Big Picture Stuff

First of all, this is why you don’t locate the ranch house a half mile from the barn in country with no cell phone service:  Mama ends up making lots of early-morning runs to the barn wearing her pink polka-dot bath robe in order to flag down Daddy because somebody has called and plans have changed.


Meanwhile, the whole time Mama is making the mad dash to the barn, she’s hoping that the kids — left sleeping at the house — will stay asleep while she’s gone.  But inevitably they wake up.  When she returns, the baby will be screaming furiously in her crib, the 5-year-old will be flipping through TV channels, and the 3-year-old will have dumped out a box of cereal on the table:  breakfast simplified.

But I digress.  On the morning of the pink polka-dot photo, an important call had come in for Beau.  He was already at the barn, saddling up to check heifers, so after taking the message, I had to start the pickup and drive to the barn to deliver the message.  The news I carried, though, was worth it!  It was news for which we had been hoping.  News for which we’d had our fingers and toes crossed.  New for which we’d been holding our breaths.  You get the idea.

The news.  Was.  This:  The trailers were in!  Actually in!

Beau recently got to accomplish one of his first big-picture projects here at the PV Ranch:  the procurement of three new horse trailers for ranch use.

Beau likes big-picture projects.  I do too.  Big picture stuff makes us feel like we’re doing something more important than just surviving every day.  That, and we’re both kinda dreamers.  And when a ranch hand is dreaming, he might as well dream about new horse trailers for the outfit.

Beau has been helping my dad, Harold, the PV ranch manager, with a few big-picture projects like this one which contribute to the well-being of the place and the employees.  Dad would rather be out trailing cows to a new pasture, whereas Beau also likes sitting down at the desk, making a few phone calls, checking out some websites, and trying to accomplish big-picture stuff.

Big-picture dreams don’t come true around here very often.  I’ve written before — check out PV 365 — about how we don’t work at this corporate ranch because great things are happening here; we work here because lots of little, good things happen every day.  We’re not driving fancy outfits at the PV Ranch or living in fancy houses or winning ranch rodeos or getting rich or starting our own cowherds.  We’re just raising our little family with a pasture for our backyard and with animals for textbooks on a blessedly remote gravel road… and for the most part we’re left alone to pretend the whole place is our own.

Oh, there are some frustrating things about this corporate ranch job with a ladder of hierarchy which stretches to the clouds… specifically, the glacial speed at which big-picture projects are recognized and accomplished.  But when you look at the good side of it — when you look at the backyard and the textbook and the gravel road — a corporate ranch is a pretty great place to work.

Even better when finally… finally… a big-picture project comes through!  I think the new horse trailers — which were desperately needed; two of the trailers these new ones will replace are 25 years (and zillions of gravel miles) old, while the third new trailer will save us Blakes from using our own personal horse trailer for ranch work here at the VX — had been discussed at corporate budget meetings for several years.  Last year the trailers actually made the corporate ranch budget, but never materialized in real life.  This year, though, thanks to a team effort with coworkers at our sister ranch The Q in Wyoming, the trailers were actually ordered!

Like I said, though, we were holding our breaths — hoping the check would be signed, halfway believing it was all too good to be true — until that early-morning call came in for Beau:  the trailers were here!

Actually, two of the trailers were at the tractor dealership in Hysham, sitting on a semi driven by (according to Beau) a Mexican Amish truck driver.  I’ll admit, the fellow was very difficult to understand on the phone — a little bit of a Mexican accent, a little bit of an Amish accent.  But I gathered enough to understand that he was sitting at the tractor dealership wanting someone to unload the trailers.

Beau made a mad dash to Hysham to retrieve the trailers.  He delivered one to ranch headquarters, for my dad to pull, and brought the other one home here to the VX.  He was one.  Proud.  Ranch hand when he got here:


The trailers were custom-ordered from a Texas outfit but we think they were built in Mexico:


They are not only ranch stout, but they were so, so clean when they arrived.  So never-used.  So BRAND NEW!  It was like Christmas at the PV!  The kids had a great time playing in the new VX Camp trailer:



You may have noticed we’re short one trailer here.  We ordered three, but only two fit on the semi that came to Hysham.  So the third trailer went on a semi to our sister ranch in Wyoming (The Q, also owned by the PV’s owner and also part of this crazy corporate ranch setup by which we’re all employed).

Last Sunday, we Blakes drove to Sheridan, Wyoming in a ranch pickup to meet Jeremy and his family from The Q.  Sheridan is about halfway between the PV and The Q.  Right there at a city park, we shared pizza with Jeremy’s family and our kids played with their kids, then they dropped the new trailer and we picked it up, and we brought it home to the PV.  This one is a half-top for potential loading of roped critters out in the pasture.  Here we are in Hardin on the way home.  We never make it past the Dairy Queen in Hardin without stopping for chicken strips and ice cream:


On the way home that night with the half-top trailer, we met coworker Nate in Ingomar.  We dropped the trailer, he hooked up, and now the half-top will live at Ridge Camp with Nate and his family.  Again, very proud ranch hands.  Beau and Nate were practically levitating as they blocked Main Street Ingomar checking out every inch of the new trailer by our headlights.

Thank you to our owner Mr. K. and our general manager Mr. C. for making the day — the year? — for a few cowboys.  And for letting us feel like we accomplished something Big Picture.

A little more Blake news:  the trip to Sheridan was, we realized, our first time driving out of the state with our children.  Oh, we’ve flown with them to the other end of the country, but due to our babies’ intense hate of their carseats, we’ve truly tried to limit our road trips since we started having kids five years ago.  But we were going to Sheridan, by golly.

And you know what?  At 5, 3, and 14 months, they did just great:


This is how we roll.  Three cheers for Big Picture Stuff!

© Tami Blake

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