Sunday, August 12, 2012

Critter Sitter

I can make the most simple things complicated. It’s my own fault because of the life I choose to lead. Not having my milk cow, garden, critters, raising our own meat and making all my own bread, etc. or any of those other things I do, would make my life easier, but not very tolerable. My house would be cleaner and easier to take care of, but would not be home. 
As a friend recently said to me, “You are awfully high maintenance for a  low maintenance person.”

In order to get an injection I need badly, to combat pain, I have to have someone drive me 4 hours into town. That means someone else has to be here at the ranch to take care of my horse, sheep, goats, calves, milk cow, companion dogs and guardian dogs. No small feat.

The boss’ youngest daughter, now 17,  agreed to take care of my stock. This is a girl who can ride and rope with the fact she DOES ride and rope with the best and shoot a gun, skin a deer, doctor calves, stack feed, endear herself to both children and adults, clean houses as well as cook for a crowd and she has been driving a pick-up truck and trailer full of horses since she was 10 years old and operates a tractor, backhoe, semi-truck and excavator with competency. Basically there isn’t much she cannot do and do well.
All the boss’ kids learned to ride not long after they could walk and to drive as soon as their feet could reach the floorboards, since the ranch itself is 400 sq. miles and it is just a good thing for them to be able to do, in the event of an emergency.

Home-schooled like her 4 siblings,( the nearest school, 80 miles away, is a co-ed boarding school for high school age ranch kids) she now goes to the public high school, where they live in dorms Mon-Thurs, then come home to help with the ranch work on weekends. This, by the way, is a school where, in addition to attending classes, doing homework and competing in sports, the kids also do the cooking, dishes, cleaning, their own laundry, maintaining clean rooms and beds that are made and all the other normal things they would do at home and will do throughout their lives. They aren’t pampered, babied or mollycoddled, but treated with reasonable expectations and respect. They are hard working, hard playing, appreciate their family and live with integrity, compassion, a solid moral compass and powerful sense of humor. You don’t see much of this in our culture today, much to the detriment of our youth.

At  high-school dances, this girl kicks off her cowboy boots, hangs up her leather riata and steps into high heels. Her waist length hair comes out from under her Stetson and is loosed from its braid, long, loose curls cascading down her back. With an ultra feminine dress hugging her athletic frame, she leaves a memorable impression on everyone who sees her. She carries herself with class and has maturity, poise and discretion and has a dazzling smile. Rarely at a loss for dance partners, she does not compromise her standards. She is open to friendship but any young cowboy who tries to cross beyond that threshold would be wise to climb in his pick up and leave. The youngest of 5 kids, with 3 older brothers in wrestling, she joined the wrestling team as a freshman and was the only one to make it to the state championships...she didn’t wrestle on the girls team and the boys didn’t cut her any slack. She’s just that good. 
I heard she deflated one presumptuous and formerly pompous young man in front of his senior classmates by flipping and pinning a social event. 
She’s little but mighty and still quite a lady. She’s a unique kind of girl who is popular, but also respected, much as are her sister and brothers. They are the youngest generation of the family that we work for and have so enjoyed getting to know and admire. This country seems to breed this kind of individual. One of the close-by neighbors, who only lives 35 to 40 miles away, is purported to have been the Prom Queen some years back. She had to borrow someone's duster to protect her dress so she could quickly show her date how to properly skin a bobcat. Acrylic nails, dyed hair and jewelry aren't near as popular here as a good rope and a better horse. Teenage pregnancy isn't epidemic here, nor are STD's, but most kids know how to work a cow and drive a hay baler. (although our government is now denying them these opportunities, through the Dept of Labor, as they seem to feel it would better for our kids to spend their time playing video games and having sex.)

 The kids around here get along with their friends and thier friends' FAMILIES. 
What city people might call a common small town characteristic  "knowing everyone's business", we call it "accountability" and it's a great and much appreciated way to keep all of us on the straight and narrow, by people who know and usually care about us.
 This is still the real west and I am grateful for that.

I was happy and relieved that she offered to take care of my animals for the day, so I could get my much needed extra injection.

She came down the morning before we left so I could show her what to feed the milk-cow, horse and calves and who to turn-out-where, for the day, then in the evening, which calves get bottles, which goats get milked, how to set up the milker, milk the Jersey cow and all the rest that goes along with that, as well as how to clean the equipment.

At the last minute, most everyone from the ranch, including her dad, brothers and sister and Randyman were all called out to fight fire. Being shy of 18, she can’t go, so she was still able to feed for me.
I was a little anxious as I no longer drive if I can avoid it and it’s 250 miles to the doctor. It’s asking a LOT for someone to just ‘run you into town’.
Her mom volunteered to get up at 5 a.m. to come get me and take me into town. I was a little worried about going with anyone other than Randyman. Being in a vehicle for any length of time causes me a great deal of discomfort, as it usually ends up being about a 20 hour day, most of it spent in a vehicle. More than once I’ve employed the use of a wheelchair to make it through errands and I really didn’t want to do that, especially with someone else.

We had a great time, we went to a fabric store to pick out stuff to make dresses and rompers for my grandbabies. We kept finding more and more cute fabrics that I couldn’t make a decision on, so I bought them all. We laughed a lot, got our shopping done, neither of us was rushed out of the stores by exasperated husbands and I actually saved $500 at the grocery store, not having Randyman there throwing stuff in the basket, so I figure we are still ahead of the game, in spite of my indecision at the fabric store.

We made it back to the ranch around 2 a.m. We could see flames across the valley which looked to be on the winter pasture. It seemed as though it was traveling towards ranch headquarters, lighting up the skyline. We found out that the guys were all home from fighting the fire down south, so she woke them up to  have them check on the flames we saw. It was still about 30 miles away, so all the kids got up, helped unpack the vehicle and the guys went to bed, as they had to return to fire camp at 5 in the morning. 

I found a note from my ‘critter sitter’. It said things went well in the morning, but  in the evening things went a little differently. She had a hard time getting the milker working right, I guess the goats were mean and ornery like usual and refused to give her milk, but the cow was ok. The lid got stuck on the grain can and she apparently ripped the handle off trying to pull it open. I laughed when I saw that. She said she spilled enough water on the kitchen floor cleaning bottles and milkers that she should probably have whipped off her shirt and mopped it up. Everything was fed and alive so it was a success. She and her sister packed the big bags of dogfood into the house for  me and the following day she packed all the huge heavy bags of livestock feed to the milkroom.

It’s the first time I’ve left home in 2 months but it felt good to be back. EmmaLou and Mister were happy to see me. Cider and the Maremmas were beside themselves.
Too bad I can’t order groceries and give this particular shot to myself so I never had to leave, but at least it got done and we had a good time. Doc says I should notice an improvement by Wednesday. I think it started working sooner than that, because I was able to walk thru all the stores on my own power...maybe laughter really IS the best medicine.


  1. Laughter is indeed powerful just getting away with another gal can really be just the ticket now and then. Glad you are feeling do so much, hard to imagine that anything can stop you.
    You know, you have a way with words...maybe writing and publishing could be in your future???

    1. Thanks, it's a thought. You really oughta come by and visit a spell

  2. I'm always impressed with your love for the life you live. You remind me of a song I love...
    "Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free' Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right' Twill be in the valley of love and delight."
    It's an old Shaker dance song but it fits your "dance" of life.
    I'm afraid that the life you lead is disappearing fast. Hold on to it. Grab all that you can.

    1. Love the lyrics! I'm afraid it is disappearing and it makes me so sad, that so many will not have this opportunity.

  3. We live 45 minutes from the town I shop at the most and I complain! - No more!!! I usually only go to town once or twice a month - like you, the solitude suits me fine.

    Ditto with Elizabeth - your style of writing is just the type I like to find in a good book. Your content is captivating and leaves me wanting more. Thanks for sharing your life with us so freely.

    1. Thanks tramps :)
      I used to live pretty close to a store, but it's surprising how easy it was to get used to quarterly shopping. Of course, I attribute a lot of that to getting rid of the telephone, so my whole day isn't constantly interrupted by someone else. Now I have the TIME to cook from scratch and do all the stuff I do, that makes it necessary to only buy the most basic supplies...and stuff I can't paper.

  4. Great post! Yep, life would be easier if we just bought everything instead of milking, raising chickens, gardening and cooking from scratch but it would be pretty boring! It sounds like you have some really wonderful people in your life! Country folks are the BEST!! :)

  5. Fabulous post (as always) I want to visit, too. (Not so sure I could manage only going to town 4 times a year!) LOL. Your Critter Sitter sounds FABULOUS. :) She sounds like the kind of girl my #2 son would have found to be PERFECT.
    I had to chuckle about you being indecisive at the fabric store. I do that nearly everytime I go... that explains my fabric stash. Shhhh.
    So glad your shot kicked in quickly. It is not fun to be in constant pain.
    Big Hugs...

    1. She is pretty awesome, this girl! Her brothers and sisters are pretty special too, but this one...well...I'm pretty fond of her.

  6. I've always wanted to live like that. When I was in high school, I was just convinced that I was going to live on a mountain and get snowed in during the winter. I had a pretty substantial list of things that I would need, and had it "all" planned out. Of course, then there was reality and the issue of making a living to pay bills. Ah, well. I'm quite happy with our 2 acres at the end of a dirt road. I only go into town when I want to, and have gotten quite adept at cooking from what is on hand. Right now, the solitude is needed more than ever.
    Glad you were able to find such a great sitter for some pretty important critters in your life. Nice that it looks like the shot is going to work for you. I can't imagine being in that much pain.

    1. funny sometimes the difference between what we think we'll do and what we will do! Although...this was my dream, I just dreamed about getting here BEFORE I had Ra ! LOL


  7. Wow... do I ever feel inadequate after reading your critter sitters resume.
    It's so encouraging to my heart to know that there are young people coming up in the world like those you live with on the ranch. We could use a lot more of them.
    Your shopping trip sounded like a lot of fun, that's why we leave the guys at home!
    Hope your pain eases up a lot more in the coming days.

    1. I really am impressed with our boss's kids. I wish all kids WERE like them, and had their opportunities. It would be a safer world,for sure. We did have a good ol' time. I felt good enough to ride tonite so I am pretty tickled about that.

  8. It may not be an easy life, but it sure is the best life I can think of. I would easily adapt to shopping four times a year - I dislike it so much. I'm sure your RA makes it frustrating, but you are surrounded by the best of folks and it seems like you all have a great deal of respect and love for each other. Doesn't get better than that.

    1. You are right, it just doesn't get much better :)

  9. Another great and uplifting postl!!!! It's encouraging to see that there are young adults/kids being raised with old fashion values and who enjoy being out on the land.
    I was raised in the "country" part of the city where I lived and always have longed to be out raising my own food and living simply. Now I'm married and live in a small country town that is being taken by folks that want out of the city, but also want to bring conveniences into this town. UGH! My husband and I are looking into moving south--somewhere country and where there is more land so we can too have our little farm.
    I thoroughly enjoy your blogs and read each one. I find myself getting lost in your world even if it's just for a few short thank you for doing that for all of us!!! ! A book would be great---I would buy it! :o)

    1. We used to live in a neat little cow town down in the Southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevadas. Now there is a level 5 Maximum security prison, a Kmart, a was past time to leave. We are now hours from town so I think we are safe here for a good long bit! Hope you find yourself a place, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments!

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    3. This country is changing rapidly. It's getting more difficult to find areas that are not built up, and even if you do find them, you always have that concern in the back of your mind that some developer will come along and buy someone's farm! We will get our little spot at some point when God is ready! :o)
      Keep those blogs coming....I just love them!