By Tami Blake copyright September 2015
He’s more than a cowboy.
Sure, the days that he gets to “cowboy” make for great photos. In my book, cowboying is defined as the art of handling cattle horseback. There’s plenty of that to do around here… on certain days (when he rides through the herd checking its health) and especially in certain seasons (branding, weaning, bull turnout and bull gather).
There’s not a lot of folks these days who do all their work horseback, and here is no exception — because there are so many other things that must be attended to. His actual job is to care for the land (over 40,000 acres) and the cattle that graze the land here at the VX.
On any given day his job description might include: Bovine nutritional expert. Range management advisor. Veterinary technician. Fence-builder. Heavy equipment operator. Pipe-fitter. Amateur electrician. Firefighter.
Today he will definitely be checking wells and reading water pressure meters. He might also be stacking by hand sacks of mineral and salt that will be dispersed to the cattle over the next several months. Maybe repairing a water pump. Perhaps cleaning out the air filter in the ATV. Checking the mouse traps in the bunkhouse. Feeding the cats that battle the mice in the barn. Answering phone calls from folks wanting to hunt. Or wading in a creek crossing, rigging up fences to prevent the bulls from swimming right out of their pasture.
And then there are the long, bouncing hours he spends in the pickup. In the summer, he’s checking the pipelines that carry water to remote stock tanks. In the winter, unrolling bales of hay for hungry mama cows. And during these hours in the pickup he’s dreaming of the projects he’d love to tackle… should his life be long enough and should the general manager okay the funds someday: waging a battle on prairie dogs. Harvesting the dead timber on the creek. Building a new well house. Moving fences. Putting in a system of water storage tanks. Flooring the barn.
Those are only dreams for now, and it’s just as well… because there’s already plenty to do today.