Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

January-March, 2002

Cris Paravicini during the Green River Winter Carnival. Photo by Pinedale Online.
"We've been kept quite busy around these parts"
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January-March, 2002

Oh, geez! Here I am again! For the past couple of months, it's been moose in the alfalfa pile, raccoons in the chicken grain, grandma in the snow bank (icy roads and balding tires), and spring Our flagcats a caterwaulin' (how do you spell that, anyhow?) Regardless, we've been kept quite busy 'round these parts. And, while early winter had promised significant snowfall, we're now summing up the makings of a terribly droughty situation. Been no real measurable precipitation since December, 2001. Not much wind, either, except for a few days scattered here and there - just enough velocity and strength to unfurl the many beautiful American flags that have taken to the blue skies during the past six months.
   Though today is warm and balmy - it's a false illusion, no doubt, of winter slipping and dripping Outlaw and Peppyaway...one tiny droplet at a time from the roof icicles. We've shuddered multiple times all during this winter season...through random, unorganized mornings of sub-zero temperatures - ranging anywhere from 0 degrees to 35 - 40 below. During the worst frigid, finger-biting days, Outlaw and Peppy, the boss's new horses, flopped their warm muzzles over the top rail, coaxing me to get the lead out and quickly throw out some oats and hay. And Tramp, our orphan Border Collie, trooper that he is, just shivered and dove beneath the couch coverlet several times this winter! Fortunately, though, these days have been short-lived and merciful.
   Four brave Blackbirds have returned to dine at the dog pellet dish, and one lone Canada goose is surveying the warm springs in the meadow. And even as I sit here visiting with you, a rare snowfall gives up its heart to us in the form of slight, but precious, moisture.
   Three times now, this winter, we've gathered at our aging Daniel schoolhouse - once for the December Christmas party, once for the annual box social and dance, and again for the poker run, held each year to earn money for our area fire department. Famous Chili Cookoff comin' up on March 30! But, no matter what the occasion here in the Daniel Valley, I am most warmed by the forever bonds and commitments of family and friends, and pictures of moms and their little cowboys.
Twenty five below outside   Over the winter, we've watched many gorgeous sunsets slip sleepily beneath the night covers of the Wyoming Range, and we've breathed cold, damp fog rising from the morning riverbank. I dearly love the hour of sunup...the dawn...the sunrise...almost as much as I delight in the magic hour of sundown...sunset...dusk...
   They say today's full moon is closest to the earth for this year. Indeed, at eleven o'clock tonight, I can see moose, nearly one mile away - a cow and calf trailing toward the alfalfa stack in our back yard. And I can see the heifer calves bedding down for the night in a patch of willows two hundred yards away. Daisy May, the expectant milk cow, lies contentedly chewing her cud among the younger "gals." And near the river's edge, a night owl is silhouetted against the towering, barren bluff and the iron-gray shades of the advancing midnight hour.
   Recently, we captured all the saddle horses and trimmed hooves, gave flu shots, and shoved nasty worm medicine into very resentful mouths. A couple of the older horses will need to have their teeth floated (a dental filing of the sharp, snaggled teeth) before summer grass begins to grow.
I'm looking forward to spring this year, more than ever it seems. It's been a long winter despite the lack of snowfall. I look forward to the return of summer birds and deer herds and the soft mounds of warm dirt piled high from gophers' and badgers' construction of summer homes...
Sunset   I forgot to tell you...last summer I witnessed a most unusual scene while returning home from checking on the home of an out-of-state friend. It was a quiet, peaceful night - dark as the inside of a cow as I steered the old gray Ford pickup along the dusty, country lane. The three dogs kept a welcome vigil in the seat beside me - whining at a scattering of jackrabbits and cottontails traversing the twisting roadway. Within two hundred yards of the paved highway, I rounded a bend and rumbled from a little patch of thick willows. There, illuminated in my headlights, stood two very opposite personalities - like a rose and a thorn - curiously, mutually, sniffing noses - a young buck deer, forked horns shimmering in the season's velvet glove, and a granddaddy badger, oblivious to my certain approach. Normally, my dog herd goes ballistic at any opportunity to defend me from the "unknown," but tonight they sat fixated by my side, cocking puzzled heads at the unusual sight before us. I touched the brake, lightly, to slow my loping, Joring at the Green River Valley Winter Carnival. Photo by Pinedale Online.country road momentum, and wished that I'd carried my camera with me as often as I do my cow dogs. As I rolled closer to the unlikely pair, they turned away toward opposite sides of the road and disappeared into the thick, dark night. I will carry with me always, the wonderful memory of these two animals meeting, greeting, and befriending each other in the still of a summer's eve.
   So, until we meet again at calving time...very soon...the mama cows have come home to wait...the horses are starting to shed their winter wraps...gotta warm up ol' Jasper for the ski joring contest this weekend...and I have to put dinner on the table...

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, 2002. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2002.

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