The ranch in summer. Its lush and green and yellow and smells of vegetation and clover and dirt and the backs of horses. Its been warm and sticky during the day and cool at night, perfect timing for pulling the windows open and laying on top of the sheets in my jammies while I read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer” or, if I’m feeling particularly vegged-out and relaxed, watch the latest episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance…” (Hey, my interests are broad, don’t judge–I think it might be the best show on television.)
Anyway, yes, summer at the ranch. It’s quite lovely most of the time. Even more so when you are blessed with a day of rain in the beginning of August guaranteeing the countryside a few more weeks of green.
That was the case on Friday. It was gloomy and rainy all day and I was happy knowing that I didn’t have to water my flowers, and actually, come to think of it, I never really had to water them at all this summer.
Yes, and all of this moisture has been great for the lawn too, you know, the lawn I battled with in the beginning of June. Because once I got the forest knocked down, husband and I have been maintaining it, grooming it, weed whacking the crap out of it, and admiring our neon green, lush, nearly town-material lawn that surrounds the barn and almost distracts from the broken down garage.
Things were going well. We are on the downslope of summer and the lawn was still immaculate.
So I was kinda happy with the rain on Friday. I was pleased with the cool down and the chance to stay inside, eat husband’s homemade knoephla soup, and write some new music. And the next day, while it was still a drizzle, husband and I headed out the door to take an engineering student who was visiting from Sweden on a tour of the oil field activity in the area.
We had a great day planned for him and I was excited to learn about what husband does all day (besides driving around and checking on things…which is the explanation I have been giving to friends and family for the past three years…) It was also nice to get to know someone our age from across the ocean and learn that we have so much in common over one of the best steaks I’ve ever had cooked for me at a restaurant. Seriously, if you haven’t been to The Bison Room in New Town, NDmake a date with your spouse, your gram, your kids, your best friend, yourself, whatever, but get there. They know what they’re doing. Ok, so there’s my western North Dakota traveling/tourist tip for you, now on with my captivating and intense story…
So there I was sitting shotgun in husband’s pickup at 8:30 pm on our way back to the ranch. I was full and pleased and ready for a nice Sunday spent maybe, oh, I don’t know, picking chokecherries, riding, cleaning, reading or mowing the lawn.
But it turns out the cows had other plans for us.
Because while we were out frolicking in the oil field and probably feasting on one of their cousins for dinner, the cows were waiting in the bushes for our taillights to disappear over the hill and out of sight. See, on their schedule was a picnic. A picnic of short, lush, well groomed, green grass growing before their big, brown eyes. So as soon as we hit the highway they skipped on over, pulled out their lawn chairs and coolers, staked out the volleyball net, the croquet set, the Norwegian horseshoes, and proceeded to have themselves a regular old block party…all 150 women, their offspring and their two boyfriends.
And all in my, lush, beautiful, neon green, rain-saturated yard.
I’ll tell you they must have been looking for us, you know, to invite us to the festivities, because the evidence of their attempts to break in were in the deep footprints dug in right up to the basement door, and the living room window, and the bathroom window, and the bedroom window. They really didn’t want us to miss it. I mean, I’m sure croquet is more fun when you invite guests with opposable thumbs.
And judging by the size and numbers of plops in my yard, I am guessing the eating was as good as their games.
It smells like shit.
That’s what I said when we pulled into the yard in the dark and I stepped out of the pickup and into a fresh cow pie.
And as I scuffled my way to the front door, sniffing the pungent air, the illumination from the barnyard light revealed small reflections on water puddles in the lower yard, right next to the retaining wall and the flowers my grandmother planted that, um, used to be there…what the hell?
Is that mud?
Is that water sitting in deep crevices shaped like hundreds and hundreds of hoof prints?
Is that poop? I keep stepping in poop? Is it? I can’t see?!!
Where are the damn dogs?
Snort, snort, slobber, slobber, yawn, whap, whap, whap.
Oh, there they are. Sleeping on the deck.
I growled to husband as we deduced that all signs pointed to a flaw in the system. The system where you have dogs on a ranch to keep the cows out of the yard.
Or to help you get them out of the heavy brush when you’re riding.
Or to assist you as you herd them through a gate.
That would be the idea of a cow dog.
But, oh yeah, that’s right. We don’t have cow dogs. We have dogs whose only purpose is to eat, sleep, poop in front of the stoop, drag dead things to the deck in front of our door and apparently party with the cows.
3,000 acres and you party at my house?
Countless energy of screaming at you two dogs to get back, to stop chasing the damn cows, and you choose this day, these six hours, to actually obey a rule!!!
Hours spent in the sweltering sun clipping and whacking and working to create an acceptable carpet of grass and all I’m left with is three thousand cow plops, ankle deep mud, an invasion of flies and a bad farmer’s tan???!!!
I stormed inside and booked a flight to Sweden. Because I have a new friend there and he said we could come to visit anytime.
So I hope you’ll stick with me on my journey abroad and check out my adventures coming soon on my new blog: Meanwhile, back in Stockholm…
Oh, and if you love me, do me a favor tonight…eat beef!