Back In The Saddle Again

After many months of winter and then recovery from knee surgery, “I’m Back In The Saddle Again”…quoting the old cowboy song. Come along for a springtime ride on the Plains.

This is the road that leads to the corrals…

At long last, I’ve got my feet in the stirrups again! For my first ride after surgery, I chose to ride The Best Horse In The Universe, “Dolly”. She and I both had birthdays in April – me, double nickels (55) and she, double deuces (22). I think we’re about even in age at this point in our lives. Morgan Horses generally have a little more longevity working for them than other breeds (except for ponies). We’ve both earned the label ‘vintage cowgirls’. Many of the photos I’ll be sharing in this article were taken via the ‘Dolly-cam’. Well, if I wasn’t actually on her, she was often next to me grazing. For this article, pictures are going to be the storytellers, I’ll offer a few details for an assist. Like all of you, I’m smitten with being OUTSIDE again!

I love to walk in the pasture early in the mornings – below: the Sorrel is blooming and it is as red as it looks. The leaves are very good in salads – they look kind of like an arrowhead and have a mild vinegar flavor. I take the dogs and away we go…me in my Boggs boots & nightgown…plus a cup of coffee or my camera. Quite a fashion statement. I suppose I could get dressed beforehand, but I can’t stand to wait! This morning, the dew was heavy. Above, “Ribbon”s muzzle was wet with dew from grazing, as were the wildflowers. Oh, it smelled divine. The Mountain Bluebirds were flitting about looking for bugs to take back to their week old babies. Even though I mounted six official bluebird houses here & there, they insist on making their home in the end of an iron pipe on our corral. Ingrates :o)  The Tree Swallows siezed the opportunity and are still sitting on their nest in the house near my studio window. I wired an old dead cedar on the post to give them a few more places to land. Now the photos…

Above: Penstemon, Wild Sweet Peas, Lupine.

Below: The swallow’s house and nest. The front of the birdhouse has a slider clasp so that you can flip the front piece down and clean it out; (which also let me take a photo of the nest for you). Not to worry, the parents waited patiently for me and it took only a moment for me to snap the picture while I stood on a footstool.

I reduced the photo above so that the eggs would be the exact size they are in real life. I was somewhat surprised that there are seven eggs and they’re actually quite large for such tiny birds. Below: Mama and Papa.

The creek is high in the spring, but after it goes down, there is a lot of old grass left behind. It is mostly very small pieces – just right for the birds to make good use of for nest building. The other day, I noticed a little ground squirrel skitter across the driveway with a heaping mouthful of it. I’m sure she was headed for her burrow to prepare a nest of her own. While on the subject of nests, did you know that if you collect chicken down feathers (for those that have chickens), if you toss them up in the air on a breezy day, Tree Swallows will dive down and snatch them and then take the prize to their nests for that last layer of softness? Barn Swallows really like horse mane or tail hair; the birds work it free from where they find it snagged on fence wire.

My garden is coming along nicely. We’ve had a cold, wet spring and consequently green life is a little behind, but oh is it beautiful. This ought to be a bumper crop year for hay. Driving the swather will be my job in the very near future. I’ll take you for the ride when we get to that place in time.

My Buckeye pullets are almost feathered out now and old enough to enjoy life as free rangers.

So many things are in bloom…trees, shrubs, wildflowers…both domestic and wild Iris. The Honeysuckle above was in bloom near a friend’s corral. The Lilacs are about done. That has to be one of the most divine fragrances there is. And, the Stocks that I planted around the rim of my garden tank did not disappoint, I can smell their sweet scent as I open the garden gate.

I’ll have to look up in my wildflower book what these fuzzy little darlings are. UPDATE: A farmgirl friend just old me that these are called Pussy Toes — perfect name. Thanks Terry W!

My garden junk collection continues to grow! Rusted out pots make great wind protectors for newly planted tomatoes.

Last night, the moon was full and it seemed to be brighter than usual and eager to get on with casting a silvery glow over all the world. Dark colored horses are impossible to see in the dark of the moon and even when there is moonlight, but Ribbon is like a firefly :o)

I’m still working on transforming a spare bedroom into my studio sweatshop and this little cupboard will hold craft supplies. But first, I think I’ll sand her down some and soften & warm up that electric hue of yellow with some walnut stain. She’s just too bright now that I see her inside. Any ideas for possibly embellishing the door? Or should I just leave it alone?

Ok, that was enough of being inside! Back to the great outdoors. We went to a branding the other day (to help friends). Here are the photos…

The photo at the very top of this page was taken while we were gathering the herd. In this photo, the cattle were in the corrals and then the business of seperating calves from cows began. The cows receive a vaccination and are “poured” with a dose of liquid that rids them of parasites. The calves are usually given “7 Way” vaccine, steers castrated, all branded. Our branding took place 2 weeks ago. I wasn’t there since my job was in the kitchen cooking for the branding crew. In the past, my job at the branding was vaccinating – sometimes with 2 guns with 2 different vaccines. In recent years, however, I morphed into photographer since there is usually a LOT of help. Later, I give the folks photo CDs of their branding. I want to think it will mean more to them years from now since it is an annual family & friends event. Brandings is where I first acquired my shutterbug hobby.

Above: My husband was about to tie his horse up for awhile after the gather was made. It was a chilly morning. We all wore layers! You might wonder where this cowboy’s cowboy hat is. Well, in our part of the country, WIND is a big factor in the spring and you can tighten a baseball cap so that it won’t blow off.

My brother-in-law’s horse was tied up prior to the branding while cows & calves were being worked apart. He (Earl) is below manning the branding stove. He is also my Christmas tree hunting pardner.

Above: The branding officially begins! There are generally about three ropers roping the calves (by two hind feet). Every age of human being is present and most have a job. The very young watch and learn, the elderly just enjoy being outside and watching the young people do what they did for so many years.

The younger kids learn to wrestle with an adult and they wait to do that with some of the smaller calves. Men and women alike rope. Some of the other jobs include ear-tagging, vaccinating, “nut bucket” and spraying the sack with antiseptic.

Little cowgirls and cowboys play or ride their horses near the branding site.

Sometimes you have a wardrobe mishap and have to call for help…

Not all angels have wings, some of them have pointy ears…like this saintly old mare who is a 10 on the patient meter :o) She is worth her weight in gold. If there are horses in Heaven, she’ll one day wear a halo. Look at the ittybitty saddle on her back. It now serves the grand-daughter of a friend I went to school with. He once rode in this same saddle, as did his father.

Above & below: “His & Mine”…as in my husband’s horse, “Chevis” and my beloved Dolly. They were just hangin’ out while the branding was going on. Lynn roped a little, but spent most of the branding with an iron in his hand. The photo below is one of my very favorite photos that I’ve ever taken. It captures the empathic friendship between horses that know each other well. Chevis (left), Dolly (right). Its a December/June romance…he’s ten years younger than her ;o)

The branding was over & done with just about lunch-time and after enjoying a wonderful meal provided by the ranch owners, we all headed home. Time to hang up my bridle until another day. I hope you enjoyed your visit here and can maybe even smell the sage from where you’re sittin’.

  1. Debbie says:

    O.k. Shery! Now you’re just messin’with me! All of this post is wonderful and your photos just spectacular, but here’s the deal from here on out… if you’re gonna post pictures of sagebrush you better be prepared to send me a snip or two in the mail! One thing I didn’t mention in my previous BEACH BLOG post was the fact that one of the gals in my chapter hails from Wyoming (Once upon a time, she stumbled upon a handsome Yankee in her travels too; she’s a transplant like me) and carries sagebrush in her truck. She brought it inside during our meeting to share it with the other gals "who haven’t been to the West." She and my mom and I had a little sagebrush love fest that night in my kitchen! We just kept sniffing it and saying Ahhhhhhh! Nothing beats the smell of the high desert after a gentle rain… dirt and sage and fresh air mingle together creating the most refreshing scent. Hey, we need to make a perfume out of it! Now, on to the horsey pics!!! Lovely… especially ‘yours and his’. Thanks for this inspiring visual of your cherished ranch life and congrats for being " back in the saddle again "…
    farmgirl hugs!
    Deb (your beachy farmgirl blogging sister)

    P.S. I’m not kidding about the sagebrush… I’m emailing you my snail mail address RIGHT NOW! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Debbie says:

    The yellow cabinet: I love your idea of sanding it and aging it a bit with antiquing glaze. There are also waxes available that are tinted that give a similar effect and leave a matte finish which is nice. The door: I like decoupage too and can picture some vintage images (which you love and collect)or some of your photography adhered in a collage fashion, perhaps with some inspiring text incorporated on the door. Red cottage roses would be pretty and romantic! Anything that would inspire you in your new creative space! Have fun! The yellow it is now reminds me of our kitchen at the cottage!
    Deb (MJFBeachfarmgirl)

  3. Rene Foust says:

    I love it!!! The pictures are so wonderful, they make you feel like you are there. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Brenda says:

    Glad you are all healed and living the life you love in the saddle. I lived in the city for so long that I never think about going out the door before getting dressed for the day. I think I miss a lot sitting inside with my coffee before hitting the blow dryer and dressing for work. Here I live with the woods between us and our neighbors. I think I will take my coffee out with me in the morning and sit on my deck in the morning and read my devotional outside. Your pictures are lovely. Love ‘his and hers’, love it. I live Deb’s idea of decoupage on your cupboard.

  5. Su says:

    I love the pictures! There’s no comparision to the country life.

  6. Terri says:

    I look foward to reading your postings and enjoying the photographs. Both take me to places that I have never experienced and they always enrich my day.

    Thank you.

  7. Terry wright says:

    The fuzzy little things are called "pussy-toes"!!

  8. Rachelle says:

    Love, love, love your photos! Ah I can just feel the cool breeze! What we would give for some chilly mornings here in Texas! Here everything is just about dried up. Gave up on the garden, it is burned to a crisp. No grass for the horses or cattle around here. So it is very refreshing to see your pictures and read your blog. Glad your surgery went well and you’re back in the saddle. :o)

  9. MartiBee says:

    So were you sore after your first day back?

    I want your life. Ranching is soooo much more different here in the State of Florida.

    And, of course there are horses in heaven. That’s why it’s called heaven.

    Keep up the great blogging. I always look forward to your entries.

  10. Joyce Wiley says:

    Ok, so you made me homesick for Daddy’s ranch in Wyoming! I live in Colorado now, but used to get to do all those things on Daddy’s ranch. It is a good life!

  11. bonnie elllis says:

    Shery, You did it again. What a wonderful group of pictures of your life. I can get back in the saddle again after my broken femur. I am SO glad you are able to ride also. You share your love of your life with all of us. Thanks

  12. What wonderful pictures! We farm here in Nebraska, lots of flatland, (between Grand Island and the big town of Chapman)! I love the wide open spaces and love my horses! I own three gals (mares)…Sherri, Georgia and Mia. Mia is in
    training (she is 3) with me. I wish I had the plains to ride her in instead of "roundpen" time. Anyway, again, your pictures are devine! Thanks for sharing them.

  13. Dirtduchess says:

    Beautiful pictures. Your life is a lot like mine in Texas. Our roundups are a bit smaller than yours. But the work is the same. I have been off my horse for over two years. A mama cow didn’t like my closeness to her new calf. She attacked me twice. I received two splintered bones in my right leg. I am up and walking. But I haven’t had the nerve to get on my horse. I know how happy you are to be back in the saddle.

  14. Brenda says:

    Thank you for sharing part of your days, the pictures were all beautiful and you made me feel like I was right there. Hope you aren’t too sore after getting back in the swing of things; makes me wish I lived near you. I have horses and because of things in life happening I haven’t been able to ride much but maybe someday.

  15. Marsha says:

    I love your blog, it is so uplifting. You certainly know what is important in life.

    I just wanted to give you my two cents about your yellow cabinet. I think it would look beautiful with little drilled holes in it that make a design; like a pie safe. That’s what I have been wanted to do to my bathroom cabinets.

    Double nickels plus one for me soon; and probably knee surgery :-/

    Life is good tho!

  16. Michelle Hoyt says:

    As always Shery, your photos and comments/ wisdom from the saddle and your view of life and loves on the range inspire me and make me feel kind of lazy! You walk the walk and talk the talk gal. Give Dolly a kiss on the muzzle from her ND friend.

  17. bonnie says:

    I like the idea of Chevis and Dolly images on your yellow cabinet…such sweet and touching photos, and you said she is a fav of yours…why not remember her on this chest?
    Herbs and Flowers from your native soil could be added for special touches…have lots of fun with it!

  18. Debbie Strong says:

    It is always such a pleasure to look at your wonderful pictures and read your upbeat words, Shery. Thank you so much for sharing your art.

  19. GeorgeG says:

    I am just now coming back from a horrible case of heat stroke. I even had to go to the hospital, but I knew the family was taking care of the ranch. I am glad I get to go back out there now, so I really understand how great it feels to get back in the saddle again.

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