The ranch and the weather

Hoping for the weather to cooperate
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Last Friday a grass fire began to rage up north near our neighbors’ house. I had planned to have our Arizona-turned-North Dakota friends over to help feed the bottle baby calf, pet the horses and make them a proper Tater Tot hotdish.

They were coming over at 5, and my husband left to fight a fire at 1. I asked him, stupidly, as he was rushing out the door, “Do you think you’ll be home by 5?” And of course, he replied, “I hope so!”

And I hoped so too. Not just because I wanted him home in time for hotdish and friend-hosting, but because it would mean that they would have that fire under control by then.

The face of a fireman

On Saturday, the wind died down and the sun shone so bright that my oldest daughter couldn’t help but strip off her shirt and play in the dirt left waiting for the spring petunias in our flowerpots. I sat my husband down on a stool on the deck, he pulled his shirt off as well and I started to clip and buzz and cut the winter hair that had grown long on his head, shedding another layer as we moved slowly into a new season that was feeling so different than all the springs before it. Crocuses and muddy puddles, plum blossoms and new grass blades evaporated by a sky that just won’t give up the moisture.

That afternoon, looking a little less like a mountain man, my husband went out to check the cows and found a tiny calf, just barely over 30 pounds, left trying to get milk off her sick mother. He scooped her up in his arms and brought her down to the barnyard where I was brushing out horses and the girls were taking turns seeing how high they could climb the corral panels before they became too scared to jump off.

The tiniest calf we’ve ever seen

I just helped Rosie up on Tootsie and was watching the fluffy, old, partially blind mini horse wander around the barnyard with my youngest on board, when my husband arrived with a calf the size of a small goat — and just like that, the ponies were old news. The girls squealed and sprung to action with pets and snuggles, concerned looks, bottle-holding and more questions about calf poop and umbilical cords turned to belly buttons.

Little Mommies

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Chad and I quietly hoped that poor little baby and her mom might make it through the night and told the girls to be careful now. Not so high. Why don’t you come down and help get these calves some fresh hay to lie on?

With my niece, the animal whisperer

The next day we woke up to rain, just enough to coat the ground and make us dare hope for more. We mixed up three big bottles for the two calves and the girls dug for their rain jackets and rushed out the door to dance in it. “Rain!” they hollered. “It’s raining!” And they twirled and ran and jumped and danced as if there was no way to contain themselves. As if, in their tiny little bones, they understood what a miracle it was.

If I wasn’t holding three big ‘ol calf bottles with a mission to finally get to the barn after two pancake refills, a hair-brushing argument, a hunt for the right mittens, two boot changes, two coat changes and a trip back for a snack for the way, I might have danced, too. And alongside the road on our way to the barn, the baby calves kicked up their heels, running and bucking and playing just like my daughters, thrilled for the drops on their backs.

We tucked our girls in that night too late and we both fell asleep beside them while our muddy boots worked on drying off in the entryway, our cattle bedded down in the draws and the rain quietly turning to snow to pile up to 3 inches on our thirsty land.

And so on Sunday, we dug out the snow pants, caps and mittens, fed a little more hay and found another stray calf, maybe the twin to the tiny one we’re still fussing over. And hoping for… just like I hoped, on Friday, when the land was burning up, that my husband might be home in time for supper…

A country girl’s guide to hitting the big town.

When you are a ranch woman or woman living at a ranch…

or a female who loves her serene country lifestyle even if it exists at least 30 to 70 miles away from the nearest shopping mall/friendly neighborhood coffee joint/specialty pub/bowling alley/mexican restaurant…

or a lady who happens to have an extensive fancy shoe collection hiding out under her bed but mostly just plops around in muck boots whenever she pulls her hair up to leave the house…

or just a plain old country girl surrounded by dogs and dirt and sky, there are certain and particular instances where you may have to leave the cats and the cowboy hat clad hubby in the dust, pluck your eyebrows, apply heat to your hair, dig out those shoes and head toward civilization to get some things done.

..like when you realize you actually let someone document you in this outfit...

Yes, even though it takes a certain amount of coaxing for some, it is necessary, can and should be done for the sanity and femininity of our species.

That being said, besides the sudden realization that it may be necessary to pay attention to her outer appearance, there are a list of activities that increase a country girl’s odds of painting her toenails and taking the long highway to the big city.

One of the items on this particular list has to do with work, of course.  Occasionally a ranch woman treks to the big city in order to network with other country girls, to learn about her profession and to talk it out the way women do so well.  But rural girls are resourceful and if they are going to go all that way for the sake of professional development there is no way she is going to pass on the opportunity to enjoy the other items on the aforementioned list:

Shopping

Eating

Dancing

And all of the above are done with a passion that only a remote country girl can possess for the activities that city girls, surrounded by such luxuries,  have come to take advantage of.

Luxuries like the easy access to pizza prepared in someone else’s oven, seventeen-thousand coffee choices, buffalo wings, specialty margaritas and brand new jeans of every shape, size and color waiting for you around every corner.

It should go without saying that in these situations country ladies waste no time and take no prisoners. And while we are waking up early to drive to the coffee-shop to get started on that list of specialty brews to help propel us through Hobby Lobby and Bed Bath and Beyond and Home Depot and all the quaint downtown gift shops before lunch at our favorite restaurant where we order a fancy cocktail, an appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert then take a deep breath of preparation to tackle the next phase of taking on the town and every store at the mall, we are busy making plans for the dancing.

Cue photo montage of a few country girls in action so you can catch the vibe I’m throwing…

a toast with a dear friend to beer I didn't have to buy in a box and drive thirty miles home...

The music...

The mayhem...

ahem..

Taming it down with a dinner date with one of the country cousin's cute offspring...

and finishing up with a cute cousin sandwich...

Ok moving right along…

So while country girls immerse themselves in life between stoplights and restaurants and pavement, back at the ranch the snow carries on with the melting, the grass with the growing, the clouds with the rolling, the husband with the working, the horses with the grazing. We call home in the morning and get the report and most of the time it’s “Oh, nothing new, just working….the weather’s been shitty, the dogs ran away…nothing new at all.”

But sometimes a country girl, a ranch woman donning the appropriate footwear choses to hit the big town for a week and accidentally misses a milestone, some activity, a transaction, a big exciting, adorable event and nothing she can purchase or drink or stroll around in the big town could compare to being on the road on her way back home…

to find this walking out into the barnyard…

to tend to the newest additions to the Veeder Ranch….

Sigh…

This country girl’s not going anywhere for a while…

And while I love my fancy shoes and seventeen thousand unattainable flavors of coffee and music ringing in the streets from open bar doors, it is and always will be…

so sweet to be home.