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- Clayton Ranch, Big Timber, Montana: Branding 2021 - Cow hand teaching a young cow girl how to have some fun when the work was all done!Sandhills Cranes looking over potential homesOur Sandhills Cranes have arrived and settled in.I meant to add a caption. “Typical night in Catskill, NY or Alien ship is landing to take me away from all this.”
Category Archives: Low Places
It’s a pretty good cowboy poem you wrote to me.
But it’s really dark.
So I’m glad it’s sunny today
And the grass is green
And the flowers are thinking of blooming.
And I at least have that.
If I can’t have you here
To smell the Spring
And feel the Sun
And hear the squirrels talking
And see a whole flock of bad ass blue jays flapping
Like cowboys on a bender after branding.
Yeh, I’m glad it’s sunny,
But sunny can’t lighten lonely.
But it will just have to do.
Nuts – A Poem
I love the train. Maybe I will just ride it all week long.
Back and forth from wherever. Makes me less nuts.
Less glitches than flying although last week the train I take hit a man and killed him just North of Hudson, NY. What was he doing on the track at night?
Someone killed a squirrel in front of my house. I felt bad. Who else will mourn Mr. Squirrel. Just me and Mrs. Squirrel. The vultures came and there is just a splat this morning.
Did your plane get delayed due to the “flight planning software glitch”?
Is that what happened to Mr. Squirrel? A car avoidance software glitched?
Or was it murder?
Or was he just tired of looking for nuts?
Catskill Cassandra. April 1, 2019
Okay, let’s add another word for being mean or pissed off which can make you mean. Specifically, a pissed off mean cow. But a word that can be applied to mean pissed off people in general.
The word is “snuffy”. So add that to “gnarly”, “owly” and “high headed”. Well, “high headed” is a word for wild, Cowboy Clay reminded me. “Different”.
So Cowboy Clay called this morning and I asked how the cold calf was. Two nights ago a calf was born in below zero weather out in 2 feet of snow. He decided he better get him in which means putting him in the ranch house’s mudroom. He loaded him up in the pickup, but then he almost got stuck in the deep snow. Somehow he made it and got the calf in to the warmth.
So two days later I wondered how the calf was doing.
“Oh, I put him back out there, but the darn cow wouldn’t take him. Wouldn’t recognize him as her own. So I went back a little later and put some of that powder on him.”
(That powder has the hilarious but appropriate name of “O NO MO”. Translated is Orphan No More. It takes the human scent off and hopefully will get the cow to take the calf aka nurse the calf.)
“Not much luck when I checked and then the darndest thing happened. This other cow came up to the calf and started to butt him all around. I had to jump in there and try to get her to go back to her own calf. She finally went away. And then the next time I checked his mother had claimed him. But then I found another new calf and I was doctoring him when that same mean cow got a little snuffy again. She tried to butt me and the calf, but I got away from her and got her to go back to her own calf.”
I asked if he had marked her tag number down and he said he did. That means she might be on the list to “send her down the road” next fall when her calf is weaned. Sending her “down the road” means going to the meat packer, if you haven’t figured that out.
In my line of work in Hollywood, you get the occasional mean person. You try and fend off the “gnarly”, “owly” or “snuffy” ones. It’s best to try humor with these snorty owly snuffy types. It can work to be a little playful or a little curious about why the bad mood. Doesn’t work to crack jokes with an angry 1200 pound mother on a mission. She goes on the list. If humor doesn’t work with the human snuffy type, you can put them on a list. But the consequences of that list aren’t so dire as ending up in the “Meats and Deli” section at the grocery store.
The winds had howled louder than any pack of coyotes and wolves put together. Those winds had taken the foot of snow that fell in the night and hurled it on to the last bit of road out of the ranch. As Daphne listened, the howling began to morph into yelling. Phrases like “Montana sucks in winter” and “You are crazy as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore, are you?” and, of course, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do,” came screaming at her from outside.
Earlier in the day, she had got out and got back albeit with a bit of maneuvering. So she thought that 4 hours later it might still be possible to get out. Of course, there was always the “upper gate”. This is the gate next to the cattle guard which opens up into the North pasture that borders the frontage road. Once thru this gate it’s fairly easy to ride over the rocky yet level field and go out another gate on to the frontage road. This is never “drifted in”. However, for 20 years Daphne has complained that the “gate” is impossible for her to close. It’s really really tight. She can get it open, but then can’t get the darn post back in it’s wire hoop. Plus she can’t open the barbed wire gate without shredding her good coat. Since fashion is always more of a consideration that practicality, Daphne prefers to try to go out the main entrance.
But even Daphne had become practical in the last two weeks since the weather has been just terrible with snow drifting and temperatures in the teens and lower, demanding that she wise up. So, she took to carrying a Carhartt canvas jacket in the front seat just in case she had to open the upper gate. She still couldn’t close the thing, but the cows are mostly way down the other pasture and rarely come up to this gate, so it’s safe to leave it open for an hour or two.
Even so, as Daphne neared the cattle guard and seeing that Cowboy Clay had not opened the upper gate, she decided to plow her way through the drifts. Recklessly, she gunned the motor of the All Road and drove over the cattle guard and into the first drift which was a tad bit harder and less fluffy than she thought. Her heart lept to her throat as the car came to a dead stop in the next drift. Continue reading
Daphne hadn’t been in Montana long and had only been with Clay less than a year when the phone rang.
”Is Clay around,” said the man on the other line.
”No, he’s in town, “Daphne answered.
”Well, this is Soot and I was irrigating and saw that Clay’s black bull blew up.”
Daphne, for once, was at a loss for words.
“I’ll get ahold of him and tell him, Soot,” she murmured.
“Yeh, he don’t look too good,” Soot replied.
“Yeh, I bet, “ she sighed, “Well, thanks.”
She hung up the phone and called Clay.
“I’ve got some bad news, Clay,” she cried, “Soot said your bull blew up!”
“Oh, shit,” he said.
”Who would do such a thing, Clay?
“What are you talking about?”
“Well who would blow up a bull? A teenager? Or did he step on a land mine and why would there be land mines? Do you use dynamite to blow up tree stumps? Oh that’s stupid, ” she babbled.
”His dick blew up. He didn’t blow up. He broke it breeding a cow and now it’s swollen.”
Oh, I didn’t know you could break that. Well is that better than being blown to smithereens?
“What do you think?”
“I guess not.”
“Indeed it does.”
Woke up Monday morning to the news that two fugitives were holed up somewhere around Big Twig. They were on the run and had abandoned their car and headed into the hills. At around Noon, word was that they might be heading South on the Boulder Road. That’s a mile from the ranch.
My husband, to be mild, is not an alarmist. I’ve never seen him “jumpy” unless somebody comes up to him from behind. He is one of the most laid back dudes I’ve ever met. So when I saw him lock the door, I was a bit surprised.
“I don’t want to be alone here when you go out to feed (the cattle bales of hay),” I mewed.
With that he went into the other room and came back with the Colt.
“You can pull back on the trigger and it will fire. But it will be hard to pull. So you can also cock the gun and then pull the trigger, ” he said as he laid the gun on my desk.
I just stared at him. Continue reading
Daphne had been laying awake at break of dawn because Mr. Robin Redbreast had started his infernal tweeting even earlier. She remembered listening to the rattling of the garbage trucks in New York City as they made their way down Columbus Avenue early in the morning when she had lived there many years ago. She had gotten used to them and they rarely woke her up. But Mr. Harbinger of Spring, was another story. She had to resort to ear plugs to get a good night sleep. She fell asleep wondering if the robin felt any ill will toward her or whether anthropomorphizing was ever a good idea.
But anyway it was time to get up and don her bathing suit, slip on a bathrobe and sandals, grab her beach towel and head to the 6AM water aerobics class in town. As she drove up to the city park, other women were getting out of their cars, also in long bathrobes, waddling their way up to the door of the tiny pool house like a gaggle of geese.
There were already a bevy of bathing beauties in the teeny pool. And soon the class of nineteen ladies would fill it three quarters full. As always, the usual gabfest was going on as they pumped their styrofoam dumbbells and did the Water Jog. (The gabfest was what really attracted Daphne to the class as it was a great source of information on all kinds of news.) The first topic was last night’s Jeopardy category of “The Simpsons” (way too hard unless you were a Simpsons’ fan or a crossword puzzle enthusiast) to the joy of eating hot dogs.
Daphne found the hot dog discussion particularly interesting. These tough rural and ranch gals wanted little to do with sausages that they had not made themselves, normally from the elk they had shot in hunting season. When Daphne had moved to Little Twig twenty years ago, she was surprised that her rancher husband ate every kind of meat except hot dogs and veal because he “knew too much about how they are made” to be comfortable with devouring those delicacies. And these women too wanted no part of mystery meat. Oddly enough, three of us had hot dogs yesterday for lunch.
Earleen said that she hadn’t had a hot dog in two years, but suddenly found herself buying and scarfing one down yesterday. Gail said that sometimes a hot dog is the best thing on a hot day like yesterday.
The water aerobics instructor, Sharon, yelled out (and she had to yell over the din of the class’s chattering hot dog talk), “OK, let’s switch to the Bicycle!”
As Daphne started to bicycle sideways and swirling her dumbbells, she said, “I bought some organic hot dogs at the Community Coop” and ate one yesterday too.”
Gail snorted, “Organic? A Hot Dog?”
Daphne said, “OK, it just says it doesn’t have anything too obnoxious in them and the cows are grass-fed.”
Gail said, “I’ll stick to my elk. We put up 500 pounds last fall.”
“That’s a lot of sausage,” Earleen replied.
Sharon yelled out, “Lawn Chair!” and the women started laying out flat and then tucking their tummies in.
Suddenly one of the Ospreys that live in the park swooped over the gals. She was carrying a twig in her mouth.
“Look, they’re building a new nest on that telephone pole,” said Becky.
Earleen looked perplexed, “What’s wrong with the old nest on the other pole over there?”
“I heard that they lost their eggs in the hail storm last week,”Gail replied sadly.
“Yes, and then a bald eagle decided to take it for himself,” Sharon said indignantly.
“Well, that’s just mean,” Earleen retorted.
For once, the pool was quiet and all that could be heard was the swish, swish, swish of mermaids and their dumbbells.
Daphne quietly paddled in the opposite direction and wondered if her robin also “was just mean”. “No”, she thought, “he just can’t help himself. It was going to be a beautiful day in Big Sky Country and he just had to sing about it.” And yes, what a warm and uncomplicated way to start the day. Paddling around with big- hearted gals and determined ospreys.