It’s a bit of a celebration when we reach Paradise Valley each year. It’s always in the evening - following the longest trailing day of the longest trailing week of the year. The cattle fill up and look for their calves while we have a bite to eat and visit - weary but satisfied.
Unbelievable, but the dogs still need called back from the cattle after traveling a million miles controlling the herd. They’ve been going on heart for hours, an anomaly I've never figured out.
After we unsaddled, Seth lined up the horses for a portrait. They were agreeable only because they were tired.
Anna’s friend Harli was a real trooper. With little cowboying experience, she hung in there and helped a lot. She and Seth and Anna were bringing up the drag and got into trouble in the timber. I could hear them hollering and knew they needed help. I rushed back to find them in a panic. There were about 50 calves convinced that Mom was in the opposite direction. Harli was urging the calves ahead, leading Anna’s horse as Anna darted back and forth on foot, dodging quakies and jumping the creek. My daughter was red-faced and mad! She thought the rest of the crew had abandoned them. Seth was on a young horse, doing his best to hold things together. They only lost one calf.
We’ve had many similar instances. A time or two we lost the whole bunch and had to start over the next day.
I told Anna later, “You find out what you’re made of up here.”
Some days the challenge is merely physical, often wet and cold, or the opposite - hot, sweaty, and dusty, with a body aching from too many hours straddling a horse. Then there's the emotional challenge. Fear, when crossing boggy creeks or navigating steep terrain on an unsure horse. Frustration, when the herd feels like dead weight with many miles to go. And all the while, finding your own capacity to keep pushing past boredom and exhaustion.
I don’t think young people get that opportunity enough in our world, a chance to gather their physical and mental capabilities, face a challenge and come out the other side with success.
|Mark mothers them up|
|the remuda at trails' end|