Last week we Blakes visited a part of the ranch I hadn’t been to for over a year. Butte Camp is at the southwest corner of the PV Ranch, near the Custer-Melstone road. The VX, where we live, is at the extreme north of the PV. In fact, the VX is a ranch in itself, meaning it doesn’t touch any other PV land. The ranch headquarters and the other three PV camps, of which Butte Camp is one, all share fences. We’re kinda all on our own up here at the VX north of Ingomar.
Anyhow, our long-time coworker Vergal and his wife live at Butte Camp. We went there last Wednesday to help Vergal and my parents wean one last small batch of cows and calves. Luckily we didn’t have to be there too early in the morning, because trips never roll along real smoothly with three little ones in the pickup, and it was 50 miles to get there. We took with us a pillow, blankets, books for looking at, kid music for listening to, shiny things for entertaining the baby, diapers, spare clothes for each kid, coffee thermoses, water bottles, snacks, the kids’ coats and mittens and hats and boots, Beau’s horse, one kid horse, two kid saddles… and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. And I’m sure I forgot something, too.
When we were within a couple miles of Butte Camp, we came upon my parents in their own pickup and trailer parked alongside the dirt road. Beau mounted Frosty and trotted off to gather cows…
Mom mounted Banker and trotted off to gather cows…
and Dad mounted Bud and trotted off to gather cows. The kids and I drove on down to camp with the trailer and waited for the crew to show up and corral the cattle. Thank goodness for Vergal’s wife, Gail, who welcomed us into her home. (Three little kids can only wait so long for cows to show up.) Gail doesn’t have any toys at her house, but she did have cups of juice and old Westerns playing on her TV. (Turns out the kids are big fans of the Lone Ranger.) It’s always a meaningful thing to run into hospitality out in the middle of nowhere.
We drove through these cool sandrocks just before getting to Butte Camp:
Butte Camp is special to my folks because they lived there with my sister and brother for several years before I was born. Then Dad’s pelvis was broken in an accident and he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace of work he was accustomed to as a camp cowboy. So the family left Butte Camp and went to the Yellowstone Valley to farm with my grandparents. Mom always remembers how homesick they all were for Butte Camp as they farmed the confiningly straight fields of the valley.
A few years after leaving, Dad was asked to come back to the PV, this time as foreman stationed at ranch headquarters east of Butte Camp. And my parents have lived at ranch headquarters ever since. I was born a couple years after their return.
So Butte Camp isn’t as much a part of my history as it is theirs, as I never lived there. But I do enjoy visiting. And it was a good day we had there last week. All three of the kids did a little riding, and even I was horseback for a bit. We got the cows worked. We got to visit with coworkers we don’t often seen. We got to see good country as we drove there and back.
And best of all, somebody else made lunch… and we stopped at the Jersey Lilly for supper on the way home.