On bighorn sheep and humans…

Oh my gosh you guys, look at this. 
It’s a baby bighorn sheep. He’s trying to get down to his momma.

And then look here, here’s the herd of nannies and babies I spotted a few weeks ago on a little drive through the badlands on my home turf.

The bighorns are badlands residents that I don’t get to see too often. In fact, this sighting was only my second in all the years I’ve lived and roamed around here.

So I was pretty excited to find a whole clan of mommas hanging out on a cliff in the badlands, posing for me.

These badlands that we live on the edge of are full of surprises, changing every day, every few minutes even, with the shift of light and weather.

Change is a big topic out here in these boomtowns exploding with growth above the shale formation where we’re busy extracting millions of barrels of oil.

Somedays are harder than others to get around, to make plans to accept that there are things that simply will never be the same. And this is both for the worse and for the better and that can be a hard thing to explain to people wanting to hear that it’s all black and white.

If I’ve learned anything from living back at the ranch it is that this world is full of blending colors…

Somedays I don’t feel like talking about it. Somedays I do.

But that day I was taking a drive outside of town, scoping out a spot for an oil truck  photoshoot.

A shiny oil truck in the middle of the badlands.

Not my usual subject and sort of a funny juxtaposition of industry and beauty…

I was kicking up dust on a gravel road, me and about a dozen other pickups, along the Little Missouri River, when I got a glimpse of this little family…

And so I slowed down and watched them eating on the yellow clover, twitching their tails at the bugs and content and unconcerned with the world outside the fence moving and changing so quickly around them.

I stepped out of my car to get a closer look. A trucker stopped with his camera.

And then a car. And another pickup.

Working people behind out of state license plates taking a marvel, taking a second to admire these mommas.

The guests came and went but I stayed for a bit longer, like a visitor at a zoo, studying their behavior, admiring how they move so easily up and down the cliffs. How they were made for this place.

I think I was made for this place. Most days I do. I was made to defend it and scuff my boots on it. I was made to witness it in all of its changes.

In its struggles.

In its best moments.

I was made to tell its story if I can. To ask questions and make sure I take notice of things that are just so spectacular. Things that we might miss if we drive too fast.

Sometimes I think we’re all driving too fast.

Maybe in another life I’ll be something like a  bighorn sheep momma, with just a few simple tasks, eating and moving and keeping us all alive….

Then again, maybe that’s all we’re really trying to do here…as humans…

15 thoughts on “On bighorn sheep and humans…

  1. Sometimes I think we’re all driving too fast.

    Yes, but how hard to slow once you have all that energy pushing you along.

    Nice piece, I do enjoy reading about your life on the ranch, about the space and the land, makes me feel very comfortable knowing it’s out there.


  2. In the years I lived there, I never saw bighorn sheep. You are so lucky! Those are just wonderful pics of them! Love your pictures.

  3. Hubby & I just had a motorcycle ride around the South Unit of the park. I looked so hard to see some of these guys. All I got were buffalo and Prairie Dogs and a few horses. I was bummed. Thank you for taking a million photos and sharing them. I am jealous.

  4. In Brazil, sang a beautiful song that goes like this: I want a house in the country
    Where I can compose many rural rocks
    And make sure only
    Friends of the chest and nothing else

    I want a house in the country
    Where I can get the size of the Peace
    And make sure only
    Limits body and nothing else

    I want sheep and goats
    Grazing solemn in my garden
    I want the silence of tired languages
    I want the hope of glasses
    And my son legal cuca
    I want to plant and harvest by hand
    Pepper and salt

    I want a house in the country
    The ideal size, wattle and daub and thatch
    Where I can plant my friends
    My books and records and nothing else

    Where I can plant my friends
    My records, my books and nothing else
    Where I can plant my friends
    My books and records and nothing else.

  5. I bet it was awesome seeing those beautiful bighorns! I see them every once in a while when I’m flying around in the badlands. Beautiful photos and story Jessie!

  6. back in the 80’s, when I worked in the oil field, I was driving down a dirt road and came around a corner and there they were. A whole herd. I only saw them for 15 or 20 seconds, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.

  7. Wow, what great pictures! I love that you seem so in tune with nature… something I’ve got to do more of. In the mean time, I’ll live vicariously through your writing and photos. Thanks for sharing! Jen

  8. Thank you, this was beautiful, and you’re right, it’s all complicated shades of grey where most folk are just trying to get by the ways they know how. Please keep speaking for your land. I’m a long way away from mine and I miss it.

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