Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch Journal
by Cris Paravicini

September, 2000

Sunny-Lesson 4
Sunny: Lesson 4
Hell bent for morning . . .
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Cris Paravicini has lived and ranched in Wyoming all of her life. These are excerpts from her diary of daily life on the family Pearson Angus Ranch northwest of Daniel...

September 1 - New Cowgirls & Cowboys
September 2 - Fires are over. Now it's SKUNKS everywhere!
September 3 - Yogi
September 4 - Sunny update
September 5 - Working Cows
September 6 - Horse Creek cattle herd
September 7 - 18 degrees
Rib Stickin' Ranch Vittles: Whole Wheat Crackers
September 8 - Fall is on the rise
September 9 - Dogs will be dogs
September 10 - Like squirrels
September 11 - Nosy calves meet porcupine
September 12 - Vaccinating
September 13 - Horsewreck
September 14 - Hard time getting water
September 16 - More vaccinating
September 17 - Old brands
September 18 - Fall hike
September 19 - Spiders
September 22 - Snow
September 23 - Drift
September 26 - Big moose
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Ranch Slide Show
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September 28 - Spooky fog
September 30 - First-ever horseback rides

September 1 - 7

New cowgirls & cowboys

Friday, September 1 Dark, foreboding clouds at daybreak; heavy rain by late afternoon. Finished stacking the last of the bales just 15 minutes before the deluge. 

Between bale loads and beneath threatening skies, a cute, four-year-old little lady - a summer visitor to Sublette County - enjoyed her first-ever-horseback ride on board JJ, my kindly, semi-retired gray Quarter Horse gelding. (You'll remember that earlier JJ had some swelling in his hock joint in July and August. It still bothers him, but he's solid on his feet, and though it hurts, easy exercise is just what the doctor ordered to keep the arthritis loosened up.) We rode around the meadow to watch the bale stacking operation and checked out the sheep in the river pasture. She and her grandparents and dad also tried their "hand" at milking Heidi. New cowboys and cowgirls! Great fun!

Fires are over. Now it's SKUNKS everywhere!

Saturday, September 2 Huge skunk year! Can't step out of the house at night, without stumbling over a skunk. Big skunks. Baby skunks. Moms and dads. Great-grandparent skunks. The whole family! That's what the BIG problem turned out to be (Remember the unknown breaking and entering at the hen house from the last diary). Yep. Herds of skunk roam up and down the empty irrigation ditches, loping through the rustling grass, visiting the chickens' feed each night, sometimes traveling in triplets. 
   Tonight when I went to gather the eggs and close up the coop, an old battle warrior skunk wasYogi chewing on the side of my crippled, old, yellow rooster's head. No real damage was done, as I arrived just in the "nick" of time. The rooster, however, was so scared, he just lie there in the scratch pen as though he was dead. I said a few words over what I thought was his expired carcass, but when I stooped to retrieve his bloody body, he feebly stirred in my hands. I tucked him under a big bucket for the night and will decide tomorrow whether or not he needs a merciful end. 
   I sure wanted to kill that old black and white "general" lurking in the shadows, but instead decided that he was just doing what nature had "egged" him to try. So, being a first-time offender, I did what I've been doing to the many droves of unfortunate skunks in these past weeks. When he wasn't looking, I swiftly grabbed him by the bushy tail, wound him up, and bounced the heavy fellow over the top of the hen house roof. What a ride! He then gathered himself up and dizzily loped into the darkness toward the river. If he returns...


Sunday, September 3 The old yellow rooster (his name is Yogi) is very weak, but still alive. Poor fellow. The blood dried up on his feathers, so the other chickens aren't pecking on him. I'll give him a chance to finish out his life cycle, hopefully in peace. 

Sunny update

Monday, September 4, Labor Day What about Sunny? Well, he's now 18 months old, broke to lead, and pretty well "sacked out," as we call it when a young horse is used to being handled: feet picked up, calm in the face of rattling/rustling feed bags, and pretty much considered Lesson 1"dog-gentle." (Tramp loves to help with Sunny's education!) The other day, a lady visitor called Sunny: Black Beauty. In thinking about it, his looks and actions kind of remind me, too, of Anne Sewell's famous horse.
   Last week, Rudy and I put my little kid saddle on him to get him used to the feel of something cinched snuggly around his girth. I pulled up the leather latigo a little at a time, so he would adjust without worrying too much about the new, strange feel and all the tight spots. Well, regardless of our "cutting him some slack," Sunny still leaned back into the lead rope, but sort of soft like, and Lesson 2then lay down - much like a little kid pulling a tantrum. We just let him ponder his situation for a while - "sull up" is actually the correct word - then we tailed him back onto his feet. Eventually, we all went about our day happy as heck. No problems. No worries. Next lesson...more leading...more sacking out...more saddling and fitting a bit in his Lesson 3mouth...then...this winter...step onboard...!

Working Cows

Tuesday, September 5 J. B. Bond shod three horses for us. Will be working cows this weekend and next week.

Horse Creek cattle herd

Wednesday, September 6 Put the Horse Creek cattle herd onto fresh meadow feed.

18 degrees

Thursday, September 7 18 degrees this morning! I can sure feel winter breathing down our necks. Froze 1/4-inch of ice in the dogs' water buckets. Heavy, white frost covering the valley. Steam rising from the rooftops as the first rays of sunlight fall across the slopes and valleys and chimney tops. 

Rib-Stickin' Ranch Vittles: Whole Wheat Crackers

Fall on the rise

Friday, September 8  At first light, the wind is already moaning in the gooseberry bushes beneath my bedroom window. The beaver continue damming off the pasture water. Fall is on the rise.

Dogs will be dogs

Saturday, September 9  Moved two bulls out of the Horse Creek pastures. The trio of dogs worked great! That is...until we were 100 yards from home. Mr. Jack Rabbit jumped out of a deep ditch, right up under their noses, and the deaf chase was on. I joined the race too, to no avail, hollering at the top of my lungs. "Come back, come back, you #@$*! bloody dogs! Get behind. Damn it! Bonnie, come back!" Yep, shy little Bonnie was the leader of the pack. By the time the rabbit hit the highway, I'd closed the ground between us and thereupon got their undivided attention. I stepped off my horse and delivered a quick swat across each rump, which hurt my feelings much more than it did their backsides. I was more afraid than any thing else, because of the danger on our sporadically busy highway. Will I ever get these "kids" raised?

Like squirrels

Sunday, September 10 More hay being trucked in. We kind of resemble squirrels storing nuts; if we could only know how hard the upcoming winter would be, we could stockpile accordingly.

Nosy calves meet porcupine

Monday, September 11 Vaccinated Horse Creek calves with their calfhood booster shots and roped and branded the slicks. Warm days, cold nights, dry, and dusty. Perfect pneumonia weather.  Pulled porcupine quills out of three nosy calves. Usually not many of the sticky, little rodents in that area of the ranch, especially this time of year. Strange year. Strange happenings.


Tuesday, September 12 Vaccinated in the Cora Valley this morning. Went to town for livestock grain and groceries in the afternoon.

Horse wreck

Wednesday, September 13 Last of the round bales hauled in from Pinedale. 
     The Boss helped my cousin, Gene, do some cowboying this morning. Boss reported that Gene's horse fell with him while chasing a stray yearling "hell bent for election." When the dust settled and the horse got up again, Gene's spur was hung up on the saddle. Guess he got dragged for a spell before he shook loose. Real scary, life-threatening deal! Jerked his leg pretty good. Limping around, now.  I told him one leg's longer than the other, now. Gotta be tough, though, and Gene's exactly that. 
     The Boss was dragged like that when he was a kid. A colt he was breaking fell on him and smashed the metal oxbow stirrup shut on his boot. Scared the horse real bad when it stood up and saw the helpless man hanging there. The bronc took off across the pasture, kicking and bucking the whole way. As it continued kicking at the boss, it connected with its target many times. Boss finally, instinctively, grabbed onto the horse's hind leg when it zinged by his head. The bronc kicked, violently, again and yet again, jerking the boss loose from the smashed boot and stirrup. Left him in a heap of sweat and mud and ran off toward the corral. Boss's uncle noticed the riderless horse running fast toward him. Knew something was wrong. Went to search for and retrieve the ruffled boss. Sore, but safe to ride and wreck many times, again.

Hard time getting water

Thursday, September 14 Having a tough time getting stock water out of the river. Sandbars and low tide and magnified drought. 

More vaccinating

Saturday, September 16  Helped cousin Gene do his calf vaccinating and branding. He's still limping on one stretched leg.

Old Daniel brands

Sunday, September 17 Worked with some friends and neighbors identifying old area brands for the upcoming Daniel area history book. Awesome legacy in the works!

Fall hike

Monday, September 18 Nephew Toby, four dogs, and Aunt Cris took a "little" four-mile hike up and down the river bottom, collecting old bones, artifacts, and a fall bouquet for Toby's grandma. A warm, quiet evening rolled in, filled with the beautiful essence of Autumn, chattering laughter, and four rambunctious dogs. 


Tuesday, September 19 Frost and ice clinging to the spiders' webs. They'll be hibernating soon, I hope. Never ever been able to warm up to the little buggers.  For the real scoop on my "spiderphobia," you just gotta read ITSY BITSY SPIDER in the storybook section!

Wet & wild snow

Friday, September 22 Autumn truly and officially begins with our first lowland snowfall. Scattered, at first, it didn't take long for all the clouds - big and bold, dark and threatening - to come together in a unified effort. Then behold! Wet and wild snow! 

Green River Drift

Saturday, September 23 More snow. Four inches by nightfall in our area. Up to 14 inches in southern Wyoming - just what the doctor ordered for our persistent drought. We'll take 'er in whatever form Mother Nature sees fit to deliver.
   Come evening time, when I chanced to drive by the Cora Y, I sure felt sorry for the Green River Drift riders - shivering cold and soaked to the bone, but still hard at work astride dripping wet horses. The sagebrush north of the road was alive with what looked like a colorful, rippling tidal wave of cows and calves a thousand fold that had trailed out of the high country - pushed along quickly by the harassing storm and the haunting memory of hungry wolves and grizzlies. The cattle had "hit" the highway fence full force, some bawling, some pacing, and all waiting their turns on the cutting grounds where they would be sorted to the individual ranches. No way in hell that the cowboys would ever get 'er all done by nightfall on this night. Tomorrow...and then tomorrow, again...

Monster Moose

Tuesday, September 26 Moved yearling heifers and two old crippled cows and their calves to new pasture. Saw a monster bull moose along the way. He was an awesome creature - tall and lanky, with a grayish-silver rack that was freshly out of the velvet, glimmering like the evening star in the fading light. The big boy nodded his head up and down, slightly hinting at his territorial rights, and though his gaze upon us was steadfast, he ignored the light bustle of activity - the horseback riders, the dogs, and the herd of cattle driftin' along right under his big bubble of a nose. Keep your head down, big fella; hunting season is nigh... 

Spooky fog

Thursday, September 28 Temperatures hit 50 degrees today, so Rudy rolled out the roofing material and tar and set to work waterproofing the new calving shed in the home meadow. Got most of it done by evening.
   The boss went for cataract surgery. Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah - 250 miles away - are our nearest specialists in most medical fields. Long trip! Four to five hour drive. Makes us feel like we're primitive and still living in the covered wagon or cave man days.
   Forgot to tell you about the strange fog that rolled down from the bluff one evening last week. Right at the fall of night, after a cold and damp, stormy day, I was making my way through the last corral on my way home from chores. I couldn't see real well in the dimming darkness, so I was absent-mindedly shuffling along not wanting to stumble over the dogs or the bedded down sheep. At the last gate, I looked over my shoulder toward the river, and witnessed the most eerie happening. From atop the sage-covered bluff, billows of gray fog seeped and rolled and tumbled silently through the brush, seeking out the game trails that led to the river bottom. The grounded cloud seemed alive and almost wicked. In a rush of cold dampness, I could feel its misty touch long before I could see the fog slinking through the cottonwoods. It then floated across the river and quickly crept through the pole fences, hell bent on enveloping the dogs and me in its icy embrace. The dogs stood beside me, hypnotized, peering in the same direction as my wondering stare. Because we seldom see such a weather event this time of year, I shuffled quickly to the house and convinced a disgruntled Rudy to join me for one last look at the spooky fog before the night swallowed it up.

First-ever horseback rides

Saturday, September 30 This past month has been a busy one, but was especially fun, too. I got to help several young ladies experience their first-ever horseback ride...and it all happened right here on the ranch. Gals ranging in age from 4 to 80 years old climbed on board my perfectly awesome JJ horse and we had a ball. From the tiniest of cowgirls to the more mature, everyone was brave, willing, and excellent sports - as they waded in and around the cow and horse poop. Of course, JJ is a veteran at first rides, so he seemed to understand the need to behave and to show everyone what a prince he is. I was proud of him and his new riders! One more cowgal to go before too many "dawns" have come and gone and before the next snow flies!

Where did that story go?!? The stories from earlier front pages aren't gone. We just move them to the monthly journal pages to make room for the latest diary entries on the front page. See the Journal Index for a listing of all previous front page journal entries!

The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, Wyoming, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, where she lives along with her husband, Rudy. Historic old Fort Bonneville, built in the late 1800s, is located next to her family's ranch. Cris is a writer and photographer for The Sublette County Journal newspaper, where you can find more of her accounts of life on the ranch. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2000. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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