On the Ranch...

On the Ranch Journal
July, 2000
by Cris Paravicini

Haying begins soon. . .
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July 1 - Bull turnout day
July 6 - Waltzing moose and misguided cattle
July 8 - Fence line in steamy quagmire
July 10 - Barn Swallows
July 11 - Dog & horse power
July 12 - World's problems solved
July 13 - Swinging to the moosic
The Devil's Dance - Cowboy Poem
July 15 - Bakin' & freezin'
July 16 - Old Timers' Picnic
July 17 - Deluge
July 18 - Preppin' for haying
July 19 - Bit by a bee
A Hornet's Nest - Cowboy Story
July 20 - Baby Kildeers
July 21 - Calm before the storm
July 23 - Legend
July 24 - Thankful for good friends
July 26 - Meeting a Sublette County 'scentless' skunk
July 27 - Dog days of summer
Even Cowboys Cry - Cowboy Poem
July Journal

Bull turnout day

Saturday, July 1 Bull turnout day! Brought the big boys into the corral, carefully, tenderly, quietly, so they wouldn't fight and tear down the fences and gates. Attitude! Loaded guns! Dynamite! These guys flare at the drop of a hat. We loaded two at a time into the horse trailers, then hauled 'em out to all the pastures to meet the ladies. Used the saddle horses to drive some of the bulls to pastures too boggy to drive a vehicle. Mosquitoes were thick and mean and hungry! Slow going. Alkali mud everywhere. Mark your calendars. Next year's calf crop will start arriving between March 25 and April 1. More work. More work... 

This was Tramp's first outing with us on horseback. Found out he's very afraid of water and thunder. Lots of work needed to retrain his brain. Patience. Time... 


Waltzing moose and misguided cattle

Thursday, July 6 Miles and miles of fence to fix. Every year Rudy faces more than his fair share of rotted posts, missing staples, and sagging and broken barbed wired (flattened by waltzing moose, misguided cattle, or heavy snowdrifts), and once again, needing propped up, fixed up, and stretched tighter than a fiddle string. "Good fences make good neighbors," my ol' granddaddy always said.

Ahhh...Haaaa...yes siree, it's rodeo time in Sublette County. "Let's go! Let's show! Let's rodeo! Rodeo Bull FightersLet's get wild, wooly and wee bit western! Let's get this show on the road!" These were the words I always loved to hear from one of my most favorite of all rodeo announcers - Mr. Earl Hardeman, a special man who encouraged and brought out the best in all of us, no matter what odds we faced. Tonight is the first of three big Rendezvous rodeos in Pinedale. I headed on in for the big show with my son and my camera. The judges and bullfighters always save a spot for me in the arena, so I can shoot at the rough stock (saddle broncs, barebacks, and bulls). We have a signal worked out between us - the bullfighters, the judges, and me. I keep a Bull Pokerpretty good eye on 'em, too. If one of them is a tapping his closed fist with his other hand, it means the upcoming bull is a "man (or woman) hunter," and will come out of the chute red-eyed, blowin' smoke and lookin' for...ME! (read my poem "The Devil's Dance" on the storybook page)

Fence line in steamy quagmire

Saturday, July 8 ...And still more fence lines to trudge along, up and down the valley - through sage and pine, and bogs and bugs so fine... Speaking of bogs, where only skinny, little jack snipes dare to wander, we packed a bunch of steel posts and a homemade post pounder, a 16-pound post maul to drive down the wooden posts, wire stretchers, staples, a hammer, and fence pliers (Big son John was home for a few days, and we made good use of the stout lad). Fearlessly, into the steamy quagmire we dragged our supplies - cussing and whining like a pack of distraught coyotes in the humid, sweat-filled air. But we (the dad, the son, the mom, and three loyal cowdogs) did hang fire till we'd finished digging in the last heaved and tilting fence corner and pounded the last staple. Boy, sure feels good when a job like that is done!

Barn SwallowsBarn swallows

Monday, July 10 Back to the irrigating shovel. Still very little rain for the valley hay meadows to drink in. Gotta scatter the shrinking snow runoff in a methodical and calculated way to best keep the ground soaked. Haying season is slipping up on us like a bad sunburn. Hope the crop stacks up for us, but it's looking doubtful. It's so dry around here, the barn swallows are having trouble locating a good mud supply for their nests. They have to travel so far for each little mouthful of mud, they're panting and puffing and their tongues are hanging out when they return. Plenty good enough supply of mosquitoes, though, for 'em to snack on and regain their strength.

Barn Swallows
Barn Swallow

Dog & horse power

Tuesday, July 11 The boss put out the alarm at about 7 p.m. "Four, damned, ol' bulls missed the pasture gate and are holed up clean away from the cow herd. Saddle up. No time like this time. Daylight's burning. Bugs ain't too bad. The evening's cooled down and we got nearly a full moon on the rise. Let's ride!" So we saddled up and we rode. Of course, the bulls all had minds of their own about which way is the right way. Two of the cowdogs worked real fine. Bo and Bonnie, you're real honeys. But, one (you guessed it - Tramp) worked in perfect fashion, but always on the wrong end of the bull. Conquer by Confusion, is Tramp's motto! Geez, lots and lots of work still to go to retrain this mixed up little vagabond. I'm gainin' with his lessons, though, and ain't gonna give up on him. Hey, he's still sittin' on my boots and grinnin' up at me! Finally, the bull just gave up and let Tramp work his head - like an irritating head fly - all the way to the new pasture. Nephew Toby rode his mechanical horse - the 4-wheeler - and managed to plane out across an alkali mud pot and get high-centered, but good! Well, now, this is my kind of roping, so I tossed out a "lifeline" to Nephew, he tied onto the "critter," and ol' paint (Hawkeye) and I stood on a solid ditch bank, leaned into the rope, and nice and easy like pulled the wheelie to high, dry ground. Oh yes, the joys of "real" horsepower! Got the last bull to rejoin the ladies at about 10 p.m., and rode in to the barn and had our horses unsaddled, brushed down, and turned to pasture by 11 p.m. The man in the moon just smiled and winked at us.

World's problems solved

Wednesday, July 12 The boss and Rudy went to the neighbor's ranch south of here to look at a hydraulic hay rake. And you might like to know that lots of the world's problems were solved in a matter of hours.

Swinging to the Moosic

Thursday, July 13 Just got some really awesome western swing music from a new friend way back in New York City. I mean this is some good stuff! I was hooked on it, so I even took one of the cassettes to the milk barn to listen to while I milked Heidi. I gotta tell you, she was one contented cow - chewing her cud and crankin' out 1/2-gallon more milk than usual! Ahhh, Haaa, don't you just love cowboys!!!

Bakin' & Freezin'

Saturday, July 15 The boss's wife (my mom) and I are starting to bake and freeze
extra vittles for the upcoming haying season - homemade bread, noodles,
biscuits, cakes, cookies, and pies are always a big hit with the hay crew.
Mowed the lawn this afternoon. Seems that no matter how dry the weather is,
the lawn always flourishes - lush and green and thick and tall and fast.

Old Timers' Picnic

Sunday, July 16 Went to the Old Timers' Picnic - a 19-year old tradition, which honors our elderly Sublette County folks. Had a great time beneath the beautiful Wyoming skies, warmed by 90-degree temperatures, good friends, Cowboyfood, and a tossed together "sagebrush" band.


Monday, July 17 Surprise!   It actually clouded up and really dumped a fairly decent amount of rain. Even had puddles. Up and down the road a spell, though, the neighbors reported that the deluge had plumb missed them. 

Prepping for haying

Tuesday, July 18 We're starting to pull out the ol' haying equipment. Will get it
up and ready, "taped, glued, and wired together" for take-off around August
7; then the saddles will hang idle in the tack room and it will be hay,
hay, hay on a tractor seat for the next 25 days or so.

Bit by a bee

Wednesday, July 19 Some kind of a danged bee stung me in the knee this morning when
I knelt down to dip up a fresh bucket of water for the dogs' night pens.
Powerful pain! Brings you right to your feet and makes ya think of many
"lovely" things to say about the little drillers. And every time -it
happens, it brings back memories of all the times I've been "bit by the bee."


   The legend around this ranch says: Redheads are more apt to land in a
hornet's nest than anyone else, and I don't disagree. During my lifetime,
I've been stung so many times I've lost tally, and each summer "me and the
bees" still make connections, one way or the other.
   My first memory of the big sting was back when I was still riding a
stick horse. I'd thrown the big "sorrel" fellow over a foot gate near the
corral and began the climb to join him on the other side. Little did I know
as I stepped on the top pole, that my hoss had squarely speared a mammoth,
smoking hornets' nest during its airborne trip.
   By the time it all registered, I had been "hit" twice and was knocked
backwards, landing on my back in the dandelions. I left "Old Red" to fend
for himself and raced to the house to let my mom know I was dying.
   The next summer, when I was about six or seven years old, I headed down
the irrigating ditch near our old house. I hadn't gone far when the soft
ground along the path ignited in a storm of yellow jackets that were trying
to make their home beneath the sandy ditch bank. They were outraged at the
little brat who'd stomped through their territory and stirred 'em up.
   It took only a second for them to put fire in my baggy pants and a buzz
in my tee shirt as they swarmed into every opening. Once again, I was sure
I was dying as the bees drove me back to the house. My mom ripped off my
clothes, and the "jackets" flew to the four winds.
  Over the years, I've even been stung while moving cows. I can simply be
riding along minding my own business and out of the blue - Pow! - they've
gotcha. After being "nailed," the pain grows rapidly and moves away from
the bite site like fire in dry prairie grass. It goes from a sharp nip to a
deep tidal wave of pulsing pain, radiating from your pigtails clean to your
   I, now, can predict precisely how bad the pain will be, if I chance to
see the little devil before I've pinched, stomped, slapped, squashed, or
scared it off with high-pitched screams.
   I've knelt down on honeybees while filling bale-sweep water cans at a
creek or slough, and have discovered that the impact from their sting
doesn't last very long. But from the little honeybee on up the chain of
command to bumblebees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps, the effects of
the sting can be the topic of conversation for days.
   This summer has been no different for "me and the bees." One morning, I
was sweeping out the outhouse getting ready for the hay crew, and while
nonchalantly humming Song of the South, "...the bare necessities, the
simple bare necessities...forget about your worries and your cares..."
something kept tapping me lightly on the head and shoulders. Still, I
continued sweeping and humming, while the tapping kept happening, until
suddenly it dawned on me that my humming had picked up a deep bass
accompaniment, and I thought, "Oh, sh--!" 
   When I looked up, the little one-seat cubicle was swarming with
hornets. Seems I'd been poking my broom handle against their football-sized
homestead that was hanging in the corner. I knew, indeed, as I listened to
the intensity of the drone vibrating deep within the layered paper nest, I
was NOT welcome. But, for some strange reason this particular colony of
little hotshots only warned me, politely, "Get the heck out! And stay out!"
Because I never argue with any bee, I backed off...until nightfall.
Baby Kildeer

Baby kildeers

Thursday, July 20 The cutest, little baby killdeers have hatched and are scurrying around the pastures. When we get too close, their hyper parents give a high-pitched trill and pretend to have a broken wing to lead us away from the little ones. The dog herd is not allowed to even think about checking out this tempting curiosity.

Baby Kildeer
   Well, I'd better close this diary; sun's settin' and I can hear the
milk cow a hollerin'. Take care, folks!

The calm before the storm

Friday, July 21 Everything is right on schedule, except for the growth of the hay. Many ranchers are beginning their haying, though, even as I write this. We'll be joining them, shortly, but for the moment, we're still in the calm before the storm, hoping that the crops will grow a little more,
and still doing the haying equipment readiness thing. Much to do in this department: change points/plugs and oil; check fluid levels in batteries, transmissions, etc.; check air pressure in all the tires; hook the mowers to the Massey Fergusons, the C-Farmalls, and the John Deere tractors; pressure wash all the radiators, get the New Holland small square baler tuned up, pull the old hay sweeps out of the moth balls...the list goes on and on...


Sunday, July 23 Went to a family birthday party. My favorite family country-western band (kinfolk!) - Legend - played great music all through the toasty, sunshine-filled afternoon. What would we do without cowboy music, mixed with just a little bit of rock and roll!

Thankful for good friends

Monday, July 24 Many summertime friends have been visiting Sublette County recently. And today, our good pal from southern Wyoming arrived for the month-long haying season. He mows for us and is an all-around hand and lifesaver with mechanics and good humor. He's like one of the family, and we surely appreciate him!


Tuesday, July 25 By this time of the year, all the ranch babies are growing up quickly - right under our noses - kids, calves, lambs, and Canada geese. The perfume-laden lilac blossoms have dried up, but some of the most beautiful butterflies continue to visit the ranch. Fleeting rain showers are doing little to soak our thirsty earth, but the sweet scent of dampened sage lingers in the evening air, and for just a while, we forget all our troubles.

Meeting a Sublette County 'scentless' skunk

Wednesday, July 26 Big day, today! Took a neighbor's baler out for a trial run in my cousin's cut hay. We'll be renting this round baler for the 2000-hay season. Wouldn't you know it. Rain! Just enough to stop the operation, but that's okay. Better late than never, as we sorely need the moisture and lots of it.

   Hauled my good, old gray horse, JJ, to the veterinarian for x-rays on his hock joint. He twisted it about three weeks ago while trying to avoid the teeth of one of our mean geldings, and it's still swollen and fluid-filled. The diagnosis: no severe arthritis or bone chips as feared. The doc gave him a cortisone shot in the joint and sent us home with some anti-inflammatory pills. Expecting full recovery for this great family horse!

   At 9 p.m., I rounded up my two nephews, Toby and Ben, and their friend, Lars, and excitedly headed for the chicken coop to show 'em how to catch a "scentless," Sublette skunk. (The first one of the season was haunting the ol' hen house when I gathered the eggs at dusk.) Everything went as planned. We shone the flashlight in his eyes to hypnotize him; even scratched his back with an old t-bone. The little critter just arched his back, leaned into the itch, and seemed to say, "Hey, while you're at it, please catch that left shoulder just a little bit." 

   Well, like I said, everything was falling into place as planned. Lots of chattering and strategic approaches were initiated while swarms of mosquitoes gnawed and harassed us. Sweat beaded on the boys' brows, glistening in the bouncing flashlight beam. You wouldn't have seen my damp
forehead, because I had my hat pulled down tight, ready for...whatever...!

   Soon we had the little stinker lifted into the air by his tail hairs and spirited into the fresh night air. Because it was a first-time offender and only a juvenile, we decided to let the skunk go free. And like I said, things looked real good...until I turned it loose. 

   I forgot to tell you that, like usual, the dog herd accompanied us on our little adventure. When I gave "Flower" a toss into the darkness, with only a feeble flashlight beam to light his way, the dogs thought it was a barn cat. Fair game! The chase was on! I hollered at the two older cow dogs
- Bo and Bonnie - and they dutifully fell in step, behind my hip pocket. But, Tramp, oh dear! You remember Tramp, the hyperactive little orphan who recently joined our "animal farm," well, he circled the skunk, once, then came in for a three-point landing, full-well planning to heel the little
marauder right on down the trail. Pow! Tramp took a direct hit in the face. That's all it took. One shot, and he scurried back to rub his head and burning eyes on...me. Oh boy!

Dog Days of Summer

Thursday, July 27 HoooWheee! Those Dog Days of Summer!  Hot dog, temperatures have been frying us mountain-raised folks, everyday. Nationwide, much discomfort, many droughts, and failed crops have been blamed on the Dog Days of Summer, and perhaps rightly so, because Sublette County hay raisers, indeed, are experiencing a pretty dandy crop reduction this season. Spring feed in the sagebrush country didn't make an appearance this year, either - barely enough to cast a shadow across a gnat's back. The cattle, pretty much, kept their bags packed and just trailed right on through the spring allotments, heading for the slightly greener pastures of the mountains. Even in the usually lush creek bottoms, the bumps and knolls are as dry as 'tater chips, and the meadow crops - both native and tame - are only knee-high to a tall grasshopper. Yep, weather-wise, we're really up a creek, and we don't even need a paddle. Yep, we're gonna go out and get it, anyhow, even if it is a pitifully puny hay crop. Makes you wanna cry, sometimes, but we gotta just cinch up the ol' belt, toughen up, and deal with it.  Been there and done that before. What's that they say - Just do it!  (Read my poem: Even Cowboys Cry on the poem page.)

   But, luckily, if you look hard enough, there's always a pillow to land on. Beef prices, though now beginning to evaporate, still look pretty good. And, the current Sahara condition, complimented by our recent June Ice Age, has put the "Whoa!" to many of our sharp-toothed insects. As for the rest of the little buggers, still hanging on...they're being choked into submission by the easy-rising dust. Kind of makes a snow bank look darned good, right now!

The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, Wyoming. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 1999-2000. Drawing of Daniel Schoolhouse by Teresa Shenefelt. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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