It was time to replenish supplies and because the only other person able to care for our animals in our absence was leaving for a month to visit family and we wanted to avoid the Christmas rush, we headed out on the 4 ½ hr trip to town.
Randyman hooked up the trailer the night before, and loaded up all the large coolers out of the ranch walk-in. Everything has to go into coolers to either stay frozen on the long trip home or just to keep the dust out of it, as driving the 50 miles of dirt road coming into the ranch tends to push dirt into everything.
We awoke hours before dawn, threw on some clothes, tossed some essentials into a small bag for emergency and headed to the barn to load a horse. We were to deliver her on the way. She was a mare, and mares aren’t too popular here on the ranch. All the horses need to be working stock and more often than not, mares tend to be moody, kicky and also cause the geldings to fight over her. My little mare is no exception. She was often marked by teeth and hooves across her body as dominant geldings attempted to haze her into their small clan to keep the others away from her.
It had been snowing and freezing and the dirt road going out was firm and fairly smooth, from the snow but the paved county road was slick and icy.
About an hour and a half into the drive, the sun began to rise, with black, blue and scarlet hues appearing over the small mountains in the distance. Ice crystals covered the brush on the side of the road and the ground sparkled like it was littered with diamonds. Further ahead, low clouds and fog shrouded the desert valleys like an ocean and we could see another set of headlights in the distance, showing we were not alone on the 200 mile stretch of road that snaked along toward our destination.
With a healthy case of nerves, I began to ramble about this or that, hoping to keep us both well awake and to cover my uneasiness with the less-than-ideal conditions and limited vision.
Climbing over a pass, we were jolted by movement, as the horsetrailer began to whip and slide across the ice, yanking the back of the pickup from side to side, while Randyman worked hard to keep us on the road and avoid sailing over the edge into the canyon below. That plummeted me into silence for the next 20 miles or so, as I struggled to regain my composure and fight the tears that followed the ensuing panic. All the hospital stays from my wrecks in recent years kept going through my mind. It was the first time I have ever been HAPPY to arrive in a CITY.
We dropped off the mare and headed to the Livestock Supply. A good deal of our paycheck was laid out for feed and minerals for our personal cows, goats, and sheep. 10 large bags of dogfood were acquired for the Maremmas, Cider and Scottie. Steer panels and tarps were purchased for building a temporary shelter for Dolly and EmmaLou cow. Late that afternoon we finally stopped to eat and made the decision that we would stay in town overnight to avoid an accident going down the icy hills heading to home.
The following morning, we headed to Costco to complete our grocery shopping and head home, hoping for an early start. The boss called needing some errands run, so we got those done and we were clearly going to finish our shopping quite a bit later than we had hoped. We opted to shop the Costco in Boise so we could zip straight home from there.
We don’t have phone service on the ranch, other than a satellite phone, which only works when the spirit moves it. Cell phones will pick up reception occasionally, depending on how far away from the mountain we are. There is a large peak that blocks the signal from us, so the closest place to use the phone is over a mile from the house. Paying $50 a month for a phone we can’t use unless we were in town together seemed pretty foolish to me, so I cancelled the service. We decided getting a ‘track’ or prepaid phone was a better idea, in case Randy got stuck in the desert, running wells. The guy at the kiosk in Costco asked for my license and said he would have a phone ready in 15 minutes.
We did the remainder of our shopping, pushed the carts out to the horse trailer, packed all our goods into the large coolers and headed home. It takes close to an hour to get from Boise to Nampa, and holiday traffic didn’t help matters. We passed the Nampa Costco and realized, my license and phone were still in Boise. That turned us around and added another 2 hours to our trip…which was already behind schedule.
The weather had been warm, ice and snow had melted, so the trip home was uneventful, except for the last 36 miles. I stared off into the expanse of desert searching for the wild horses that are often seen near, and sometimes ON, the road. Highway speeds of 55 to 70 are nice, as there is almost never another vehicle, but it can be deadly when meeting up with livestock or wildlife. Deer, antelope, wild horses, cattle and other critters often amble across the highway, and can wreak havoc on unprepared or unwitting drivers. Dark clouds hovered over us but didn’t unleash their burdens until we were off of the pavement.
Turning off the highway and onto the dirt road leading home, it began to rain and the road was so soupy and slimey, it was nearly sucking us off the road and into a bar ditch and even with 4WD, we had a hard time negotiating any sort of rise in the road.. We made it home nearly 2 hours after dark, 2 days after we started out.
THAT my friends, is why we only grocery shop 4 times a year.