Meanwhile, the cows are getting out…

Some summer weekends are spent in the car rushing to get to the next destination, some summer weekends are spent cleaning out garages full to the brim with stuff gathered over years and years of saving, some summer weekends are spent on the water, some are spent in tents, some are spent washing windows and scrubbing floors, some are spent at weddings, some are spent singing for your supper, some are spent in bed sick with the flu…

Ahhh, summer, short-lived and spectacular around here, jammed packed with all of the above. Oh, if only I could read a book while relaxing on a blanket in the sun while tearing down the old garage while enjoying a cocktail while fixing the corrals while riding two horses at once while kayaking a crystal clear river while training for that marathon I swear I’ll run someday…

…if only…ah well…frolic, frolic, bask, swim, sing, work a little, climb, drive, camp, summer fun things and….

meanwhile, back at the ranch…

the cows are getting out.

Oh, there’s nothing like ranch living to bring you back down to earth. It’s a gift really, to slow us down and remind us why the hell we’re living here in the first place…and for the love of Martha there is work to do, so pay attention.

And this weekend husband and I had the ranch to ourselves while momma and pops enjoyed a much-needed extended holiday. That’s the nice thing about living as a two family unit on the ranch, there is generally someone to stick around to cover your ass. And mom and pops have been covering ours for a good portion of the summer and to be honest, I have been itching to cover theirs…

wait, that didn’t come out right…


Anyway, what I mean is I have been anxious to just stay home for a weekend and tinker around the barnyard, mow the lawn, work on tearing down that damn garage and watch the grass grow to unprecedented heights. Really, I’ve never seen it like this before. So on Saturday after we spent a good few hours sorting out old tires, a boat, a jeep, seventeen dressers, thirty-seven old grills and a microwave that may or may not have been my pops’ wedding gift to my momma, I threw my sweaty arms up in the air and declared it was time to go check on the cows.

Because there was a new mare in the barnyard I was anxious to ride, cool coulees calling my name, and hours of quiet time under the big setting sun…just what a girl with a scary old garage needed to decompress.

So we pulled on our boots, grabbed some bug spray and our horses and took off at a nice, leisurely pace to check the place.

I just have to take a moment here, before we get to those cows, to explain that even though I grew up here, even though I grew up here with this boy who became this man who rides this pretty bay horse, even though I walked these hills all my life and can hold this guy’s hand anytime I wanna, I still can’t believe I exist out here with him.

And on a night like Saturday night when the grass was tickling the bottoms of my boots, the tiger lilies were stretching out their petals and the new mare was stealing little nibbles of the clover anytime the softy on her back would let her, I was just blissed out to the max.

To the max.

So much so that I think I got off that mare approximately 15 times to measure the grass, to snap a photo, to pick a flower, to just mosey and stick my nose in sprouting things…

Poor, poor, patient husband…

So when we reached the gate to exit the fields and heard some conspicuous mooing coming from the next tree row, I was not disappointed that the cows were out.

Because it meant that we got to move them, my hubby and me.

And as the air was getting cooler and the sun was casting long shadows and kissing the tops of green hills, I tested out the mare’s trot while I headed west and husband headed east, loping that bay horse out across a sea of clover.

I got to use my cow-moving lingo (Example with left arm slapping my leg:  “Move on mommas…yip yip…come on babies..hya, hya…get along girls…” ) as the mare and I pushed the reluctant cattle through the tree rows and the lush grasses they had stumbled upon and weren’t so eager to leave behind.

I got to weave that mare back and forth along the back of the line, gathering and pushing nice and easy toward the gate, just like my pops taught me a long time ago.

And as I watched husband bring in a few scragglers from over the hill I realized something: It was just he and I out here doing this. Pops was a couple hundred miles away instead of in his usual spot next to us, giving us the plan of action, giving us advice and telling us where we needed to be. Pops was a couple hundred miles away trusting that we could keep it together and we were out here alone with these cattle in the wrong spot, just husband and I fixing a little mishap, taking care of things together.

I am sure we had done something like this before, the two of us. But at the moment we got those cattle in the right direction, moved them on up over the hill, made plans to fix up that fence and decided things had gone pretty smoothly it was the first time I truly believed that perhaps, the two of us, as a team, were capable of handling this ranch business ourselves after all.


Because I would be lying if I said I don’t have my doubts sometimes as I climb into bed next to his body and we listen to the crickets chirping outside our windows, the frogs singing their night songs. I would be lying if I didn’t wonder if it would be easier to buy a house in a suburb with a well manicured lawn, a nice clean garage, close to the grocery stores, conveniences and supportive friends down the block.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes the weight of it all, the thought of being out here without my father riding next to us, a little voice in our heads, our lifeline for the hard decisions, push down on me hard some days. Days when a horse and I have some major disagreements, days when I fall through the barn floor, days when the cows don’t gather but head for the brush in all different directions…

Those days pops is there to laugh and say there is always tomorrow.

But on Saturday we were given the best gift of summer. A gift of companionship, good horses, a beautiful night and the opportunity to show one another what we are made of.

And we might not have it together tomorrow, but on nights when the ceiling of this little house pushes on my confidence and makes me feel lonesome and crazy, I will close my eyes and think of Saturday…

and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that with all of the opportunity, all of the traveling and vacations and lake days and parties and music and summer adventures I was given these past few months, it was that day on the back of the new paint mare who couldn’t take a step without taking a bite of clover, next to the man I married, riding home with the setting sun on our backs, it was that day my smile was the biggest and I felt the most like me…

It was Saturday and there was nowhere else I would rather be…


19 thoughts on “Meanwhile, the cows are getting out…

    • Thanks for coming along with me Arletta! There is definitely beauty here, all the rain and sunshine has really made it more spectacular than ever. I have never seen so many wildflowers out here or such tall clover in all the years I have lived here. Thanks for appreciating it as much as I do!

  1. Keep this post handy when the old man winter is knocking at your door. The beauty of a summer’s evening on the prairie. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

  2. Love the simple beauties of life on the prairie… cows coming home, sun setting on one’s back…. truly glorious days of hard work well done! Keep on smiling… there’s always tomorrow to look forward to.

  3. Most women couldn’t relate to your tale of cows and horseback riding. They’d be all June Cleaver with their fancy clothes trying to decide what to fix for dinner. You found a man who likes your way of life, a family anyone could love and happiness. And, that’s more than most of us have.

  4. My dad was a dairy farmer but at one time I believe we had beef cattle..I was probably about 5 and the cows were out so my mom had to chase them back in..at the same time I was scared to death as the car started to roll down the ditch..yikes. And if things could get any worse, funnel clouds were spotted in the distance and thanks to my wonderful older brother..I was very scared. I do miss the simple life..ok not so simple but living in the country. Until next time, take care. Nicole

  5. Thank you for the gorgeous pictures. It makes me miss Colorado. For what it’s worth, I have a life in the suburbs and I think you have it better. Our garage is not clean, the foundation has settled and chipmunks are burrowing by our front door. We never seem to have enough time to mow the grass and, frankly, we’re better at growing moss than grass in the shady backyard. Some saturdays I spend way too much time running errands to Home Depot and the grocery store. I do have supportive friends next door, so there is that 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Amy! Isn’t that the thing, you can’t seem to keep that nature thing from creeping in on you, even in the city 🙂 But you know, mowing the lawn is way overrated, I am considering to let it grow, Pippi Longstocking style! Thanks for sharing a little piece of your life…here’s hoping this Saturday you get a chance to sprawl out on your green lawn (or moss) and enjoy the summer sunshine with your supportive neighbors.

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