i would have rather done with my weekend.

the last task was sorting out the riff raff that must have come through a hole in the fence. then we loaded all the horses and equipment up, took down the panels and headed down to the ranch house for bbq beef dinner. i left my mares up there since it was late in the day and i still needed to do some work at the roundup office before heading home, and putting them back at jake's would have added another hour and a half. scott looked after them for me, so i left and finished up my stuff and headed to the house for a shower and went straight to bed.

it was a busy weekend of work, but full of sunshine and good company and rodeo and cows and horses, and it can't get much better than that.

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