The kids helped us move the cows closer to ranch headquarters and in pastures that have natural shelter in preparation for calving. Mark says, “the dam is filling,” referring to the mothers and their growing fetuses.
Seth rode Anna, the white mare, and worked his border collie, Cassie. Anna rode Mater (she likes to say, “like tomater without the tō ”) and took her dog Clyde along to help. It’s a real joy to see these partnerships still firmly in place. Even though the kids don’t help as much as they used to, the animals remember them and work together like always. I know ranching can be done without the use of dogs or horses . . . or kids for that matter, but I’m not quite sure how.
These animals are our friends and helpmates. And besides helping us perform tasks, they educate us daily - lessons about tenacity, patience, duty and acceptance.
I have often considered the contribution to our kids’ lives made by all the animals that have lived here. Despite the heartbreak when the inevitable deaths occur, their gifts far outweigh the losses. Losing the collie, June, in an irrigation ditch was Anna’s greatest childhood disaster. Rocker, so named because riding him was like sitting in a rocking chair, got tangled in a fence and broke our kids’ hearts. My Beauty dog, ever the worker, was kicked by a horse when age began to dampen her reflexes. The list goes on and on, for horses and especially dogs, live short lives. The facts of life – and death – are never far away here on the ranch.
But today the kids and their current animal companions are young and healthy – and for today, that’s enough.