Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

January, 2001

Stub & Family
Stub & Family
"What should we name the new calf?"
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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...

January 1 - Mom
January 2 - Dollar
January 3 - Hauling hay
January 4 - Mom better
January 5 - 50th Wedding Anniversary
The Golden Walk
January 5 - It's a Girl!
January 6 - Winter Wonderland Wedding
January 7 - Can you picture me on a snowboard?
January 8 - Porcupine
January 9 - Tramp meets skunk
January 10 - Chores
January 11 - Bull Buyers coming
RECIPE:   Cream Cheese Brownies
January 12 - The 'Executioners'
January 13 - Brucellosis Vacinations
January 14 - Empty Nest
January 15 - What should we name her?
January 16 - Tramp saves the day!
January 17 - Stub, the Great, Great, Ever-So-Great Granddaddy
January 18 - Warmer
January 19 - Heidi
January 20 - Politics
January 21 - Varmints on the Move
January 22 - Round or Square?
January 23 - Skaters

January 1 - January 23, 2001 Diary
It's a Girl!
It's a Girl!


Monday, January 1  Well, here we are again. A brand new year with all good hopes of making it a grand one or at least getting another shot at doing it right this time! 
   In the afternoon, my son John and I traveled to Jackson, 75 miles away, to pick my mom up from the hospital. She's been in intensive care under a doctor's careful watch since December 31 to rein in skyrocketing blood pressure - 220/120. With bed rest, a change of medication and diet, and many tests later (she called it a tune-up!), she was released in time to celebrate New Year's Day with the family. 


Tuesday, January 2  Had to wrangle in a first-calf heifer from her winter pasture. She's heavy Barn Shadowswith calf - compliments of the neighbor's bull. Normally, we're not supposed to start calving until April 1. Hope the weather stays warm (been about zero to five below at night), so the little rascal doesn't freeze off his ears, tail, or feet. We're putting the young cow in a "warm" barn each night with Heidi (the "feeling much better" milk cow) as a "babysitter." The companionship of a veteran girl around the barnyard has a great calming effect on nervous moms-to-be.
   We turned the replacement heifer calves from the corral area and cow lot into a bigger pasture where they can spread out and stay healthier. We'd been throwing hay to them in a feeder bunk and also in big, heavy-equipment, "retired" tires that are scattered around our calving lot. Now comes the time, though, to give them a little freedom. They loved their newfound place to roam.
   Drove the swamp cowherd on a zigzag route about three miles to the Horse Creek meadow where the old girls will now get a full feed of hay. The part-time grubbing season is officially over. I rode the little bay filly, Dollar. Jake did a danged good job of getting her off-center and ready to look for work. But, Dollar, the carefree "butterfly," sure doesn't watch where she's traveling; not one bit. No sir! Just like many young colts, there's too much to see, learn, and absorb to be Arguing over the candy dishbothered with proper hoof placement.  I quickly found that I'll have to baby sit each step she takes for a while, over buck brush, ice, bumps, and snow blown ditches, or we'll wind up upside down in a heck of a wreck. A few times of going to her knees and she'll learn to "watch her step," so I don't have to. One thing that's really exciting about Dollar's potential is that she can really walk out and cover the ground, and it doesn't appear that she has much buck in her (famous last words)! I'll keep you informed of her progress as everything unfolds or stacks up - whichever happens first...

Hauling hay

Hay haulingWednesday, January 3  The "troops" hauled five more wagonloads of round bales from Horse Creek to the home place. Need to make a few more trips across this frozen stretch of road before it snows again and/or the wind blows the trail shut to 4x4 pickup traffic.

Mom better

Thursday, January 4  Took my mom to our local clinic for a follow-up checkup. Her blood pressure is still fluctuating on the high side. More medication and twice-daily blood pressure readings are ordered. 

50th Wedding Anniversary

Friday, January 5  My parents' 50th wedding anniversary! Brave folks, these stalwart couples Still Lifewho choose to wed in the wintertime in Sublette County! The mom and pop have lived and worked the past 48 of these wedded years right here on this very ranch. The first ten years were spent living in the old homestead cabin (still standing) that was built in the late 1800s. I even passed my first few years on earth in the old house in harmony with the mice, the sod roof, a hand water pump, and a nearby outhouse.  (Please read my poem "The Golden Walk" - a tribute to my folks and all those "young" couples who have celebrated 50 years together.)

The Breakfast Club
The breakfast club

It's a Girl!

Wintertime babyLate Friday, January 5 It's a girl! New calf born, unassisted, in the late afternoon... Plenty of time for the cow to dry the little heifer calf's damp hide and get some warm milk in her belly before the nightly cold front tries to bite off her tender ears and tail. 

Winter Wonderland Wedding

Saturday, January 6 Routine chores and a typical feeding day - many gates, water holes, and mouths to feed. 
   A winter wonderland wedding during the crisp evening hours. Rudy and the Legend band played reception music at our local ski lodge for the nice Episcopalian minister's wedding. Mary was wed at 7 in the evening in her own congregation's little log church on the banks of Pine Creek, then she treated her guests to a reception beneath the "purple Wind River Mountain's majesty" at the White Pine Ski Resort about 10 miles north of Pinedale. Congrats and best wishes to the happy couple!

Can you picture me on a snowboard?

Sunday, January 7 Nothing happening after chores and feeding, so I let myself be talked in to (by teenagers, no less!) trying out that crazy sport of snowboarding... Yep, it was a warm, sunny afternoon at the White Pine ski hill - a good day to "get back to the solid feel of Mama Earth" and at the same time amuse folks from all corners of Western Wyoming! 
   Ah, yes, these glorious, nearly senile, pre-osteoporosis days...Makes one appreciate those extra-padded fudge and fruitcake pounds from the holidays! It was mainly a "sit down" affair in the early stages of the learning process. I also know how a beached whale feels. When the "dust" settled, though, I had only smacked the mountain upside the head just ONE dandy time. 
   "Now, that's really gotta hurt!" yodeled the nervous instructor from the top of that first, steep and icy, rear-crackin' little ridge! 
   Yep! Five dandy runs down Little Spirit - first 3 kept my spirit just that: LITTLE; but last 2 ruuuunnnnnsssss...Eee-Oooh-Deee-Laaddyyy-Hooo!  SPIRITS soared, but, butt and feet did not! You betcha! With my attitude pumped, much like ridin' a green colt through a thick, tangled, willow patch at a high lope, I rode that board - cocky and self-assured (sort of) - and by the end of the day, I was ready to take on...BIG Spirit!? 
   Oh boy! "Boarding" rules, it rocks, and it rolls!  And it's the only snow sport I know that could danged sure accommodate this out-of-place cowgirl by breaking both legs at the same time!  Butt, enough of that. Gotta re-fluff my chair pillow:) 


Monday, January 8 Found a yearling porcupine "hanging" out in a nearby willow bush. Green bark had been nibbled and stripped from the branches from several days worth of this little guy's feeding frenzy. Cute, "pokey" fellow, though! And when I climbed into the willow with him, he happily posed for some up close and personal pictures. 
     In the late afternoon, Rudy and I drove the four miles to our little town of Daniel (my sister and her family's home) and trimmed the pony's feet, again. Foundered hooves, you know...

Tramp meets skunk

Tuesday, January 9 Much warmer today...Hibernating critters on the move...Tramp stumbled upon a groggy skunk under the horse trailer and insisted upon performing his "protect the ranch from intruders" duties... Sweet, sweet perfume! Won't be getting many visitors at my house for a few days...


Wednesday, January 10  After feeding, Rudy changed the filters on the ranch house furnaces and cleaned the chimneys. I cleaned the barn and hen house, then bedded fresh hay in the barn for the new calf, grained the old horse and sheep, and forked out more hay for the bull calves. 

Bull Buyers coming

Thursday, January 11  Bull buyers arrive at 1 p.m.  Sure hope they take the remaining eight calves...Bills to pay...

The 'Executioners'

Friday, January 12 Took the countrified dog herd to the vet for their annual shots and checkups. Cindi Lou was the only "kid" who cooperated. All the others did an about-face at the clinic's front door and thusly whipped for the car at warp speed when they smelled the medicinal atmosphere. "Uh-uh, no way! There ain't nothing or nobody gonna make us go in that place," they whined. "Been there. Done that. We're tellin' you; ain't no fun! Uh-uh! We took a vote and we're goin' back home to the ranch." 
   And so it went; my big son and I had to bodily pack each one (except brave Cindi Lou) before the "executioners"! Yep! Those eyes, ears, and tooth checkin', finger pushin', shot givin', danged vets, who make you sit on the weigh scale, then haul you onto that cold table and promptly tell you you've gained too much weight in the last four seasons of loyal, "heavy," ranch labor. Those cold-blooded experts, who look at you and smile and mumble in smooth, soothing tones... "Oh, Stub and familyyou're fine. Good dog! You're gonna be alright!" 
   "Ya, right! Can't fool me! Look out! I knew it! When they grab the scruff behind yer neck and twist till your eyes bug out...you know, danged tootin', that needle can't be far behind. A rabies' shot? Rabies! Why, I would never think of hanging out with those frothy mouthed skunks or raccoons or coyotes or...well, almost never!" 
   Whew, that task's done. Kids' shots are up to date. What's next? Oh, yeah, time to worm and vaccinate the horse herd and...

Brucellosis Vacinations

Saturday, January 13  ...Bangs vaccinate the replacement heifer calves. Every female calf must be given a brucellosis (a cloven-hoofed, animal, venereal disease in which the critter will slink (abort) her fetus) shot before one-year of age (prior to a yearling or she'll have a positive titer count when tested at market time or any other time in her life). The girls are run through the chute, vaccine is administered, and a tiny tag is clamped into the left ear, together with a numbered tattoo as proof-positive of responsible livestock management; this whole process is always attended to by a licensed veterinarian. 

Empty Nest

Sunday, January 14 Son returned to the University for his last semester of chemical (with environmental emphasis) engineering college...I shall miss his smiling face and happy disposition, and how much he makes me laugh...

What should we name her?

Monday, January 15 The new little heifer calf is doing great and growing like a weed. Good milk, warm coat, cozy bed, lots of attention!  Seems a shame that I haven't named her, yet. She's spunky and alert; dainty and spry; cute as a bug and kind of shy. Yep. Almost every critter on the place gets a nametag if they hang out around the corral (and me) very long. I gotta think of a good handle for the little miss...

Tramp saves the day!

Tuesday, January 16 Minus 22 degrees! Where'd this come from?
     Speaking of whence things suddenly come...I'm sure that very question was foremost on the old dog's (Cindi) mind this morning when she tried to wiggle her chubby little body under the bottom pole of the corral gate. Tramp, the orphan, figures into this story, too, as he became a hero to both Cindi and me on this fine day. 
Cindi Lou   Chores were routine and mercury on the rise when we all headed for the corral. I was absent-mindedly waltzing across the horse corral with a bucket of water for old Scoop, when suddenly Tramp shot by me at bullet speed. And then, like a well-aimed arrow, he stuck himself to the snout of a nosey calf that was just inches away from hooking (hitting) Cindi, who, unbeknownst to me, was wedged beneath the corral gate, whining and scratching and struggling an inch at a time to free herself. Yep. Tramp knew his roommate was in trouble, so he rocketed to her defense, and quick as a flash, saved her from a painful, possibly crippling, thump in the butt. Yea, Tramp! You are so good at what you do best!

Stub, the Great, Great, Ever-So-Great Granddaddy

Wednesday, January 17 And another slap in the face...minus 20! Okay...but, I haven't put my heavy wraps away yet. Can't get too far from a warm coat and gloves at any time of the year in Wyoming!
   Barn cats are lapping up their vittles much faster with this "arctic" front scraping across us. The poor hungry fellas, but they always wait for me - so prim and proper. 
   Still a rowdy redneck, great, great, ever-so-great granddaddy Stub is very ancient as barn cat statistics go. My cousins talked me into becoming a cat owner eleven years ago. For more than a decade, Stub's been a faithful mouser, warrior, and dog entertainer - outlasting fate far longer than any barn cat I've ever known. Though he's used up nearly all of his nine lives, Stub breaks camp each spring, bound for unknown adventures, and returns only intermittently throughout the summer to let me nurse his battle scars. He rests up for a few days; then like a summer shadow at high noon, he disappears again. 
   Come late fall, when nature's pickings get slim, Stub, his harem, and all the young'uns migrate back to the cow barn. They then ride out the winter burrowed into the hayloft, taunting the dogs, and feasting on dead crony hens, generic cat pellets, holiday turkey carcasses, and milk cow colostrum. 
   I snapped this family photo (above) while the usually-wild-as-a-March-hare family patiently and politely watched the tuna stars and me headin' their way.


Thursday, January 18 A warm front prances into the valley and saves the day...To celebrate, I turned the hens outside the coop for a breath of fresh, balmy air beneath an ocean of brilliant, blue sky.


Friday, January 19 Heidi the old milk cow's bag is peeling, bad. A big, gross chunk of hide is sloughing off her still swollen, front, right quarter due to the high fever she had last month. Might have to pull the calf off her this spring and graft it onto a younger mom. Poor Heidi. We usually sell "cull" cows like this, but she's a friend, a pet, a family member. I just can't do that to her. Despite her udder problem, she's feeling good, licking her hair, and eating hay and grain, 24/7s. And she's still getting to bunk each frosty night with the new calf and it's mom in the protection of the cow barn...Geez, I gotta think of a name for that new calf! 


Saturday, January 20 Watched some of the Presidential Inauguration activities. More than ever, I'm so thankful and sharply aware of the great importance that we've hired a compassionate, common-sense president and an awesome second in command (Vice President is from this great state!), who together understand the common ways of common-sense folks in the wonderful and diverse West. Okay...enough politics, or is it preaching?...back to more about my day job...

Varmints on the Move

Sunday, January 21 Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  Well, Dorothy, that's right. You aren't in Kansas any more!
   It seems that more and more coyotes are howling as of late, and indeed, much closer to the ranch buildings than usual. Dogs are disturbed...and confused...sheep on the alert...something's goin' down...so we'll watch...and wait...and see...
   Varmints on the move, too...rabid skunks stirring in the county south of us...cranky raccoons ripping open grain sacks in our garage... Enter, also, the vicious predators...Reports of wolves and cougars lurking in the lowlands of our great Valley of the Green and near Pinedale...stalking pets, harassing livestock, and worst of all...watching from the shadows as the children play... Pray tell what misplaced creature will they unleash next, that we must suffer to yield the right-of-way?

Round or Square?

Monday, January 22 Cousin Zack dropped by to ride along with Rudy during the feeding circle to assess the merits of a round bale operation...might go that direction on his own family's ranch... Some good about it all...some not so good...but some of the drawbacks just take getting used Family at the Pinedale Skating Rinkto...trade offs and compromise in everything...


Tuesday, January 23 Took the Grandma to watch some of her favorite skaters make the ice shake, rattle, and roll at Pinedale's downtown rink. Cool evening in more ways than one!

Artwork by my sister, Mary. "Cowboy Art" will be donated to the local high school rodeo club's fundraising auction.

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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