Today is Ranch 101 on the AV Ranch in Post, Oregon…I mentioned we would travel around through my life to different places and different times…so off we go on this post…some pictures are not as good as it was not the digital age yet…but they still show life as we experienced it…remember you can click the pictures to make them bigger…no not your heels…come on let’s go through the arch…hang on tight we are not in Kansas anymore Toto!
“Wild Bill” and I moved to a very isolated cattle ranch in Central Oregon located on the Crooked River where he was hired to manage Aspen Valley Ranch in Post, Oregon
We lived 35 miles from the closet town which was Prineville, Oregon…Post was about a mile from us and consisted of a small store with a post office for the local ranching families out in our area. The ranch encompassed 36,000 privately owned acres and 15,000 leased from the BLM.
Part of the isolation was that we were not able to receive radio or TV due to iron in the mountains around us. Though we missed the news this was my view out my kitchen and dining room windows…ever changing scenery…which for this cowgirl was more incredible than the news. Can you see the bridge in the lower left of the picture? The main ranch complex sits about 1/2 mile back from the bridge…there was a hay-field in front of the house. The Crooked River is flowing under the bridge…if you cross the bridge and turn left you will go to the Post store and eventually Prineville…if you go right you will travel to Paulina.
Living secluded from civilization we often did not have access to newspapers either…nothing from the outside world…it was like growing up again for me on the Juniper T in the mountains every summer…our own world.
Home sweet home…Aspen Valley headquarters house where the manager lives and eventually we did. The previous manager and his family had been there for many years…it took them time to pack and move…we were thankful for their knowledge and wisdom that they so graciously shared with us.
In the mean time we lived in our camp trailer at the “River House” beginning March 1…once I had the house cleaned up we semi moved into the house and lived there until the end of May when we moved to the headquarters on Memorial Day weekend…this was my first big move and I had a lifetime of stuff crammed into several horsetrailers.
Son Travis was a senior here at home and was graduating in June…as you see he was not impressed with living in “Cowboy Hell Land!” “Grrrrrr…how could you guys move to a more remote place than where we lived in Juniper Canyon?” It was almost 70 miles one way folks to drive to see a movie…not fun when you are 18! As a footnote: Travis married a woman who loves horses and the western way of life! I have an idea that she will get him on a horse one of these days!
I had to smile a bit as I grew up in a more remote place with no phone…no water…no power…just Mom, Dad and I…and Dad’s dogs and our horses…with 800 head cows and 800 babies to herd around through the summer. I am blessed to have memories that not many people have…that is why I am writing this blog!
Our other son Greg was a Sophmore…he was thrilled and excited to live the “Cowboy” life…he grew up to be 100% cowboy like his Dad and both grandpa’s. Since the boys were yet in school…they stayed here to finish up the school year so I traveled back and forth…a few days helping “Wild Bill” and then
I commuted home to Juniper Canyon to check in with Mom and Dad…herd our two boys around and plan Travis’s graduation party…then I hopped back into “Della Dually” and drove off to “Wild Bill”…600 miles round trip…I had lots of time to plan our new life and solve world problems! I even stopped and danced a bit along the way if I got tired…my stereo in “Della” was rock on sister!
Yeah I know…we moved from our yellow house above to this…I am a cowgirl who loves her hubby…long suffering at times…but the adventure was where it was at…I loved every second of our adventures together…and I was with my soul mate!
“Wild Bill” mowing our yard…nothing like a cowboy with a mower to get my heart racing!
Of course we both had pick ups…the bright red pick up was “Wild Bill’s” and the pick up on the right was mine…we still have her here at the ranch…her name is “Della Dually”. We name all our vehicles…I know kind of odd…but that is what you do when you live in the middle of no where…you get creative! The F-100 Ford pick up on the far left was one that we built of course…we sold it and heard it went to Nevada…”Wild Bill” finished the frame off resto on it the winter before we moved…yes he converted it to a four-wheel drive…awesome and that is my husband. Oh yeah..his red pick up was named “Red”…good one huh? It took us many hours of thought!
My cowboys…my hubby and my Dad. The river house looked a bit rough but it was not that bad…or so I thought from first glance. Dad helped get us moved and was excited to see us back on a cattle ranch…Mom thought I was nuts but was supportive too…she did the same with my Dad for 52 years…that is another post to talk about as I do not know how mom survived it at times…she was one tough lady!
My folks knew the ranch owners as they had been personal friends for many years. They told my Dad when they hired us that they wanted us to put their cattle ranch in order and design it after my families ranch the Juniper T. It was a compliment to Dad as he worked hard to run a top-notch herd…we had quite a job a head of us to do. Another one of my daily views…easy to see why we lived there in the middle of no where…no news or people but we had scenery, weather and wildlife!
Apparently Dad had his own adventure driving to Post from Juniper Canyon…must of been a bit muddy by the looks of the trailer…he had a trailer load of ground squirrel poison as they were out of control in the hay fields. As you can see the Crooked River flowed peacefully by in front of the “River House.” I liked living there as you could hear the water if you listened and we could view the river from our living room window….it was relaxing and cozy.
However “Dad and Wild Bill” had much discussing to do and commiserating on how to NOT tell me that rattle snakes lived under the “River House”…and bats lived upstairs! They were worried I would freak out which I did!
“WHAT!!!” (this is “The Look” ) “NO way snakes”…ok fine bats…we have bats in Juniper too…BUT RATTLE SNAKES…both low land rattlers and timber rattlers…low landers are long…timber rattlers are not as long but they are fat and they coil and hang in the trees up in the higher elevations above the headquarters where we have cows to herd or gather…no matter where we went there were rattle snakes. Hay fields…mountain tops…hay stacks…under houses…corrals…rocks…trees…everywhere!
“Now honey I promise all will be ok and I will watch out for you with the dang snakes!”
“Yeah but…I have never seen or heard a rattle snake…it is kind of scary WB.”
Life can not always be choreographed the way we hoped for and best laid plans can change. “Wild Bill’s” heart was to protect me however the first time Lottie and I gathered cattle my hubby could not go with me…”But WB you promised me”…ranch duty had called him in a different direction that day…part of being the boss. After several of us got the cows settled into the new pastures we were headed for home moseying along the trail…we had spent a long day of gathering and moving cows…it was a beautiful summer evening and we had accomplished our job…we were heading home for dinner…little did we know.
Steve who also worked for the ranch…stopped directly in front of me on the trail that we were on to talk about something…when he stopped…we stopped too but Lottie and I had stopped right on top of a rattle snake that was coiling in the grass and ready to strike my horse. Lottie did not know about snakes either…Steve turned to talk to me and just about had a heart attack…Lottie and I knew something was wrong and we moved with warp speed as fast as we could…it was eye-opening for this cowgirl and her horse…we had our first lesson.
Heading back to the headquarters…AV cattle truck on the left…machinery shed on the right…what was called the milk barn in front of us…to the far left was a large red barn that you can not see.
Aspen Valley is a 100-year-old ranch…the house was built in early 1900 and was a stage stop at one time eventually becoming part of the main complex for the ranch. It had tremendous character and if I had the chance I would have restored the house. I fell in love with the interesting floors and the way the counters sloped in the kitchen…actually it was a charming house…once I got all my stuff moved in it was not bad at all…it was home…I like rustic decor and my things fit well in this house.
It was interesting to live there…each day was several adventures in one…and yes we had rattle snakes…the first summer we were there we killed 35 rattle snakes within a 2.5 mile radius around the main ranch complex. Our 6’5″ 16-year-old son Greg, shot the head off of one…it was longer than him with 14 buttons…he had to bring it to the house to show us. He was turning on water for the flood irrigation when his four-wheeler came to a stop on top of the snkae…we all carried guns for this reason.
We had plenty of bats and weird bugs too…century flash floods…more on that in another post…dull moments did not exist on the AV!
But there was this…incredible views would take my breath away.
Wild weather…ever changing skies and light.
We had fun times and made memories that still take me back. My Dad and “Wild Bill” in one of the barns…the ranch was large enough to have six houses and barns spread out…you never knew what you would find.
Like these old saddle trees…my man is cute huh? I love his hat!
Spring branding AV style
See the red hair…that is me “Hotrod Cowgirl”…filling syringes with vaccines and seeing what I could do to help…while Steve gets the branding iron hot.
My Dad enjoying the moment…and no he was not hitting the cows with the bat…he was hitting me (not really) telling me to not be a cry baby… rattle snakes were not that bad…”But Dad”…he once named a spring up on our cattle ranch in my honor…he called it “Cry Baby Springs”…I had trouble moving my herd of cattle by the spring up on top of this canyon when I was 11 and he found me crying under a tree…another story for another time…lets head back to the AV.
The buckaroo crew at break time…I am clocking you boys…no overtime…and I am watching for any screwing around stuff…hee-haw..like I have control!
“Wild Bill” catching cows…and by the way…he did not know this at the time…but he twisted his ankle that morning when feeding…by the time night fell he was in a cast…it was broken! Rough and tough and hard to bluff….”Seriously hon…are cowboys smart or just rough and tough?”
Ooops…Dad Holton heard that…”I’m sorry I will never ask that question again”…”Of course cowboys are very smart…they are rough and tough and hard to bluff…cowboys rule!” I love my man who is a cowboy hot rodder…yep…he is a multi task man and did I mention a genius too! Ok you can smile Dad Holton…you win ok:)
The moment of truth and grimacing at the end of the day…WB had to cut off his boot due to extensive swelling and pain…he was willing at this point to get in my truck and off we went to the Dr. which was 35 miles away in Prineville. I remember the Dr. shaking his head saying something like “Cowboys…they never learn.”
We are not happy at all…not the way to end the darn day…but honey we are in the “River House” now…you can stretch out more…I will make you steak…potatos…garlic bread…carrot cake…and will wait on you 24/7…smile WB!
Meanwhile “Big Bob”…was plotting and planning how he was going to give these newbies heck…it was only the beginning…stay tuned!