Many scenes run through my mind. I see cows and hear cows behind my eyelids at night. This year was eventful as always. Forty-five miles and two herds on the Trail at once doesn’t just happen. Mark had to change irrigation water before and after each day and kept ruthless hours.
Anna is home and helped us every day. We always have extra herders along, people that like to ride horses, but you can’t replace home grown help. She’s followed the herd without complaint for lots of years. She and her horse, Mater, and her dog, Clyde, make a good team. But her best quality is her easygoing and happy nature. And I need that this week; just ask her!
Our route takes us past the local solid waste transfer station and one morning as we passed through lush farm ground with no fences, an onslaught of trucks and trailers converged upon us. They shoved the cattle off the road as we struggled to put them back on to save the crops. The trailers held all manner of sundries, old couches, tree limbs, a rusted lawnmower. Oh! It’s county clean-up day! No fees at the dump! Groan.
Anna has a Shakespeare quote on our memo board in the kitchen: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” I roll that one over and over in my mind. Moving cattle to the hills certainly qualifies. “Cowboying” used to be the most fun in the world when I was a kid. And even when I first came to Pratt Ranch, I loved it. Now I’m like a colt that got soured from a bad experience. I’ve had too many long days when things went awry.
As spring arrives each year, I feel the worry start in the pit of my stomach about getting the cattle to the hills. Will we find enough help? Will it be too hot and the cattle peter out at 10:00 a.m.? What if someone gets hurt? I know it’s silly. I know I need to chill out and trust it will all work out. It always does in the end. There’s a sign on someone’s kitchen wall, “tomorrow I will relax and go with the flow.” That’s me.
The good and the bad stuff of life, the breathtaking moments of pure joy, and the moments of anger, frustration, and worry, are a hair widths apart. They march along side by side, two sides of the same coin. We (some of us especially) are vulnerable to switching sides at any moment. It takes conscious effort to bypass the stress and worry and open ourselves up to the beauty. It’s something I know I’ll work on the rest of my life.
My mother-in-law Anita took this photo. Wonderful isn’t it? It captures the best in trailing cattle. It’s got breadth, drama, and a bit of majesty. It’s about an hour before the free dump day traffic started going through the herd. The flip of a coin.