Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

February, 2001

The January baby - Sparky -
is really growing up fast! 
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Cris Paravicini has lived and ranched in Wyoming all of her life. These are excerpts from her diary of daily life on the family Pearson Angus Ranch northwest of Daniel...

February 3 - Snow
February 4 - Wild horses
February 5 - Coyotes
The Bachelor - A Cowboy Poem
February 10 - The Daniel Social-Unveiling of the New Book!
February 12 - Nervous Cows
February 14 - Valentine's Day
February 15 - Boss in the Hospital
February 16 - Sparky
February 17 - Ice Skating Show
February 20 - The Deal
February 21 - Boss Home
February 22 - Moose
February 23 - Little Joe
February 24 - Snow
February 25 - Pulling Hen's Teeth
February 27 - Blackbirds are Back
February 28 - Yikes! 15 Below Zero!

February 3 - February 6 5, 2001 Diary
Waiting for the grain bucket
Wild Billy and Dainty Dollar hang out, waiting for the choregirl to deliver the treats.


Saturday, February 3 My gosh! The weather is changing! Got one whole inch of fluffy snow today. Feels sort of like the winter we've been missing. 

Wild horses

Sunday, February 4 We've been hearing about some wild horse deaths about 100 miles to the south of us. Someone's been wantonly shooting them and just leaving them lay scattered in the sagebrush. What the heck goes through someone's mind in a case like this? Poor horses. I surely hope they didn't suffer. 
Wild horse Billy    Makes me think of the lucky ones around our community that have been adopted and worked into good family units. Like my dad's horse, Billy.  I call him Wild Billy, but he's actually a great and trustworthy saddle horse. My cousin originally adopted him from the BLM as a little wild colt and broke him to ride as a three-year old. He's now seen twelve winters and is my dad's top cow horse. Billy also is the main man in the horse herd around this outfit. Yes sir. The big boss. But then, I've talked about that before. 
    Anyhow, Billy waits at the corral gate every morning for me to bring along his horse pellet handouts. He has a domestic air about him, but will always retain a little bit of his past memories of true freedom. Bet he wouldn't trade the 24/7s of hay, water, and grain, though, to return to the desert dust. "Wild" Billy is the second wild horse we've had here on the ranch within the last two decades. My son rode a stout, little, sorrel named Ivan when he was in grade school. Another unique personality in Ivan. True spirits of the Old West. Tough, solid, aloof, proud, and hard working with an edge of distrust for humans. Can't say as I blame 'em, sometimes. 


Tuesday, February 5  Many coyotes are howling tonight. Some big time yipping is happening to the south, out in the swamp, and another pack is loudly answering the calls right across the river from the corrals. The Green River has finally frozen completely over in a few places. Yikes! Easy traveling for the busy little varmints to breach the perimeter of the ranch outbuildings. The dog herd howls and bays, repeatedly, answering the call of the wild, and then they nervously trot from one corral to the next, sniffing the cool breeze as I throw up hay in the feeder for the little calf's (no name, yet!) mom and Heidi. What a commotion, with the coyotes high-pitched barks and yips harmonizing with the deep-voiced, howling, cow dogs! Real surround sound with super woofer enhancement! Kind of made me want to throw back my head and howl with 'em. Well, I did just that, and it made the dogs stampede to see just what in the heck was wrong with me! Must have hit a sour note, or something!

The Daniel Social-Unveiling of the New Book!

Saturday, February 10 EeeeeHaaawww!! Just a little cowboy yodel there to greet y'all. Tonight was the Daniel Social and boy did we warm the walls of that old schoolhouse! Tons of The Social was a huge success - attended by one heck of a herd of happy folks!good-hearted folks were on hand to celebrate the unveiling of the new book, the new bell, and the town of Daniel's 100th birthday. The high school rodeo club helped us out with the evening, while also earning some money for their summer events. Lots of country desserts to auction off, much "shooting the bull and the breeze," and dancing the night away. The Legend band's music was spectacular, featuring a guest fiddler and a guest vocalist and yodeler.  AaahhhHaaaaa!Ranchers Tawny Roberts and son Justin won the Daniel Social dance contest!

Nervous cows

Monday, February 12  We hit the trail this morning and rounded up the Horse Creek cattle and headed 'em home for the calving season. They seemed very scared of something and kept looking over their shoulders, wild-eyed. My hyperactive dog herd is usually well-tolerated by the herd, but today everyone seemed very much on edge. Many of the cows threw their heads up, looking toward the willows along the creek as if expecting a ghost to jump out and say "Boo!" or worse. Even the two crippled cows hip-hopped home in record time - almost as if their lives depended on it! When I later compared notes with Rudy, he had observed the same agitation in them. Hard to say what's stirring them up this time...One can never go to sleep around here; always something wanting a "piece" of the action.

Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 14  Valentine's Day! Husband surprised wife with a new Wyoming Cowboy coffee mug that holds three, super-charged cups of coffee at a time! 
   Legend Band and Rudy headed for Jackson, Wyoming to play love songs for the chuckwagon supper outfit. 
   It was an unusually warm night - stars sweetly peaking through a veil of fragile clouds - so the dogs and I poured three cups of coffee into the Wyoming mug, propped our feet up on a block of wood, and listened to the coyotes howling across the river. 

Boss in the Hospital

Thursday, February 15  Boss in hospital...Blood clots in both legs...Quite a serious business...


Friday, February 16  I decided to name the "not so little anymore" baby calf - Sparky - because she is such a live-wire...darting and flitting here and there, bucking and bawling, playing with the dogs...Nice to watch such happy energy...
   After work, Rudy and the Legend Band head out to Jackson again to play birthday music for a lively 89-year-old lady. Boss still in hospital...Sleep apnea added to the list of hospital "tune-up" concerns...

Ice Skating Show

Sunday, February 17  Went to the niece and nephew's fantastic ice skating show. They showed off all their newly acquired steps, turns, and slip-slidings to the tune of Rawhide! Head 'em up; move 'em out! My cousin teaches ice skating to one and all - great and small - then puts on a grand finale - four years running, now...

The Deal

The dog herd gets refreshed.Tuesday, February 20  Traded some work with Rudy...The deal: I take over chopping the water holes in the meadow, and he has to mug Sunny the stud colt for me - for it is now time for the two-year-old youngster's "coming out" party! EeeeHaaawww! Might have to shoot biscuits skyward to me! We'll see...You know...I think I'm getting too old for this? 

Boss Home

Wednesday, February 21  Boss dismissed from the hospital...sent home with one of those "dream machines" that does your nighttime breathing for you...What a deal!
   Made several batches of chocolate cakes for a medical benefit supper that's happening tomorrow night in Pinedale for a neighbor gal who recently had brain tumor surgery. She's home now and recovering well. Yay!


Thursday, February 22  Cow moose and her yearling calf journeyed by the cow feedground this morning, then turned onto Bunchgrass Boulevard and proceeded southward onto Waterhole Drive...right under the dogs' noses, they trotted... Apparently, the snow bank blocked their view with the breeze blowing in the wrong direction for the canines to take notice...just as well...quite "scents"ible, in fact... Yep, of the whole crew - cows, hay feeder, moose, and dogs - let her slip right on by with nary a raised hair... I'm the only one who wasn't minding my own business, and thereby, recorded it for "history."  I saw the same lady moose and her kid later that afternoon in my neighbor's yard - enjoying a bale pile smorgasbord... 
   The ranchers' hay piles are shrinking every day here in Sublette County, even though a blast of warm weather is helping to stretch the feed... Inch of snow falls, here...Two inches melts, there...Regardless...For us, there's more than 100 days of hay feeding still to go this season...

This cow moose and her yearling calf nonchalantly trotted by the feedground today, headed for our neighbor's ranch
This cow moose and her yearling calf nonchalantly trotted
by the feedground today, headed for our neighbor's ranch

Little Joe

Friday, February 23 Three-year old nephew, Joe, stopped by to help me do some of the daily chores. I told him I danged sure couldn't handle it without his good help. So, we fed the chickens, threw up hay in the feeder, dumped out a few horse pellets to the pests around the barnyard, then fired up the four-wheeler and headed to the meadow to chop waterholes. 
   During our rounds, Little Joe arrived at many conclusions: 1. Chickens sure need ears that you can actually see.  2. Cows ought to consider blowing their noses more often. 3. Aunt Cris really should make an appointment with the dentist to fix all the brown spots on the horses' yucky teeth. Rudy, working hard at pulling icy bale strings from a breakfast roll.4. My dogs must be the ones spreading flu bugs to him, because they don't have hands to cover their mouths when they sneeze. 
   On that note, we made our way back to the house and discovered quite a strange thing. Yep, alongside the feed trail there lay a fresh porcupine skin.  Nope, wasn't there when we drove by 30 minutes before.  Somehow, a prickly porcupine had parted with his hide, so Little Joe and I stepped off the four-wheeler and bent over to carefully inspect the remains of Porky. It was such a clean job of skinning, like peeling a banana, that I normally would have figured a human had braved the "touchy" job. Unlikely, though.  Perhaps an especially brave predator had struck him with its paw and flipped Mr. P onto his back, thereby exposing the tender belly. Regardless of how or why it happened, the rest of the story goes without saying...
   Now, how does one answer the "million" questions of a three-year old, who wants to know exactly what had happened, when the aunt isn't sure herself? It wasn't easy, so we decided to haul the hide back to the house and ponder it some more (and to keep the dogs and cattle from nosing around in the needled remains).
   By nightfall, Joe had returned home to his folks and big sister Cindi. It was very quiet at chore time - the game of one million questions had been tucked into bed...now only the huffing and puffing of dog breath.  A gentle snow was softly falling and with each step homeward, the approaching night heard only our footsteps falling softly.

Snow Again

Saturday, February 24 Brilliant, turquoise blue skies smiled warmly upon our "perma-frost".  About two inches of fresh, fluffy snow came to visit during the night, then quietly held its breath to see what we'd say about it all. We applauded its efforts!

Pulling Hen's Teeth

Sunday, February 25 "Pulled hens' teeth" today and talked Rudy into going with me to an especially great Pinedale Fine Arts poetry reading with Anthony Zerbe and Roscoe Lee Browne. A dramatically different way of portraying life's inevitably human ways through gifted con"verse"ation.  And of course, it definitely was a bonus to get to see actors from favorite movies like Star Trek IX-The Insurrection and The Cowboys! Really nice when talented folks come to our small town to share their craft. We appreciate their efforts!

Blackbirds are back

Tuesday, February 27 Went to Daniel to collect the mail...Heard blackbirds for the first time this spring! Most welcome music to my ears and soul. Wished I could shoo some of 'em into my car to take upriver with me, but they'll soon migrate to the ranch where I'll be waitin' and watchin' for them. 

Yikes! 15 Below Zero!

Wednesday, February 28 What happened here! Fifteen below zero at first light! Yikes! This is not good, but it did eventually warm up and turn into quite a nice day, except...I took on the terribly uncowgirl-like job of defrosting my freezers and doing some much needed domestic "spring" cleaning before calving season officially takes full control of life.

Where did that story go?!? The stories from earlier front pages aren't gone. We just move them to the monthly journal pages to make room for the latest diary entries on the front page. See the Journal Index for a listing of all previous front page journal entries!
The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, Wyoming, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, where she lives along with her husband, Rudy. Historic old Fort Bonneville, built in the late 1800s, is located next to her family's ranch. Cris is a writer and photographer for The Sublette County Journal newspaper, where you can find more of her accounts of life on the ranch. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2000. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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