Last night I was too sleepy to finish up summarizing our day, which began with the market hog’s maiden voyage out of the chore barn…
… and found the kids and I lunching on Chinese food inside our vehicle in Billings.
Here’s what happened next:
-I left the kids in the pickup and went into the UPS Store to pick up the copies I’d ordered of the ranch rodeo rules.
-We stopped at Walmart and waited in the pickup while Walmart employees loaded the back of the pickup with $500 worth of groceries. (Thank you, Walmart, for online ordering!) I assured the fellows doing the loading that I wasn’t planning to eat eight boxes of donuts on my own; rather, I was stocking up for branding season.
-I had to make a stop at a specialty shop to pick up a couple of, um, foundational garments for myself. Every mom loves doing this sort of thing with her four kids in tow. Thank goodness it’s a small business, so I felt safe leaving the two big kids locked in the pickup and listening to a kids’ podcast (Circle Round — we highly recommend it!) as I took the two littles inside the store with me. Inside, we were asked to wash our hands immediately, and I was given a mask to wear… but the two kids weren’t given masks. Ummmm… okay.
-On the way out of town we stopped at Northern Ag Network to drop off a thank-you note and a pick up a banner for the ranch rodeo.
-Of course we couldn’t leave town without ice cream at the Dairy Queen drive-through!
-Last stop in Billings: picking up our old hand-me-down camper at the repair shop. It’s got a couple of new windows, a new jacket, and new taillights now! … But it’s still circa 1971.
-I pulled the camper home behind the pickup, making a quick stop at the arena where the ranch rodeo will be held June 20. There were cows in the arena that had to be got out. Then I wandered around the grounds looking for a 220 outlet for the food truck to use. Then I measured for a new roadside sign. Sometimes I think to myself, Tam, you don’t have enough time to clean your frig or change your bedding. Maybe you should simplify your life and cut out the ranch rodeo? And then I come up with a bunch of reasons why I should keep going with the ranch rodeo.
-While we were at the arena, the kids were playing in a bucking chute and Muggins managed to get his body but not his head through a slatted gate. He panicked, the other kids panicked, and because my kids rarely panic I was in a panic by the time I reached them from the other end of the arena. I couldn’t even discern which one had the panic-worthy problem! Finally we got everyone’s emotions sorted out and after that I was able to fish Muggins’ body back through the gate.
-As the kids and I were leaving the arena, at long last headed home with our loot, Beau called and said he really felt like we should make an attempt at getting the yearling heifers out of the neighbor’s pasture. In the morning our neighbor had stopped by the house to let us know there were about 100 yearling PV heifers in his pasture with his red pairs. I had received the message and passed the message on to Beau, then left for Billings. Beau, too, had been gone working elsewhere all day. So an entire day had passed and we’d made no effort at getting the PV heifers off of the neighbor’s grass.
-At about 7:30 p.m. Beau hung up with me, then called and asked my mom if she could watch the kids while he and I chased yearlings.
-The kids and I pulled up to the house about 8 p.m. Beau already had my horse saddled. He helped the kids do their critter chores while I unhooked from the camper then unloaded the groceries into the house. My mom, God bless her, stayed with the kids and stashed all the groceries while Beau and I rode.
-Good thing it’s light in Montana ’til almost 10:00 this time of year.
-In a two section pasture, in waning light, we rawhided through the neighbor’s pairs looking for black yearlings. All the cattle were excited and goofy, as they have every right to be when a stranger is riding through them near bedtime, and it was really hard to talk those black yearlings into leaving the red mamas and babies. Finally we just took a big bunch of cattle to the gate between us and them and started sorting off pairs. We spilled a few yearlings — sacrificed one here or there to save the bunch kind of thing — but in the end, just before the sunset totally faded, we kicked approximately 48 heifers back into our pasture without any screw-ups. It sure wasn’t all the heifers out of the wrong pasture, but at least we got a start.
-We rode back to the trailer and drove home. I sent my mom home to her house, with lots of big thanks, a little after 10 p.m.
-And Beau was up at 5:00 this morning — it was our first branding day. (Pics tomorrow!)
© Tami Blake