Beau recently expressed his wish for a t-shirt to memorialize the era of the non-word “heddo” in our lives. “Heddo” is how 5-year-old Marsi, who hasn’t perfected the English language yet, says “hello” on the telephone.
I thought “heddo” was the best way to start this post, because the first thing I need to say is Hello! And hi! And how’ve you all been doing? I know it’s been ages since I posted. Time seems to be flying so fast around here, and though I’ve often wished in recent months to take the time to share photos and words with you loyal readers, the reality is that so many things have been forced to the top of my priority list over blogging. I’m working on borrowed time even today, but here’s a quick run-down on where our summer went.
The Summer Interns.
Our 16-year-old nephew Nate and 14-year-old niece Tay were with us most of the summer. They slept at Grandma and Grandpa’s (my folks’ house), but the truth is there wasn’t a lot of sleeping going on around here. Throughout June and July, Nate and Tay were usually in our yard in the wee hours of morning, saddling horses for the day’s work, and they often stayed and played at our house until 10 p.m. We had them doing all sorts of things this summer:
Tay has officially claimed the title of my ranch-rodeo-co-manager, but is (understandably) leery of being labeled a babysitter. That doesn’t stop her from taking selfies with the kids while they’re waiting for me to come out of the bank, though.
And Nate did all kinds of stuff for Uncle Beau and for the ranch this summer, including but not limited to helping me perform a hundred-year cleaning-out and fixing-up of the hundred-plus-year-old barn here at PV headquarters. I made him do all the dirty work because that’s just the kind of aunt I am. Right, Nate?
They did lots of chores…
And they generally kept their little cousins entertained.
Biggest of all, both Nate and Tay learned to rope this summer and were regular members of the branding crew:
In addition to riding good ol’ ranch horses, they both worked with green project horses this year. In fact, Nate is above on Cat, an 8-year-old gelding who hadn’t been ridden in the four years since he’d sustained a broken elbow. It made my heart happy to see that horse being ridden. And Nate is below on Mocha, a 4-year-old mare who started the summer with several screws loose and ended the summer with just a couple screws loose. Good job, Nate!
And of course Nate’s biggest accomplishment was Little Neigh:
I’m chuckling over here. I chuckle every time I look at this picture.
As for Tay, she wasn’t about to let Nate have all the horse-training fun, and she obtained for herself a 4-year-old pony mare named Bad Orange. Suffice it to say Bad Orange lived up to her name countless times this summer, but Tay never quit on her, and the two of them ended the summer on a good note:
Speaking Of Branding.
It was a branding year to remember, the start to a whole new chapter in our lives as all the kids on the place became more involved in our daily ranch work. Asher, age 9, met his goal of riding at every PV branding this summer (there were 21 of them!) and also got to drag a few calves on good ol’ Doogan.
One of the big highlights of Asher’s branding season was time spent with an ornery but endearing, pretty-broke-but-inclined-to-rear 10-year-old pony named Centaur:
Aunt Sue took this picture one morning as Asher saddled Centaur, which is exactly what Asher loves about Centaur: he’s short enough that Asher can saddle, unsaddle, get on, and get off all by himself. The two of them made many miles there for a few weeks, tagging along behind Daddy, and we were even making headway on the rearing issue until Centaur came up lame one morning. So… Centaur has a couple months of R&R ahead of him as he heals from a cracked shoulder sustained in the horse trailer.
Yup, I could probably write an entire book about Branding Season 2020. There was lots of adventure (on the day pictured below, for instance, a storm that put down hail and tornado activity elsewhere rolled right over the top of the branding trap, and because we weren’t close to any buildings, the crew rode deep up a coulee to wait it out):
There were early mornings (and a few late nights):
Even I clocked many pleasurable hours roping on good horses (!):
And my dad, at age 76, rode at most every branding and drug calves a few times too.
Oh, and on the way home from branding at the VX one hot day, our family made a final stop at the Jersey Lilly in Ingomar, which sadly has closed down (unless anyone out there is looking to buy and operate it… ?). By the way, Nate, age 16 in this photo, thought it was funny when he later casually mentioned to me, “Didn’t you notice I was holding a beer bottle when you took that picture?” No, I had NOT noticed. But I CAN testify that he was not drinking from it.
On to another part of our lives. This was Asher’s first year competing in the local 4-H fair (you have to be 9 years old), and so my first year as an official 4-H mom. It was a weird fair indeed this year — social distancing, no camping or stalling at the fairgrounds, few spectators, judges wearing masks, etc. — but still, for Asher, a very positive experience.
Rojo was grand champion bucket calf!
Sniffs was a blue ribbon market hog!
Asher and Jiggers won grand champion in horsemanship 1!
And when, at the market stock sale held at Miles City Live, the price for Sniffs sailed right up to $9/pound (!), I buried my face in my knees and cried a few mama tears… not because I was going to miss the pig so much as I was overwhelmed by the support and generosity shown to all the 4-Hers this year and especially to the little boy who is near and dear to my heart.
As for Miss Emi, who is still a “cloverbud” — meaning not quite old enough to be a 4-Her — she did an excellent job at an interview during which she told the judge all about the tie blanket she made with Grammy’s help.
4-H 2020. It’s all over but the shoutin’… I mean the paperwork. Sigh.
The Ranch Rodeo.
Gosh, it seems like June was eons ago, but just the same I haven’t taken the time to post a few pics from this year’s event (this was our 14th year hosting the Custer Ranch Rodeo). Truthfully, I haven’t taken the time to send thank-you notes to all the ranch rodeo sponsors yet! In other words, I better tie up this blog post and get to work on those notes! Quickly then, photos by KNZ Design & Marketing:
Lots more on facebook.com/CusterRanchRodeo!
Back To School.
As all good things do, summer as we knew it has come to an end. After a long, dry, hot final day on the trail…
… I think our summer interns (a.k.a. our nephew and niece) decided there might be more to life than cowboying.
And so they are back in their hometown now, each competing in their respective fall sports. And Tay — big news here — made a quick stop at her own county’s fair to dazzle the judges with her smile. She was rewarded with a buckle! That’s a real relief for all of us, because all summer long she worried that at her “old” age of 14 she had never won a buckle and so might never ever win one.
Great job, Tay!
Here at home we’re back to school too — homeschooling because we always have, worrying very little about COVID-19 because, well, we live in our own little world.
For some wonderful reason the grasshoppers haven’t gotten our garden. It’s not because we don’t have any grasshoppers around… they’re here all right, in almost biblical proportions.
And, thanks to this summer’s drouth, we’ve rediscovered the perfect sandbar for swimming in the Yellowstone River on hot days.
We are blessed. We are well. We are very busy. To be perfectly honest I might not find the time to post again for a couple months. So… heddo, and we’ll meet again down the trail.
© Tami Blake