Every Once In A While….

You hear a song or a sound that takes you back in time…maybe its a visual image that takes you back to the memories you hold dear in your heart…

Not long ago, I was looking out my kitchen window…

doing lunch dishes and I saw a pick up and stock trailer go by…

Wondered who it was and if they were moving cows…

And then I saw something big come around what we call the big corner, about a half of mile from our house, and another something big followed it around the corner and another and another and another…five semi cattle trucks!

Oh be still my heart…

I was immediately transported back in time…old memories of cattle trucks on their way here, either delivering cows or picking them up…and I so miss it!

I have not seen five cattle trucks come rumbling around that corner since the old Juniper T days when my dad and his brothers ran 800 head of Black Angus mama cows…and it took my mind back to old sounds and good memories…

When I lived on the winter cattle ranch…as June 1st dawned, the first truck came over the first hill with full lights on and dip down into the next hill while the second truck bobbed into sight on the first hill and so on until they all lined up in front of my house.

Lined up and ready to load in the early morning dawn, as one by one they left loaded full of cows, heading for the summer range in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon…

I grew up in those mountains gathering cattle with my dad and also on the winter ranch. We had around 25,000 acres on each ranch…the last summer we were on the big ranch was 1979. In 1980 we began raising 200 head of steers on mountain pasture that we kept until 1992.

That’s when Wild Bill and I hired out to manage cattle ranches with many an adventure on the two large cattle ranches we managed…going from Central Oregon, 35 miles out of Prineville, on the Crooked River. close to Post, Oregon. Draw an X through Oregon and the middle of it is Post, Oregon….post office, store and bar.

And then on to Pinedale, Wyoming where we ran cattle on the high desert close to South Pass during spring months and then moved them to the summer range up behind Yellowstone.

I was one lucky cowgirl that I was an only child as Dad took me everywhere with him to work cows, gather cows, salt cows, fence and develop mountain springs…we often traveled 20 to 30 miles horseback gathering cattle and moving them to new pastures all summer long…we would leave at first light, with frosty dew still on the ground, riding out a few crow hops to wake us up and return home at dusk…horses were tired and we were tired…mom was waiting with a hot meal and a hug…it was a life not many know.

We lived on the outside of civilization…no electricity, no telephone, no people, no TV or radio, no newspapers or mail delivered, no running water…our life was simple. During the busy times, we had lots of help with dad’s family, my uncles and cousins would come to help gather cows or in the early years help fence those 25,000 acres as it was not fenced…the first ten years dad had a fencing crew busy fencing, while we rode for cows…I think we had the better deal:)

I miss riding and gathering cows with my dad and our dogs, the one in the picture is Blue…Dad’s on Bucky, she was one of my high school horses and she loved to crow hop first thing…then she settled and all was fine. Every day we had a new adventure riding out early to check cows and babies, making sure the springs were all working and moving cattle to new areas with better grass…we both loved the cattle and the horses…our hearts beat the same with the cowboy life, loving what we were doing!

Seeing those cattle trucks brought tears to my heart as I remembered the old days…where time stands still.

I watched each truck drive by the ranch…disappearing down the canyon…as those old memories flashed in my mind.

I wanted to walk down to the barn and see the brand inspector, the cattle buyer, if we were selling and most importantly my dad…waiting on me to grab my horse, to help him sort cows.

By the time we had kids, the big cattle ranch I grew up on was gone…unfortunately, our kids did not learn to ride horseback or to gather cattle on the mountain or winter ranch.

Funny how those trucks took me back to old times…back to good memories…how I remember and how I miss it…be still my heart!

Now where is my kleenex! Darn It!

Sometimes…….

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“Sometimes you find yourself, in the middle of nowhere…

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And sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

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I love this quote…as I know its true!

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The middle of nowhere speaks to your heart with a reverent peace,

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As God whispers softly to your soul with the beauty of His world all around you!

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May you have a peaceful night and a peaceful tomorrow.

HRCG over and out!

 

You Know You Live In The Middle Of Nowhere When…Part Two

You know you live in the middle of nowhere when…begins part two of my memories of the isolated life we lived on large ranches in both Wyoming and Oregon…

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Beautiful isn’t it? Hard to not look at the Wind Rivers all day…the incredible continental divide…with the amazing ever changing views. This was Wyoming and I loved it!

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A typical scene of the Green River Drift…I rode it several times with the ranchers and cowboys either gathering cattle from close to Yellowstone in the fall months driving our cattle home on the drift or in the early spring months, when we gathered our cattle and moved them out for a few months to the high desert on the other side of Pinedale.

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The photo above was taken in the early spring months right after we were hired to manage the ranch in Wyoming. The house to the far left became our home, but first they had to remodel our house and also the owners house which was the log home more in the center, it was a 100 year old log hone. All summer as we chased flood irrigation water, I watched the ever changing Winds, it was like watching a movie that had different scenes all day long:) The tallest peak in Wyoming is Gannet Peak at 13,809′ and I had the daily privilege of this view out my windows. We lived at 7500’…the mountains were incredible as they gave me a beautiful ever changing photo, that I hung on my heart…and yes it’s still there:) Wyoming was…mesmerizing!

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Pinedale was an awesome little town…and here we go…part two.

It’s normal to pack a gun or a pistol as you go about your day as…

In Oregon, we had two kinds of rattlesnakes to contend with…down close to the hay fields you have the standard large rattler…often 6′ long ones lying around the hay fields and anywhere else…you had to always watch where you stepped. We also had to contend with timber rattlers in the higher elevation where we had cattle pasture. Timber rattlesnakes like to curl around the tree branches to blend in and then scare the heck out of you! The first time I saw one curled around a tree branch hanging I wanted to scream oh my GOSH!!! I think I did but not exactly those words!

In Wyoming, we had bears, wolves, bobcats and other critters to worry about…but thank goodness, no rattlesnakes or pack rats! Our elevation at 7500′ was too high for them:)

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And currently where we live, life has changed in the last 15 years…we have a neighborhood watch and we are armed, ready to defend ourselves if need be. I grew up out here during winter months and we used to not lock our doors…now we have security systems on our house, shop and barn along with several high-end cameras. In today’s world, there are people who love to steal things to make meth…farm and ranch country gets hit lots due to the farm chemicals we use on our crops and weeds etc. They steal chemicals to make their meth. If you do not have chemicals, then they steal fuel and copper or steel. It is a crazy world we live in and we are on full alert…laser light and night vision scope…life has changed out here. Don’t bug us!

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You know you live in the middle of nowhere when you begin to visit more with the cows and horses than you do with people as there are no people around…and as time goes on, you begin to hear the cows and horses talking back to you…sharing the moment and shooting the breeze!

The very first time I rode up in the higher elevations in Central Oregon, to gather cattle, I thought I would be safe from rattlesnakes…I mean, come on, everyone would think that at 5500′ elevation, rattlesnakes would not like it right? I had yet to hear a true rattlesnake rattle at me nor had I seen any rattlesnakes…WB told me they were around down low close to where we lived. Little did I know!

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Once we finished with gathering cattle, Steve, one of our cowboys, was leading us off the mountain…he was in front of me and stopped to look at the incredible scenery we could see…

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He turned to tell me something, and his face went white…he yelled at me to move NOW! Lucky for me that my mare, Lottie, knew nothing about snakes either so she did not spook…the rattlesnake was directly under her and was coiling…we moved fast enough to escape! Mike, the horse trainer for the ranch, had been behind me with a four-year old gelding…while I was moving quickly away from the snake, Mike had taken his horse over to the cattle pond to get a drink…it had lots of mud around the edge that you could get stuck in and with all the commotion around Lottie and I, Mike’s horse tried to spook, but was stuck in the mud and almost pitched Mike into the pond…it was a true Charlie Russel painting! Luckily no one was hurt and we all made it safely off the mountain! My eyes were as big as saucers from then on as I was on full alert everywhere I went…

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“Hank the Cow Dog,” was about 10 months old in this photo…he is the 6 month puppy that rode out the massive flood on a piece of a wood and was washed up against the house in a corner…we were so happy when we found him!

In Wyoming, we could feel eyes watching us late at night through the curtains on the large living room windows…its -35 below so who would be standing out there watching you anyway…as you look, you scream, as pressed to the glass is 4 sets of eyes with huge heads and bodies attached to them…MOOSE!

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Did you know that moose have two moods? Curious and MAD! You hurriedly pull the curtains back together….and the moose bumps into the window….you turn off the lights…and the moose bumps up against the window again with a devious moose grunt….you quietly scream again and run to your bedroom hiding under your bed…hoping they will go away…HA!

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The next morning all four moose are curled up on our deck waiting for us! “Good morning Miss Moose…why are you kissing the hand rail on my porch? Miss Mouse gave me a look and grunt and I shut up…Miss Moose can do anything she wants! Sorry for the blur, but she would not hold still for my camera! I loved Wyoming…even the cold weather with curiously mad moose and every adventurous part!

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 You can ride and gather cattle for miles without seeing another person or any sign of civilization…you almost feel like you are the only person left on earth. It is an amazing view to see…no power lines, no smog, no busy highways, no people…almost like unsettled land. This photo shows the Wind River Mountains or the Continental Divide, close to South Pass on the Oregon Trail. The objects you see on the hill are the water tanks…we turned the cattle out on the high desert during the late spring months and watered them via windmills…we had several to maintain.

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Often the desert had quick squalls that would drop in fast with thunder and lightening…the sky would grow black in the middle of the day…but the storms left as quickly as they came. The high desert was vast and huge…when it was time to gather up 1000 head of cows on our 15,000 acre pasture, it took us one morning to do it. I could not believe how fast it went. Growing up on my folks cattle ranch, it took us a few months to gather 800 mother cows and calves on the summer range in the Blue Mountains. And even though you think the desert is flat, it is not as it has more small hills than you can see.

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I wondered what it looked like to the men and women who made it over South Pass? The wagon trains crossed the desert right through the acreage we ran cattle on…what did they think once they got over the divide and saw the vast desert…and the Wyoming Mountains ahead of them? Who may have lived here, was it a family or maybe a fur trapper?

You know the sounds of a cattle truck as it tops the hill that drops into the ranch in the early dawn light…

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First the cab lights crest the hill and disappear as the they drop down the last hill only to pop out in time for the next cattle truck lights to top the hill…15 trucks in all…choreographed to drop into the ranch all in a row…like clock work!

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You can hear the sounds in your head and in your heart…the sounds of aluminum truck gates opening, cattle hooves on metal in the loading shoot…you see the breath of both men, horses, cattle and dogs…as the cattle are quietly loaded like clockwork…like they all knew it was time to head for the mountains for the summer range.

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As one truck is loaded you hear the rev of the semi as it pulls away from the loading dock and the next truck pulls in…you hear a few jokes as your brand inspector signs off on the cattle as you know him like family…and as the last truck leaves shifting gears gaining speed to climb that first hill…and it dips outta sight only to bob up one more time into the bright sunshine of daybreak…it tweaks your heart a bit…another winter is gone.

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The trucks have 200 miles round trip to go so it will be a few hours before they return for more cows…800 head mother cows, along with calves, yearlings and etc. took around 25-30 trucks to haul…the day began in the early morning darkness and would end in the middle of the night or the early morning hours up on the mountain ranch.

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You know the sounds of cattle in the corrals settling down and in the meadow pastures close to you in a new place as the first new day begins for them on the summer range…you shiver as you climb out of your warm sleeping bag wearing your long underwear and shoving on your jeans…boot socks and wild rag as you head out to help feed and do whatever is needed to help…counting cows and calves, moving cattle or settling cows. Later that morning, you head back down to the winter ranch to close things up now that all the cattle had been shipped as well as horses and dogs too. As you crest the hill and see the ranch, it takes your breath away as it is now standing quietly still…the life of both man and animal that was there yesterday is now gone. You pull up to the loading chute and take a few minutes as…

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Your mind plays back over the last few weeks of gathering and the finality that happens each June 1st…as time seems to stand still until cattle and man return in late fall.

Note: The description I used above is based on my memories of growing up on my folks cattle ranch in Oregon where the cattle truck sounds and memories began at an early age.

There is one grocery store in Pinedale to shop in and the prices are through the roof as the next closest grocery store is over 100 miles one way on two lane country roads, either South to Rock Springs or Northwest to Jackson Hole.

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Note all the pick ups…yep cowboy country!

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Once you go into the grocery store to shop, you note that there are LOTS of wildlife mounts looking at you as you shop down the aisles. In the frozen food aisle I looked at Fox, Bobcat or Mountain Lion. On other aisles we saw Mountain Goats, Bears, Antelope, Coyotes, while the bigger animals had a head mount, such as an Elk, Moose, Deer…Buffalo…and even fish! It was quite an experience as the store had all the food we needed except fresh fruit in the summers. It also had hunting and fishing supplies, guns, knifes etc. everything you can imagine under the sun…for the husband as you shopped.

As the day ends, you go to sleep happy and content…your body feels good as it got worked…

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And you accomplished good things in your life on a remote cattle ranch…the incredible isolation and the hard work at hand, can be overwhelming to some, but for me it was always a great joy…one that I grew up in and one that I will never forget. I knew I lived out in the middle of nowhere…the boondocks…the hinterlands…and I loved every part of it!

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It is my life and who I am…I’m thankful I have stories yet to tell…filled with memories of a cowgirl’s life lived in the middle of nowhere…I would not trade it for anything different!

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Have a great evening and a fun week and weekend!

You Know You Live In The Middle Of Nowhere When…Part One

You know you live in the middle of nowhere…the boondocks…the hinterlands…the isolation of country life when…you have no electricity, no water or plumbing, no land line telephone or cell phone…are you kidding? TV and radio are a non-existence item…no news of the world and no local news…you have no clue what is happening in the outside world. No Wi-Fi…DSL or Internet. You are cut off from civilization. Hello? Hello can you hear me now?

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It’s you and mother nature…usually a few hundred cows and several horses along with a few dogs and my cat!

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I thought it would be fun to compile my list of recognizing when you are living in the remote solitude of nowhere, finding yourself in the boondocks of the twilight zone…so here we go, hang on!

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You know when you live in the middle of nowhere when…

1-You do not see another person besides your husband and your son for weeks at a time…we lived in our camp trailer while our house was being remodeled, with Kalamazoo, our black Manx kitty who was 14 years old and our son who was almost 18…oh fun-fun!

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Incredibly, we managed to live for almost six months in our camp trailer together…our gooseneck horse trailer was my pantry as it held my freezer and refrigerator plugged into an extension cord that ran to the house. I was awfully glad to move into the ranch house at the end of the six months of trailer living, but we found silly things to laugh about and we learned what was truly important in life…which is the greatest lesson of all!

2-You can tell which neighbor is driving by in their pick up by the sounds their pick up makes…be it exhaust or the type of engine or maybe it just makes a sound all its own…and you know who it is!

3-You only go to town for groceries and supplies once a month…and it takes a couple of hours to get to town on windy country roads and curvy two lane highways….

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Incredible scenery though:)

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4-You live in the least populated county in the least populated state in the United States…and sing “Oh Give Me A Home Where The Buffalo Roam…” and the song comes true!

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5-You can see a million stars as well as the satellites that pass overhead…you can often see the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis with the incredible colors. William Shakespeare once said,”My Soul Is The Sky”…he was right as the endless sky and solar system truly feed my spirit with a sense of awe! The night sky is huge out in the middle of nowhere and especially in Wyoming with the altitude, we felt much closer and saw much more than ever before…no pollution…just crisp clear sky that went on forever and ever whether at night or during the daytime…it was and still is incredible to live in the boondocks!

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6-You missed the first Gulf War due to lack of TV reception, lack of radio reception and no newspapers to be found…we had no idea what was happening in Kuwait or Iraq…it was bizarre!

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7-Due to country-itous, you resort to silly games…such as when you talk to your spouse, you pick up a piece of wire from a bale of hay and look them in the eye saying, “I feel really wired this morning from my coffee.” And the humor and country games begin!

8-You literally have to mail order everything from a tube of lip gloss to a much needed tractor part…thank goodness for the mail as it was my salvation!

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9-You catch one of your employees playing “Catch the Live Rattlesnake “with your 15-year-old son on a warm summer evening in your yard no doubt, around your house, where they have the snake on a leash of bailing twine saying “Here Mr. Sneaky Snake…Come On…Come See Me!”

10-The above employee Brian, kills the snake, forgets to tell you that he put the meat etc. into one of your baggies in your back porch refrigerator…then leaves as he forgot to take it when he left…and you get up in the middle of the night for a cold drink of water or ice tea that you keep in the back porch refrigerator….you do not have your contacts in and you see this baggie with sort of dark reddish stuff in it…and you wonder what in the world…you squint your eyes real good and then you see the diamond back skin in the dark red blood…and now you scream obscenities…stomping up the stairs to your bedroom…waking up the husband who hears you swearing and saying some very choice names…and he thinks uh-oh saying “Yes dear, yes dear, I agree!”

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11-Brian hears that you found his snake guts…and he stays away and hides from you for a good two weeks.

In Central Oregon, in one summer we killed 36 rattlesnakes just at the ranch complex where we lived…they were everywhere we went. The hay fields were full of them and often they would get baled into a bale of hay so when you get the job of walking and rolling the bales over…you roll and watch carefully. WB had one bite the fork on the bale wagon and it hung on so hard, it tipped the hay bale over that it was trapped in…their bite is evil and their mouths are so strong!

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12-A night at the movies consists of an evening drive up on that mountain for fun…as you grab your camera and your music, taking your guns just in case you see a snake or a bear or a critter!

13-In Wyoming, you see more skunks than people! We had a black Manx kitty who accidentally got out of the house at dusk…I pulled on my boots…I was pretty stylish with my boots and my nightgown…I grabbed a flashlight and begin to hunt for him…oh there he is you think…What? NO IT IS NOT…it’s a skunk that you have the light on calling here kitty kitty…make another note…always, ALWAYS wear your glasses!

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14-A few weeks later a skunk gets under your house about 3:00am and sprays right under your bedroom….OH MY GOSH! Instant coughing and pungent fumes wake you up as you come gagging out of your bedroom…eyes watering as the smell somehow becomes a taste in your mouth! Our son goes to school the next day and while in home room one of the students and the teacher ask, who got sprayed by a skunk? Your son dies of embarrassment as he is the newest student in a very small school…that night he goes out and shoots a couple skunks for revenge! I could not believe how many skunks there were in Wyoming…they were everywhere!

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And with that said…this ends part one…it’s beautiful out today with clear sunny skies and currently 76 degrees! Have a wonderful week!

Part Two is next…stay tuned:)

 

Life Decades…Life Dreams…Life Goes On.

Life decades…life dreams…life…life goes on.

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I suppose wisdom is good with age…I like the wisdom but not thrilled about the age.

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I miss the old days of life…sitting a saddle everyday on a horse, looking and gathering cattle…doing what I know, that is as natural as breathing to me.

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Feeling mother nature on my face as she bathes me with her skies, and the beauty all around me…full of God’s glory.

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And the smell of a horse under you…together we are a team…hearts are joined.

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A quick summer shower that was enough to cool you off and the warmth of the sun above on my face…

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And the cattle…mooing…snapping brush and twigs as they try to out maneuver you…softly mooing for their babies as the dogs nip a few heels…the herd bellows a bit while moving out with you and your horse.

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I miss cowgirling… I miss the long days in the saddle and the short nights before you got up and did it all over again.

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I miss the mountain smells of pines, different grasses that drifts in the breeze…the smell of horses and cows…the sound of the creek gurgling on a hot afternoon…and the smell of mud as mountain mud is different…I loved the mountains…I loved the smells and the sounds of living on a cattle ranch.

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I loved the isolation…the hard work we did together…the incredible scenery…and cowboying with my hubby…we were hauling water to cows on a warm summer night in this photo.

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Never a dull moment as each day brought new adventures…

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You never knew from day-to-day what you would see and experience!

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At day’s end, once you tucked yourself into bed snug as a bug, drifting off to sleep,

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Snapshots of life would roam through your head as you dreamed of tomorrow’s life on a cattle ranch.

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Wishing You A Fun Funny Friday Full Of Fantastically Fabulous Follies!

Wyo Why Wyoming Oh My Wyoming!

Wyo Why Wyoming Oh My Wyoming…became our song as we prepared to move to Wyoming to manage a vast cattle ranch of 100,000 acres. As I progress along with different Wyoming stories, I’ll show you my first look at where we were to live on the ranch…thankfully the Continental Divide was right behind the house and that is what I looked at…WB knew the mountains out my door would capture me…and it did for several months as we waited to move into our home.

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The photos above and below were taken of my mare Shez Alotta Leo, “Lottie” with “my daily take my breath away view”. Behind her are the Wind River mountains, or the Continental Divide, and Gannett Peak. I could also see the Wyoming Range in front of Lottie and the Sawtooth Range behind the ranch as well…mountains surrounded us with the stunning raw beauty of the landscape wherever we went.

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I loved Wyoming…it was a cowgirl’s dream. I never grew tired or bored with watching the mountains and the ever changing scenery of the awe-inspiring Continental Divide. We chased flood irrigation on the meadow that first summer, and could not stop staring at this view…it was incredibly surreal to be so close to such rugged beauty that you often wondered if it was a giant painting…guess now that I think of it, it was a giant painting, designed and painted by God above! Gannett was the highest peak in Wyoming and depending on the light of day it was both majestic and mysterious…what a view we had to look at!

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Whether I was washing the dishes looking out my window at the Rockies or on horseback moving cows in various Wyoming weather, the views always took my breath away…I lived with a permanent jaw dropping, breathless “Wow” look on my face.

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We lived at 7500′ elevation with beautiful clear skies that were a different color and depth of blue during the daytime, while the nighttime sky was filled with stars and different galaxies and more stars, it was spectacular. Due to the higher elevation of where we lived, we did not have air and dust pollution so the skies day and night were clean, clear and pristine. And Lottie is still coming to see me…her white blaze gives her away!

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The small community we lived close to was like going back to the good old days where a man could trust in a handshake as truth and a man’s word was a man’s word. From day one we were welcomed into the community and felt like we had lived there a long time…it was a good fit. The closest movie theatre was 40 miles from us in a huge quonset hut building called “The Flick”…the movies you wanted to see usually arrived about a year after they were hits at the box office.

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If Lottie could talk, she would be saying “Where the heck are we and why?” The year before we managed a ranch in Central Oregon and Lottie and I had to worry about rattlesnakes…and from rattlesnake hell we arrived in Wyoming skunk country! We had a crabby black Manx named Kalamazoo who was around 14 years old and he got out one evening at dusk…I was outside for an hour with a flashlight calling for him…and then I saw him under the house they were remodeling and went closer and all of a sudden I realized it was black like Kalamazoo but…it had a bit of white on him too with a big bushy tail! I took faster than a speeding bullet steps…running back to the house where Zoo had showed up anyway…he did pretty good for being an older kitty and moving all over with us.

Storms in Wyoming, were incredible as they moved in quickly to storm and then they moved out as quickly…there were no cloudy, overcast, gray days. Yes we had wind chills of -40 degrees and wind that usually began around noon with plenty of snow and lots of snow drifts.

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This is walking out of our house onto the front porch…typical winter morning…blowing snow, making drifts…and -30 degrees or more.

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WB’s heading out to blow the snow off the road in the early morning. I often rode with him on the tractor to see what type of drifts the night or day had conjured up. I wish I had the digital camera that I have now…this was back before digital but close…these photos would likely be our old Cannon…I still have it:)

Our driveway into the ranch was about a mile long with barrow pit ditches on either side of it…often we had white outs from the wind and blowing snow…you could not tell where the road was! After getting stuck a few times trying to find it, we put up stakes painted with orange paint on top.

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I took this photo when we were caught half way down our driveway home by a sudden winter storm, it came in fast with wind as well as a blizzard…typical Wyoming weather. WB had blown the driveway out earlier that morning and by 10:30am it had blown shut.

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And here we ended up…WB was driving this time and once you get a tiny bit into a rut or in this case, snow that was drifting, its impossible to pull out of it…luckily we were almost home, but with the wind and wind chill factor and the white out conditions you had to be very careful…WB bundled up with everything we had with us, and I was a Nervous Nellie until I saw him coming back in the tractor blowing a trail to pull out our pick up “Red”…remember we name ALL our vehicles:)

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Every morning during the winter snow months, WB had to blow open our road coming into the ranch as we had serious overnight snowdrifts that were deep and once again in the late afternoon so our son could get home from school in his Willy’s Jeep. Everyday the son would try to plow through the drifts in 4 wheel drive and get stuck so WB would blow the road open to where he was stuck, chain the Jeep to his tractor, pull the son out of the drift and continue to blow the road open, getting both son and Jeep home while blowing a trail home.

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No matter what we had to deal with in Wyoming, it was all good to both WB and me…everyday was an amazing adventure:)

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

I am a bit late with posting this but seems life right now is a bit fast and crazier than I want…today is a very special day of honoring our Dad’s.

This is my Dad…he was an amazing man…he lived with a left stiff leg from a football injury during his senior year in high school. Yet not once did he ever complain or make excuses for his life. Instead he fought to live a normal life and he did. I saw it and was witness to it…Dad was the real deal when it came to being a cowboy and a great Dad!

Dad with his horse Jingle across the road from the house in the 1940’s.

Dad roping in the 1950’s…

Dad in the 1970’s running one of the biggest cattle ranches in the state of Oregon. One of the very last cattle ranches in the state to drive their cattle down from the mountains in the late fall to the winter pasture. It was a 90 mile cattle drive with 800 head of mamma cows.

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Yearly Fall Cattle Drive

Cows headed home…we drove the cattle every fall for almost 30 years and by the time we did it the last year…it was a piece of cake. They knew where they were going…home.

Dad looking weary on the drive about half way through. This is my Dad…his horse Bucky…his dog Blue. He was pretty much John Wayne to me and Mom and kinda scary to Wild Bill:)

Oh come on WB Dad does not look scary here!!!

 “WB are you gonna marry my daughter?”

“Yes sir….I am!”

“She is our little girl…and our only child…so I am watching you!”

“Don’t worry Dad…I am good with WB.”

I have so many good memories of growing up riding with Dad and working cows…but some of the best ones are when Dad took me fishing or when he taught me how to drive a four speed Scout up in the mountains…he was the solid comfort in Mom’s and my life…and he always kept a going.

Dad, you gave me the gift of life and horses:)

Happy Father’s Day…I learned everything I could from you about life and living and I miss you and Mom so very much.

I thank God for giving me a cowboy Dad like you!

Hotrod Cowgirl headed on down the road with horse power and horsepower:) Over and out…see ya on down the dusty trail!

Hot Rod Cowgirl’s Fete A La Holiday

Hot Rod Cowgirl’s fete a la holiday…in regards to yesterday…what is a holiday?

Hmmmmm…living in the country as a ranch wife or farm wife and eventually a hot rodders wife still living on the ranch/farm…

Means your life is pretty much committed fulltime to either the cattle and horses or taking care of the land or building and driving hot rods…oh what is a girl to do?

Growing up on both a large cattle ranch and wheat ranch meant I got to ride horses and take care of cows…and take care of the land.

Then I married “Wild Bill”…the crazy hot rod person:)

Follow me back in time before “Wild Bill” to the cows and horses. In the summers my parents and I moved to the mountains with 800 plus Black Angus cows…my relatives stayed here and took care of the land while my parents and I took care of the cows. Everyday we were either checking cows or moving cows to different pastures etc. and if that was not the case then we would be doctoring a sick cow or putting out salt blocks or fixing fence or building fence or looking for the leppy calf’s mama…or taking care of the horses and so on. As Fall made it appearance we began to gather cows…this took several weeks…once they were gathered…then my Dad began a 100 mile cattle drive to the low lands for the herd to winter on.

Through the winter months it was calving time and feeding time. I remember we would get done feeding the cows about noon…then we loaded trucks up again for the next day getting done in time to make one last check on first calf hefers…if we saw one that looked imminent it was either moved to the barn area or we would watch her through the night. In Spring we vaccinated and had a huge several day branding at the lower ranch…and June 1 we moved back to the mountains to repeat the summer pattern.

I know the rest of the world celebrates with several holidays a year but around here and to this country cowgirl most holidays are just another day…Thanksgiving and Christmas we take the day off but if we have cows or horses then we still have to feed them and take care of them .

Holidays?

Holidays were either working or moving cattle or cutting wheat after we were married and moved to the ranch.

Or doing Hot Rod Car Shows on Labor Day Weekends.

Or harvesting on July 4th…

And we usually do not want to see any fireworks!

Smile…smile….smile:)

Tack room wall of bridles and bits.

And working decor…yee-haw:)

Tonight as I close this sort of educating work verses holiday on a ranch post…we are under a severe winter storm watch…winds have been blowing all day…gusting to 45 mph…we are to be inundated with snow the next 48 hours…and it is snowing hard right now…we need moisture…but could we hold off on the freezing cold stuff as tonight I am dang cold.

Sleep well and I am wishing you a warm and gentle night:)

Ranch 101…AV Ranch…Post, Oregon

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!

Hello World…MJ Here!

Hello world…MJ here…my name is MJ for the most part….although my husband calls me Lucy and my actual name is Marcy….I live where my Norwegian Grandfather homesteaded back in the late 1890’s. The house we live in today was built by my Grandpa Gunder in 1920 for his mother, my Great Grandmother Anne-Marie , my Dad remembered hauling lumber for the house with his Dad when he was 10 years old by horse and wagon from the small town of Helix 8 miles from the house.

Of course Minnie thinks it is her house…and it is….the floors are old and original…pretty huh? We exposed them in 2006, the entire main floor was this beautiful red fir tongue and groove. It is funny that when my Mom moved into the house with Dad in 1939 she spent her time here making the old house modern…I grew up here and did not know that the floors were wood and beautiful…thank goodness Mom had them so well covered to protect them!

Because of the old red fir floors…when we remodeled the kitchen…we had a local cabinet-maker come give us a bid. The first thing he noticed was the old red fir floors…he said “Would you be interested in antique wood red fir cabinets for your kitchen? He told me he bid on a stack of old red fir wood about 30 years ago and it has just sat in his studio….I said YES YES YES…that will restore the kitchen to the original cupboards! I have refinished the pass through cabinet to the original dining room and also have refinished the bar in the middle of my kitchen…it used to be by the sink as I remember my Mom and I rolling cookie dough on the wood bread board that is still intact. That is the bar you see by Minnie!

Isn’t the kitchen incredible…it turned out beautiful! My neighbor painted and fired all my tile for the back splash. I had purchased the tile behind the range several years ago.

Juniper T Ranch Brand

I lost my Dad in 1997 and my Mom in 1998…they were married almost 60 years… they had me late in life…..it was very hard loosing them as I am an only child. I miss them everyday.

Bill and I looked at moving our shop to Portland or Seattle or Bend or Boise or Spokane or Bozeman or Billings but we finally saw that this is where we are to live….most Americans do not have the family history or heritage anymore due to the world we live in and that we have the heritage here and family is huge…so we decided in spite of great odds we would stay right here and market our shop as “The Secret Lab”. Notice that I am making a joke…we were being interviewed for TV.

I do all the marketing and ads for us as well as run our office and I am the Quick Book expert and do all our financial bookkeeping etc. I knew if we got out and showed who we are…that Wild BIll who is an artist and a one of a kind professional car restoration builder that the business would work here….and it has.

We still do get the deer in the headlight look when potential customers at shows ask us where we are located….as the marketing person I have had to fight that misconception about us….that yes we are located in an isolated area that means you will have to drive a few miles to get here BUT Holton Secret Lab is worth it as we are a destination that you want to reach….that is if you want quality and perfection with attention to detail….your call…just do it…you know you want it right? We are worth it…you will not be disappointed!!! We are a one stop shop as we do it all right here in our state of art 8000′ shop with three full-time employees.

I am a cowgirl by heart and spirit. My Dad ran over 800 head of Black Angus cows…each year at the end of school my parents and I moved to the Blue Mountains to take care of the cows for the summer…I was my dad’s right hand man so to speak…he had me riding a horse before I was 2 years old.

To this day I am still riding my horses…running cows and riding hard was my life before I meant and married Wild Bill…and some of his early life was that way too…he buckarooed out in the Owyhee Desert on several large ranches….his Dad had a body shop in Vale and Bill learned how to paint cars by the time he was 16…he worked on  old cars back in the 60’s and 70’s so he knows exactly how to restore them.

This blog will be more about my life as a cowgirl and as a hot rodders wild and crazy wife too…..I hope you will enjoy the memories and way of life I grew up in….I hope you will also enjoy my blogs about Holton Secret Lab too….we have fun out here in Juniper Canyon…so come on in and sit a spell! Welcome to our home and our life!

My parents and I…and our horses up at the cattle ranch in the mountains on Beaver Creek.

Wild Bill and I at the Wyoming Cattleman’s Ball In Pinedale, Wyoming

Riding With Friends Is The Best Medicine For The Soul…Thank You Lana!

Summer Nights Feels So Good…Love You Melody!

Cowboy Son with Hobby and Bo

Cowboy Son Rubbing On Buck…3 Years Old

Cowboy Son On Buck’s Back For The First Time!

Buck is coming to live with us in a month or so…we are very excited to have him come home…and our Cowboy Son will always know where he is at and can come ride anytime…Yep!

So Hey Ya All…Hang On Tight…We Will Travel to Wyoming and To Post Oregon…and To Beaver Creek And To The White House…And To Juniper T Ranch!

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