Spring has turned to summer. Seed heads are showing on the hay ground which means it’s time to break out the harvesting equipment.
This May’s accumulation of rain has been a Godsend for the cattleman. The plant life is unusually prolific. The cottonwood trees that surround our home have showered us in big clumps of cotton for over two weeks, the heaviest I’ve witnessed in my 25 years on the ranch.
Spring’s last hurrah was one more big move with the cattle, which included hosting guests who had purchased a “rancher for a day” experience at the Leadership Idaho Agriculture Program year-end auction.
It would be a long day. We had to gather the Meadow Creek pasture, go over two bluffs and make the long climb to the Smyler Canyon divide, then down on into Paradise Lane. Mark figured it would take about 6 hours for the actual move – that is if things went right.
The first time we tried it we had to turn around and come home when the roads got too slimy from heavy rains. It was fine with our guests, Jeff and Debbie Williams, because that meant they could bring their son John back with them in a couple of days when the forecast looked better.
Our second try turned out to be a spectacular herding day. We had perfect temperatures - in shirt sleeves with a stiff breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. The sky was studded with fluffy clouds. The range was a soppy deep green, the sage wet and fragrant. And all along the way were these lovely little rain ponds for the cattle and dogs to drink from. Sly and Mater took good care of the visitors and Debbie would later call it “an experience of a lifetime.”
A side benefit was a dutch oven meal waiting for us at our destination prepared by our friends Dick and Lonna Jean Conroy. We don’t often mix pleasure with trailing cows, as there are lots of unknowns - and spoiling the meal by being late was not an option! Luckily the cattle trailed nicely and we made it, a little late but not too late. The meal and company were superb, but as the evening progressed we couldn't help but notice storm clouds building in the west.
You know that heavy, deathly still air that precedes a storm? It happened as we were visiting following dessert. We just looked at each other and then sprang into action, cleaning up dishes and ovens, loading horses, gathering up folding chairs. At one point we took the ends of the rain spattered plastic tablecloth and simply folded it over the remaining goods and piled it in the Conroy’s trailer. When we were all loaded, I gave one last hug to Dick and Lonna Jean as they scrambled into their pickup. My hair looked like Lonna’s, wet dreadlocks, but we were laughing and loving the adventure of it. One for the recordbooks!
|Debbie and John on the divide|
|What a spread!|
|I think we're in trouble, look at that sky!|
|Dick and Lonna Jean, "salt of the earth" folks|
photo by Debbie Williams