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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Road Trip!

We haven’t officially moved yet but we did have business to tend to up at the ranch.

  1. Help my mother-in-law move back home.
  2. Figure out where to put her new home.
  3. Get the land ready for oncoming cattle.
  4. Meet and greet our new town.
Egg Hunt in the Snow. Because it's New Mexico.
Egg Hunt in the Snow. Because it’s New Mexico.

 

1. Seems easy enough but really, there’s an emotional rollercoaster when you go home minus a family member. I have to hand it to her, she only cried once (that we knew of) that week, but home is home.

2. That was pretty easy to figure out. Put it here, move the angle, add a road…FYI, do yourself a favor. If you’re getting a new mobile home put in, know EXACTLY what is expected of you and EXACTLY what is expected of the manufacturer. We had a little hiccup and didn’t know until a few days ago. We are back on track but it doesn’t hurt to have a punch list of sorts to get you going in the right direction.

3. Y’all. I fixed fence. Not like “Oh, fixing fence sounds so romantic and outdoorsy! Will it ruin my manicure?” Seriously, I fixed fence with my husband after only a couple of hours of learning and watching and doing with a great family friend who’s patient enough to answer all our crazy questions and teach us all he knows. In all honesty, a couple of hours is an exaggeration. We learned in about 30 minutes then spent the next 1 1/2 hours perfecting our technique. It’s an art that ranchers hate. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this ranching lifestyle, so it was fun. They say I’ll learn to hate it soon enough. Here’s the gist of how it works: Drive on the perimeter of a giant square. Look at the fence. Is it leaning? Is it busted? Is there slack? Get out, grab the wire stretcher, your good pair of wire cutters, some baling wire if it’s near a post, and the roll of barb wire. Trust me, just get it all ready – going back and forth from the truck is annoying. Fix the fence. It really doesn’t take long once you know what you’re doing and how to use the tools. My father-in-law did have this great invention he found at a conference/expo a few years ago called the Texas Fence Fixer and it’s extremely handy! Jump back in the truck, repeat. We did find a prairie dog village and, while cute, prairie dogs are bad news bears for ranchers and hazardous to cattle. Also found a hawk’s nest in a tree near one of our stock tanks. That was pretty cool! The way she was eyeing Nacho, I’m sure she has hungry chicks. Hubby and daughter also checked the water pump, I hauled loads of wood, we cleaned up the horse saddles, got all the ranch vehicles running after a long winter away, hauled dirt, obsessively checked weather, etc.

4. I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at names. A lot of people in town I know simply because my husband and I have been together for over 10 years. This is his hometown so we all see each other at least once a year for the Fourth of July parade and street dance. By the way, if you ever get invited to a small town celebration, go. It’s crazy fun. We went to a sale barn, met people at the bank, at the saddle shop, at the grocery store, at the café, ya know…everywhere. The best part of small town living? A handshake is what you do to close a deal. A hug is what you do to greet people. I have my issues with personal space but it’s starting to grow on me that I’ll get a hug before I get a handshake.

Did I mention we did this all within a week and I had a head cold the entire time and my daughter had this horrendous, phlegmy cough? We were flying through essential oil in the diffuser as well as this flu shot (in a shot glass) my friend was telling me about. It worked, so I can’t complain. Oh, and the hubby has a bruised rib and pulled tendons in his hand a month before we left. And it was snowing on our drive up. Yep. That’s how we roll.

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Fixin’Fence 3 days later.                           It’s NM, that’s how we roll.