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Archive for July, 2011

It has always amazed me how fast things can change.

One day your going along and everything is fine & dandy and then ‘bang’ something hits you from out of nowhere and your life changes.  Take for instance the forest fire.  Monday morning I was sitting at my desk working my little fingers to the bone and minding my own business when I hear the radio come to life across the hall at the Forest Service office.   The next thing I knew there was a fire headed straight for my home and I spent the rest of the week running between the cattle and the house wondering how much of our livelihood we would lose. 

But then suddenly, things change again and I’m not worried about the house and the cattle anymore – suddenly, I’m worried about a whole new set of problems. 

Let me explain.

By Wednesday the fire and excitement had started to ‘burn out’ and it looked like things were finally going to return to normal.  We could still see old snags and stumps burning on the mountain every night but most of the firefighting was happening south of us and we were pretty much ‘out of the woods’ – or so we thought.  There were still 2 fires burning to the south and since the boys in charge were toying with the ideal of letting the two small fires burn together that meant we had to get our cattle out of there – on one of the hottest days of the year.

I was dressed for work when we got the call so I called my boss, changed my clothes and Hubby and I saddled a couple of horses to made a quick pass through the area where most of our cattle have been. 

Maggie was my ride for the day – she was excited – can’t you tell.

Before we even got started the sun had pushed up the temperature to over 90 degrees but with the first pass we managed to bring home 22 pairs.  Too bad they weren’t all ours.  Since we were still missing quite a few we loaded the horses in the trailer and hauled them a couple of miles south then unloaded and headed home horseback, trying to gather cattle as we went.

The Forest Service permit we have is on fairly rough country with lots of pine and cedar trees and is split by several very deep ravines.  One of the ravines (or draws) leads to Lower Dugout which is a water tank set at the bottom of a ravine and fed by a natural spring.  Actually the water runs into Lower Dugout from Upper Dugout which gets its water from Dugout – the spring at the top.  I’m not sure who thought up these names but they obviously didn’t have much imagination.

Anyway, we dropped down into the draw below Lower Dugout hoping to catch a few cattle at the tank.  It is a beautiful place but not really the spot you want to be during a forest fire.  And even though we couldn’t see the smoke from the bottom we could tell the firefighters were having a bit of trouble holding the line because the huge Air Crane helicopter kept passing over us on his way to refill and believe me –  he wasn’t wasting any time. 

Following a steep cow trail we made our way into the bottom where it narrows to only 8 to 10 feet wide.  A rocky path winds through it for almost a mile before you reach the first tank where a trickle of water drains constantly from the tank – just enough to turn the clay soil into a sticky, gooey mess.  On both sides of this narrow path the canyon rises over 20 feet straight up with some of the most beautiful red clay walls you have ever seen.  I didn’t have a chance to take any pictures because just as we were trying to get around a very large tree in the very narrow draw my horse and I had a wreck.

I’m not sure if Maggie slipped on a rock or side-stepped into the tree but before I could say “Boy Howdy!” I was brushed off Maggies’ back and laying flat on the ground.  I’m not sure how it happened but somehow I ended up under my horse which is about the worst place to be and when Maggie’s back hoof came down it landed square on the front of my left hip – which is just about the worst place for a hoof to be.  But God bless Maggie and her heart of gold because as soon as she realized she was stepping on me she jerked her foot up and held it there as she swung her head around to see where I was.  I looked up at the white of her eye and the bottom of the cinch and thought ‘Crap, she’s going to fall on me’.  I tucked and rolled to my left toward the tree as Maggie fought to catch her balance, turning back toward me but still trying to avoid stepping on me in the narrow, tree-filled gully.  I heard the heavy ‘thump’ as one of Maggie’s  front hooves landed just to the right of my head while her back hoof caught the inside of my right leg – halfway between my knee and ankle.  I felt the hoof glance off the side of my leg but thankfully didn’t feel the snap of any bones and when Maggie’s back hoof finally touched the ground she lunged and jumped right over the top of me, ending up on the path behind me. 

All this took just a few seconds. 

Hubby had seen the whole thing and was sure I was either dead or dying.  But things were much better than they looked and I wasn’t in as bad a shape as I could have been.

After a few minutes of assessing the situation and making sure nothing was broken I was able to get back on my feet and walk the rest of the way out of the draw and then climb back in the saddle for the ride to the house.  Before we got home, my leg swelled up like a watermelon and I couldn’t twist my foot into the stirrup but that was a small inconvenience compared to what could have happened. 

Maggie was limping by the time we got home too but she was ready to go the next morning when Hubby went to look for more strays. 

I won’t post a photo of my ugly leg – lets just say it has many lovely shades of purple, green and yellow that wrap all the way around my leg – from my knee to the bottom of my foot.  I don’t want to look at it so I’m pretty sure you don’t want to either.  And yes, after 5 days of pain and swelling I did finally break down and go see Dr. Jolene – a beautiful lady whom I really do like.  I tried to tell her that I didn’t need X-rays because I had been walking on that leg since it happened but she just smiled and calmly replied,  “Yes, but you’re kind of a tough old broad and I can imagine you walking on a busted leg for a week.”

Thanks Dr. Jolene.

One Ultrasound and a couple of X-rays later I was declared free of broken bones and blood clots.  So even though it hurts like Hell – I will recover and be back to my ornery old self again soon.

I’m just thankful that I was riding Maggie – a horse who loves kids and women.

Lesson learned…  Don’t ever take life or a good horse for granted.

Thanks Maggie.

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I should not be allowed out in public…

On quiet country roads…

Alone and unsupervised…

And I should not be allowed to drive a pickup fitted with an interchangeable trailer hitch and a big honking diesel engine built to pull heavy loads.  This is a bad combination for someone like me – someone who falls in love very easily and someone who is incapable of saying ‘No’.  You see I have always had a problem with temptation.  It is a dangerous thing and for me ‘stuff’ is much too easy to drag home.

It happened again tonight.

“Look what followed me home, Hubby.  Can I keep her?”

I don’t know what happened…

It’s all just a blur…

One minute she was tucked back in the weeds, nearly hidden behind a big old horse trailer and the next minute she was hitched to my pickup.  Maybe it was magic, maybe it was fate or maybe it was a miracle sent straight from Heaven above. 

It really doesn’t matter.  All I know was that suddenly – ‘Poof ‘- she was there.

(OK – it actually took a shovel, a handy-man jack, a pair of channel locks and a can of spray lubricant to get her hitched to the pickup but you should have seen how fast I got-r-done!)

She is awfully cute and when I saw this kitchen it was all over for me – everything but the check writing.  I was smitten.  I was in love.   And I didn’t even notice the large mouse nest in the bottom cupboard.

And then there was the bed room complete with the original, 50-year-old olive drab canvas removable bunk bed/storage shelf hanging overhead.

OK, that’s not so cute right now but it will be.

And what about this great dining area complete with the bright red table and orange bench seats.

Yep, I’m betting that orange wasn’t the original color of the seats but the floor is original.

And so are the lights – both of them…

And so is this…

LOVE IT!!!

Yes, I shouldn’t be allowed to roam the back country roads alone and unsupervised but I do it every chance I get and sometimes I come across the bestest stuff ever – like a vintage 1960 Siesta travel trailer that measures a whopping 7 X 13 feet for a total of 91 square feet and 1,735 pounds of ever-loving potential. 

Yes, it’s true – she has been adopted and from this day forth she will be cared for and loved and known for ever more as

Ruby

Nadine’s little sister.

“Mom, she’s touching me!”

“Am not!’

“Are so!”

Look – they like each other!!!

 

I think I need some serious therapy!

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Has anyone out there missed me?

Well, I have certainly missed you!

Once again my dish was out of alignment and due to a couple of ‘snaff-oos’ it took better than a month to get someone out here to fix it.  But I’m back on the air waves now so look out!

I have so much to tell about all that has been going on but can only post a short note today as we have been surrounded on 3 sides by forest fires for the last 3 days and it looks like there will be more ‘fun and games’ today as they let 2 of the fires burn together – unfortunately that is right where some of our cattle are. 

But here are a few of my favorite photos from the last few days:

If you look really hard you can see our house right in the ‘crook’ of the backhoe arm.

I LOVE SLURRY BOMBERS!!!  THESE GUYS ARE MY HEROS!!!

AND HELICOPTER PILOTS RANK RIGHT UP THERE WITH THEM!!!

They have been dipping water from one of our stock dams and thankfully it is spring fed so the level hasn’t even begun to drop.  Check out this one.

That would definately give a person nightmares if you had never seen an air crane before.

And last but not least – don’t worry about Nadine – the guys are looking out for my little camper and this picture is definitely going into her ‘baby’ book.

God bless firefighters!

 

 

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