Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Still Slogging Around

Yes, we got more rain. Another inch and a half at the end of last week. The pastures look incredible. You can barely tell there's been a cow on our leases, let alone most of our herd. We already have more hay than we got last year and we're only 3/4 done, at most.

But yes, we are sick to death of mud.

I'm hoping to get out and take some good pictures this week. In the meantime, head over to my alternate blog and you can see why I consider myself the Queen of Half Done.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Calling out the Cavalry

I'm not a real news hound, but it's been hard to live in the western half of the United States without being aware of the ongoing manhunt for a trio of prison escapees from Arizona and their female accomplice. After their escape, they shanghaied a pair of truck drivers and forced them to drive to New Mexico, where they then appear to have murdered a man and his wife to steal their pickup and head north.

They split up somewhere along the way, and one of the men was captured in Colorado a few days ago. The other three were spotted in the Yellowstone Park area on Sunday. This was a bit of a concern to my family, as my brother in law is working on a bridge construction project down there that requires him to show up at three o'clock in the morning. I do have to give the escapees credit, though. What better place to hide in plain sight than in the midst of throngs of cap and sunglass wearing tourists?

Yesterday the hay was finally ready to bale, the baler and tractor were both functional, and my husband was going great guns on a field over the hill and a mile west from the house. I walked out to take him supper right before dark. He said don't bother to wait up, he was going to bale as long as he could keep his eyes open. So I went home, got the kid ready for bed and was just about to hunker down myself when I heard a vehicle. I went out into the living room just in time to see a pair of taillights going west, down a track that leads to our haystacks, north pastures and eventually, the Canadian border.

Then the phone rang. My dad. The border patrol had called. One of the fugitives and his fiance/accomplice/cousin (eeuwww) had been spotted twenty miles away in St. Mary's and they were warning all residents along the adjacent Canadian line to keep their eyes open and lock their doors.

Did I mention my husband was a mile from the house, in the middle of a hayfield, alone? Without his cell phone, of course.

"Someone just came past, headed west," I told my dad.

"Are you sure it wasn't Greg?"

"I don't think so. It didn't sound like the brown pickup." As in, minus a muffler and rattling so loud you expect to find pieces of it scattered everywhere it goes. Plus, I'm pretty sure it hasn't had both taillights since we've owned it.

After a short debate, we decided Dad should call the border patrol and report the strange vehicle, while I drove out to tell Greg what was going on. It was quarter to eleven. Pitch dark. I went outside and, lo and behold, there was the brown pickup, parked in its usual spot. Oh, right. Greg was driving the newer blue Ford because he'd had to run to town for parts. I jumped in the brown pickup, which ranks amongst its few accessories a .22 rifle and full box of shells. Too bad the dome light in the pickup is broken and I am barely capable of loading the thing in the daylight.

I bounced and rattled out to the hayfield, flagged Greg down and shared the news. He sort of shrugged. I told him about the vehicle we'd seen going past.

"Oh, that was me," he said. "I forgot my flashlight at the shop."

Which was when the border patrol helicopter buzzed us. No doubt in response to my dad's call. Um, oops. But hey, excellent response time.

For complete details on the escapees: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/apArticle/id/D9HGPS5G0/

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Numb with Excitement

I'm taking a break from my usual programming today. I have mentioned before that I have a literary agent, the awesome and fearsome Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary Management in New York City. Yep, the Big Apple. Oddly enough, I am not her only client, which is good considering I've yet to provide her with a book she could sell. (This one. I swear, Janet.)

Anyway, some of her other clients do sell books, and one of them is celebrating the release of his debut novel, Numb. Sean Ferrell is one of my favorite online writer friends. One of our other writer friends is sponsoring a contest in his honor. You can check out the contest and her review of Numb at Harley May.

And this is my illustration of a few of the key scenes of Numb, all rolled together (you have to look close, Harley. That's a nail in the back of his neck):

For those of you who were counting on finding my words of wisdom, head on over to Everybody Needs a Little Romance to enjoy my latest excuse for why I never get anything done around here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

How to Dress a Horse

This is a video from rodeo slack at Browning. Sadly, I couldn't get the sound to record, so you don't get the full atmospheric effect. But as you can tell, the pace is fairly laid back at eight o'clock in the morning.

This is a steer wrestler from British Columbia. I never actually heard his name. His friend in the blue shirt is the poor sucker who got stuck pushing my breakaway calf. The stuff in the bottle is fly spray. FYI, I edited this video quite a bit. From the time he started brushing the horse to where it now ends...eleven minutes.

I recommend watching full screen and checking out the background activity, too. The guy testing out his ropes, and the one clear back at the white horse trailer who's shoeing his horse.