The Sagebrush Sea

Ramblings from a Cowboy-girl.

Everybody Loves a Roan

A few years ago, I was relaxing in the bleachers at a rodeo, while a weirdo friend braided my hair.  “You’re going roan! I like it.”  Roan, the  sprinkle of white hairs, is such desirable coat pattern in horses.  Women. . .I’m not so sure.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout!” scream the glossy magazines and media.  Their not-so subtle subtext:  aging is shameful and grey hair is is to be covered.   Though everybody loves a roan, I began dying my hair shortly after the bleacher observation.   For frugality’s sake, I’ve declined to dye my hair for over a year, but my occasional discomfort with my current appearance has me questioning my cheap little heart.  To dye or not to dye?   Perhaps, I should just avoid mirrors and surround myself with other roans.

I was 17-years-old, when I spotted my first grey hair.  “Oh no, I’m becoming my mother!”  Horrified, I quickly plucked it from my head.  My mother wore her hair confidently in it’s natural salt-and-pepper state.   My  self-conscious, teenage insecurity took her appearance as a personal affront.  “Why would she choose to look so OLD?” whispered the little voice in the back of my head.  Apart from my mother, not many women were openly embracing the changes fueled by  stress, genetics, and time.  Aside from Mom’s personal, spiritual inspiration country singer Emmylou Harris, I was not aware of public figures embracing natural greying.

Fast forward a few years, I am nearly the age my mother was when my teenage-self believed her ancient.  As, my own dark hair is rapidly becoming sprinkled with grey, I admire my mother’s choice more.  Despite the mature appearance of the likeness in the mirror, I feel only slightly more adult than that girl who plucked that first alien hair so many years ago.  I’ve been under the mistaken impression that life would make more sense, as my appearance became more “dignified.”    How do you know when you are adult enough?  Grey hair clearly isn’t the answer  I’ve been looking for.  I can’t seem to find an “adultier” adult to soothe my anxiety.

Wiry greys sprout from my head like tiny alien antennas, defying the straight brown hair I’ve identified with for so long.  I used to scoff at women whose hairstyles never changed, snorting to myself, “My hair is not my identity, who I am is bigger than my appearance.”  Yet my own hair turns, and I am struggling with leaning into the discomfort of my changing appearance.  One thing is certain, I’d much rather surround myself with roan ponies, than have a roan ponytail.


Just a Cow

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
― James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small

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My Best Friend

The past two years have flown by, there was a time that my dog friend’s name was as fitting as could be.  Mouse was the runt of an unplanned litter out of an Airedale/Border Collie female and my husband’s good Kelpie.  She is a devoted companion, an enthusiastic (if not helpful) cowdog, door opening and chair hogging nuisance, who brings a smile to my face everyday.  I can’t imagine life without a canine confidant.

Little Boy Blue, Where are you?

I took a plunge and purchased a Jersey milk cow this winter.  At the time I bought her, “Karey” was an untrained, two-year-old heifer expecting her first calf.  I don’t really know what I am doing.   I’ve never owned a milk cow before, the only dairy animals I’ve encountered served as nurse cows raising bumb calves.  Since this Spring, I’ve successfully halter trained and stanchion broke her, though Karey is not yet a pet.  In May, she welcomed a healthy, bull calf into the world.  “Homer” was a small, doe-eyed critter.  So sweet to behold, he has grown quickly in the past five months into a something resembling a teenage teddy bear.

Homer the Jersey calf

Homer the Jersey calf, May 2015.

The milk drinkers in my household are pleased with the quality of Karey’s output and I enjoy reflective time with her in the quiet of the morning.  I know there are those who would disagree *cough* my husband *cough* but I find milking to be a meditative experience.  It’s the shadowy, stillness in the barn, dust motes dancing in the sunlight trickling through the small windows, in the presence of my cow I find a sense of peace.  I’ve also found forearm muscles, I didn’t know I had.

Mother and son

Mother and son

Now as I wean Homer, I’m spending more time with Karey in the quiet of the barn.  In those quiet moments, between the scooping of feed and manure, I am building a life of intention one deliberate moment at a time.  The cow might disagree.  Much to her chagrin in the past eight months, she has been haltered and led by horseback, made two trips up and down the Big Horn Mountains,  where she was picketed against her will and now I am taking her precious baby away from her.

Wild Mountain Jersey

Wild Mountain Jersey

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