Around here, once the calves are all branded and the cows are all put out to summer pasture and the bulls are all turned out for breeding season… summer can really begin.
Fall is a race to get cattle ready for winter. Winter is about everyday survival. And spring is a race to finish the work mentioned above. But July and August are different.
July and August are our chance to move a little slower, to work a little less, to think about accomplishing some big-picture projects for the ranch.
These are what I’d call the dog days of summer. For us, they look like this:
(Playing with the kid horses. God bless sweet Jiggers for her patience.)
(Rescuing baby birds.)
(A true 21st Century mom, I helped my son Google “what to do with a baby bird that falls from its nest,” and there we found the confirmation I was looking for: baby birds are better off if we humans leave them alone. Are my kids convinced? No.)
(Watering. Nothing in particular.)
(Looking at my seed collection and deciding, once again this year, that it’s way too late to plant a garden anyways.)
(Playing outside… without snowboots, snow pants, mittens, or even jackets!)
(Wearing our boots on the wrong feet.)
(Slip-n-sliding with friends!)
(Pretending to be wild little Indians.)
(Lying on our backs and watching the bees hurry between hollyhocks.)
(Taking way too many photos of cottonwood cotton falling lazily through the sunset.)
(Floating the ditch.)
(Stocking up on hay. Three cheers for my cousin Chad, pictured, who helped his boys put up, market, and deliver tons and tons of small square bales this summer.)
(Staying up late to visit with friends.)
(So good to see our ol’ pal Jake Marchetti again… and to meet his sister for the first time.)
(Playing Dad in a serious game of Battleship.)
(In the cool dining room on a hot day.)
(Loving on big cousins.)
(Nate makes a mean chocolate chip cookie dough.)
(Helping Taylor perfect her recipes for the county fair.)
(Growing zinnias. In my opinion, the easiest, prettiest, most wonderful-est flower there is.)
(Feeding bum calves. Not quite as exciting in August as it was in April.)
(Fishing with friends.)
(That’s our bud Rylee — Best. Day. Ever. girl — and her pink cowgirl hat.)
(Exploring, while always respecting, the mighty Yellowstone River.)
(Riding carnival rides.)
(Riding the ponies at the fair. $5 each. Because these poor kids will never have another chance to ride. Ever again.)
Here in Eastern Montana, we’ll start getting ready for winter next week. But for now… we’re just enjoying the dog days of summer.
© Tam Blake