Mooovin’ On Over

Well how exciting is this? I finally got to do my first official “ranching” job. I helped move cattle! This is where I earn my stripes and put that Ranchucation 101 post to work.

It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. As long as I have my green horse AKA the 4-wheeler, I’m good! Ya see, there’s a pasture between our house pasture – where the cattle have been hanging out – and their new pasture. That part in between houses some yearlings that aren’t ours. If it were on a graph, it would look like this: Our Cows —–Someone Else’s Cows —– Our Cows.  But before we moved them, the hubby and I had to clean up their accommodations. Again.

Remember that whole fixing fence post? It was one of the first posts and when I truly felt like a rancher in the making. Well, we did it again. Except this time, it was in 100 degree heat and I wore my rubber rain boots due to high grass and possible snakes. The lesson there is to fix the damn fence quickly. And wear sunscreen. And bring extra water and snacks. Because wow. That was hot!

Speaking of water, did I mention we had to muck out the stock tanks?

Ya see, there’s the right way to do things and then the “WTH????” way to do things. On this occasion, we went with the latter option. Usually, cleaning out a stock tank is done when the water is drained and basically all the algae and water bugs are gone and/or dead. You get in with a shovel, clean it out really well, and move on. But then there’s our way. Why not wait until it’s full of water, then realize it’s dirty, so you clean it out with your rubber boots and try not to puke in the process when you rake out rotting algae and black slime? So much more fun. If you’re a rancher, you’re probably giggling to yourself and wondering what were we thinking? Well, we weren’t thinking and you’re welcome for the laugh. Rookie mistake but still, it was fun to work outside and literally get dirty.

So the water is clean (at least as far as I could get the rake out in the middle of the stock tank) and the fence is fixed (most of it anyway; the damn thing still has the original wood posts!) and it’s time to move some cattle.

With the help of two real cowboys – they ride horses and know what they’re doing and stuff – my husband got the cattle walking from our house about a mile away, past the other rancher’s pasture, to their new digs. I was in charge of keeping that other group of cattle away from ours. I got to “push” them a bit away from the main road. The last thing you want are someone else’s cattle mixing with your own. It’s like having 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of salt: they taste very different but both go well with a margarita.     Never mind.

Anyway, I led the other cattle out of the way and then followed behind our cattle. I was soooo proud of myself! I kept the other cattle away, we got our cattle on the right pasture, and no snakes. Or broken fence. The cowboys didn’t even laugh when I was taking pictures and told them about my blog. They were wearing glasses and cowboy hats but I know deep down they were impressed.

So how does a girl follow up with a proud ranching moment? She goes to the big city of Albuquerque for a weekend getaway with her mom and daughter to Starbucks and Target. That’s right. I’m still a city girl at heart.

 

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It’s a Jungle Out There.

 

The keets are here!!!! These little feathered cuties are crazy adorable. I mean, how do you not love a little baby anything? As with everything else on the ranch, there’s a reason we have them and it’s not all pretty.

Guineafowl (called keets when they are babies) are apparently terrible mothers. They’ll abandon their young, are very skittish, and can go wild. They also have a terrible habit of sounding a VERY LOUD alarm whenever a predator, the chickens, cows, horses, UPS truck, etc. come up. They like to roost in trees and pretty much do what they want. They’re basically that bratty kid you knew in elementary school that was convinced they would never get in trouble because their parents would protect them. Just kidding – sort of.

Anyway, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’ll always know when my delivery is here. PS – If you’re the UPS delivery person reading this, thanks! You’ve been delivering so many damn packages to our house we actually talked about leaving an ice cold glass of sweet iced tea and cookies for you. Only you know our obsession with Amazon Prime.

Guineas are also great at bullying snakes. Apparently, they’ll circle a snake or other small predator and herd them out of reach of their eggs. Or just peck them to death. They only breed in the spring so I might have a clutch or two of babies next year. Or I won’t. No big deal. They also like to eat insects of all kinds and are ravenous hunters of fleas and ticks. We don’t have fleas or ticks but this summer we were inundated with June bugs. June bugs are also the flying version of grubs. I hate grubs with a passion. They’ll eat up your grass in just one season and you’re left with a patch of brown circles. Really, I don’t like bugs much at all. Flies, flying ants, June bugs, moths, mosquitoes, grasshoppers – they’re all pesky problems out here. Which is why we are going the au natural route and including Guineas on the ranch. If all works out well, next spring will be glorious and the bugs will be kept to a bare minimum.

So here’s the funny part. We also have mice and rats. I’m not talking New York City size rats – that’s a whole species on its own. But I do mean the kind that are bigger than mice. There’s one right now under the cattle guard leading to the house. Grosses me out. I thought it was a dirty baby bunny when I walked across the cattle guard then realized nope – that is not the kind of cute furball I was expecting. Now, guineas, for all the good they do, don’t take care of rats and mice as well as they do snakes. But cats do. Without further delay, I’d like to introduce you to our cats. Plural. There’s 10 of these things in total. 7 kittens, 2 moms, and one Taco. We got Taco just before the 4th of July. We guess at this point, he’s about 10 weeks old. He was the only one left of a litter that was still with the owner and he was sooooooo sweet! I couldn’t leave him out on the ranch alone. So we made him the patio cat. He pretty much just lays around and waits for someone to pet him or feed him, but gosh he’s a sweetie. Totally useless in the snake department. There was a racer near the car and he just stepped over it to walk towards me. Meanwhile, I’m freaking out while our daughter and the dog run inside. The cat, no big deal. Just walks over it and towards me like “Girl, calm down. It’s just a snake.” Ridiculous. Anyway, he’s taken a liking to messing with our dog, Nacho. Nacho’s been around for almost 3 years and has learned how to leave the cats, the chickens, and sometimes the frogs, alone. Yes, my animals are named after Mexican food. Don’t judge.

Which leaves the other cats. I call them the Chila-kitties, named after Chilaquiles (pronounced chee-lah-kee-lehz). Again, don’t judge. You name yours after operas, conductors, train stations, and characters from your favorite TV shows; I go for food. Everyone’s happy. These furry critters were given to us on the 4th of July and are, to say the least, not friendly. The moms still growl at us and the dog but we feed their babies and them, so they can’t hate us too much. Right? Our hope is that they eventually migrate to the wood pile where my mother-in-law shot that rattler and where we know there’s an influx (or infestation) of rabbits. So far, everyone is getting along. The horses are nicer, the cows are eating grass, Nacho knows he can’t play with the squeaky toys (keets), the keets know they shouldn’t leave their current home, the chickens lay eggs and eat bugs, the cats know they could take the dog but prefer to “play” with the mice. If they can all get along, there’s hope for humanity.

For your viewing pleasure, here are pictures from the ranch/zoo. There are 2 pictures of the keets so that you can see how much they’ve grown in 2 weeks! They’re bigger and cute and still skittish but they’re getting the idea that I’m the one who feeds them, so they at least only stampede to the other side of their brooding box for a minute before they’re back out.

 

Last Week’s Recap

***Hi all. I had to take last week off. It just didn’t feel right to brag on our 4th while so much was, and still is, in turmoil. We will all move on but let’s not forget. Instead, let’s honor those who are gone by being better human beings. We don’t have to agree on everything but let’s at least look past our personal judgments and opinions and just be a little more compassionate. It’s not a solution to everything, but it’s a damn good start.***

The 4th of July: the time when Clayton’s population swells to 3,000+. That’s huge for this town and perfect to me! It’s always been one of my favorite times to visit because I know the town welcomes everyone. Up until this year, our family traveled from Las Cruces or Albuquerque to hang out on the ranch. It was a good 2 or 3 day respite from the trappings of city life. I used to call it the place where I could reset my soul. We’d have fireworks and back porch sittin’ and really just do a lot of nothing, unless my father-in-law had a “Honey Do” list for us. Then it was moving rock and building things and helping to weld something together. Whatever it was, we were always happy to do it because it was getting our hands dirty – something we didn’t do enough of in the city.

This year was different. I mentioned to Clay how strange it was that it was Friday before the 4th, and we were already here. That it was July 5, and we were still here. It was odd how we didn’t have a Honey Do list or that we weren’t trying to get as filthy in the outdoors as quickly as possible. I didn’t feel the need to rush anything this year, to stay on the ranch because I didn’t want to move, I didn’t need to disconnect from city life. In some ways, I’ve already disconnected so the 4th wasn’t respite, it was just another good weekend full of friends, family, and celebration.

Instead of staying on the ranch this year, my mom came into town and we partied together! OK, not like rockstar party and dancing on the table (because the Eklund didn’t host a beer garden and we aren’t cool enough to know anyone at the VFW – yet), but we really did enjoy ourselves. It was more like adult partying where you actually remember what you did and what you said and no one makes an offering to the porcelain gods. I think I prefer this kind of partying anyway.

First up was the Street Dance. This is an annual event where one block of Main Street is shut down right in front of the Eklund Hotel. We dance, we talk, we hang out with people we haven’t seen all year! People come home and get the town gossip and a few selfies. If you can believe it, I had my phone and I didn’t take a single picture. Swear, I was there. We left just about the time the rain and thunder cleared everyone out.

The next day was all about Trinidad, Colorado. Yes, again: don’t judge. We wanted my mom to check it out and we were in need of a Walmart trip for some pool chemical stuff. Seriously, we both thought we could just fill up the pool, throw in a bit of bleach, and swim. Total novices in the upkeep of pools and now I know why people make a living off of being cabana boys. Sheesh. Anyway, we drove through downtown Raton, ate at Bella Luna Pizzeria again, and hit up the local Wally World. It’s still one of the cleanest Wally Worlds I’ve entered and, if you’re a regular visitor, you know that means a lot. Back home to relax and enjoy.

Monday was the big parade. It’s a hometown parade where the rodeo queen and her court ride horses, the kids ride their bikes, and everyone is getting candy. Except this is Clayton, so we know the people who are in the floats and the people in the floats know the people on the side of the street. The first responders are driving their vehicles with sirens blasting, the high school teams are representing Clayton with pride, even a group of low riders! We’re New Mexico, that’s how we roll. No pun intended. Anyway, we got to hang out with some friends in their covered porch. They happen to live right on the parade route, so we had shade and friends and lots and lots and lots of candy. The best part? My mom said she hadn’t been to a parade like that since she was a kid. She loved it and that always makes me happy!

We aren’t done with Monday yet. We still had the rodeo. I seriously debated wearing my cowgirl hat but, with my luck, someone would say something all rodeo-like and I’d stand there and blurt out something about my damn chickens. Or that I want 2 rodeo bulls so that I can name them Sprinkles and Twinkles. So instead, I actually combed my hair (I think) and wore my favorite UNM Lobos cap and we headed out to get our rodeo on. Again, fun. The best part was the fireworks show afterward. This year, it was synced to music and was extremely well done. Thanks go out to the Clayton Fire Rescue for the fireworks and Union County Youth Supporters for a great rodeo! Your efforts are unmatched!!!

Back to planet Earth Tuesday morning. But the fun’s not over! Wait until the next blog post when I introduce you to the keets. The Guineas (and a few other furry surprises) are here!!!

Parades=Candy=Happy

4th of July in Small Town, USA

 

 

 

 

 

Tired Cowgirls

 

 

 

Rodeo Queens