The Sagebrush Sea

Ramblings from a Cowboy-girl.

Welcome Fall

The Fall Equinox graced this part of the world with a cool, clean morning that blossomed into a clear, sunny day.   The following days seem to shimmer with summer heat, but the blackbirds appear in large flocks and the cottonwoods are beginning to turn yellow.  It is undeniably Autumn in Wyoming.  With the change of seasons, comes the gathering and shipping of cattle to market.

I began my chores after I loaded my boy up on the school bus. My chore load has increased this year, with the addition of a Jersey milk cow to our animal menagerie.  Then, I gathered my best pony, Carlo, to work cows.  We’re both a bit chubby and out of shape.  So our trot to the far pasture was a leisurely one ,with lots of alternate walking.  All the better to enjoy, the moisture in the morning air and observe the locals.  We surprised ever-present Pronghorn, a family cluster of Mule deer, and witnessed a kit fox skipping about.  Ears that dwarfed its tiny body and the sweep of his tail were the only visible evidence of his presence in the tall grass.

My crew, Carlo and Mouse.

My crew, Carlo and Mouse.

I was lucky, when I reached the pasture all of my cows were handily grazing in the nearest corner.  It is rare, that it works out so neatly when working cattle.  After checking the water, salt, and mineral, I pushed the cows through the corner gate and headed to the nearest set of pens with them.  As the cattle fell off the hill towards the corrals, the thunder of horse hooves greeted me.  I had unexpected help from our herd of retirees and colts.  Although enthusiastic, they were piss poor cowboys.  The entire bunch of horses managed to stand in the gate long enough for the cows to loose interest in quietly passing through.  Fortunately, with some coercing on my part all parties fulfilled their expected roles and the cattle were successfully corralled.

Thanks for the help, guys.

Thanks for the help, guys.

It was delightfully fun to sort our yearling steers out of my little herd of cows.  I was able to work slowly, because time wasn’t an issue.  I paired cows through the gate, leaving the yearlings in a smaller pen.  I enjoyed every concentrated flick of Carlo’s ears and subtle step that resulted in success.  This is the life I want to build for myself, a life filled with moments that turn into hours free of external deadlines or distractions, fully-engaged in the present.





14 Years


My grandad's windmill.

My grandad’s windmill.

Fourteen years ago, as our country reeled from the tragic events on the East coast, I was a college student in the mountains of Colorado.  Hollow-eyed and apathetic, I was reeling from the tragic and unexpected loss of my beloved grandfather six months earlier.  The grief of  September 11th is etched into our collective memory.  That day the pain of thousands laid raw my already heavy heart.  My grandfather’s death was the first, big loss I faced in my young life.  The pain seemed insurmountable, I couldn’t see a way beyond the hole in my heart and the pain of an entire nation in mourning.

Hollowed out by the shocking circumstances of my loss, the World Trade Center tragedy was further evidence  of a bleak, heartless world.  I sank further into depression and apathy, wallowing in pain and making poor, alcohol fueled decisions. Time passed.  Almost imperceptibly, the tragic filter through which I viewed the world began to shift. No singular “Aha!” moment stands out in my memory; there was no distinct turning point.

Healing begins when you start to notice tiny miracles of the spirit.  The beauty of light, a stranger’s smile, and a passing birdsong.  As I begin noticing and indulging in observing nature, connecting with humans and animals alike, the raw edges of my heartbreak began to heal.

It is no mistake, I noticed the drama of the sunset silhouetting my grandfather’s Aermotor windmill on the anniversary of September 11th.    The possibility of tragedy is the price we pay for the gift of life.  I struggled before I  found the bravery to open myself up to the world, fourteen years ago.  Undoubtedly, I will struggle again.  But I know now, that true grace is found in gratitude and love, in the face of pain.

Well, hello!

The View from Sand Turn, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming. July, 2015.

The View from Sand Turn, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming. July, 2015.

Life seems to be humming along at a pace that is unmanageably fast. Months ticking by in rapid succession, good intentions paving the way to. . .well you know. I haven’t written, not because I don’t have time. I do. Because, I find my creativity hobbled by fear of mediocrity, i.e. perfectionism. However, with the help of a few delightful podcasts (check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons, truly inspiring). I realize creating a less-than perfect product is less harmful to creativity, than the damage caused by not creating anything at all. With that in mind, I’m reentering the world Sagebrush Sea. Help me feed this desire to create, what stories do you think need told?

Rodeo Rain

August 2014

Rodeo bound, our first few weeks back in our home country; we’re locked and loaded for Richey, Montana. This roping is the first social event our family will attend since our move and the three of us are giddy with excitement.  We can’t stop exclaiming to one another, how good the country looks.  We left Idaho in the midst of a drought; returning to Montana and Wyoming in one of the best moisture years folks can recall.   The closer we get to rodeo grounds, the darker and more ominous the clouds on the horizon look.

Cowboy canvas teepee, before the great flood.

Cowboy canvas teepee, before the great flood.

After pulling into the rodeo grounds, we unloaded our horses and we staked up our range teepee.  I like to acknowledge my Native roots by orienting my tent door to the morning sun and the East.  My husband is kind enough to indulge my whims.  With our horses watered and settled on grass, we settle in to visit.  It’s good to catch up with old friends.   Maybe it’s the miles.  Maybe it’s the years, but before long our bedrolls beckon.  The kid opts to camp in the pick-up, rather than the tent.  He must be more intuitive than we knew.  My husband and I  tuck ourselves in, too.  I sleep well, while it lasts.

In the wee hours of the night, rain begins pelting the canvas walls of the teepee.  The accompanying wind whips open the carefully tied teepee doors.  Wet canvas flopping in our faces, which are directly in front of the entrance, sleep is now impossible.  It is my fault.  As a result of our rush to pitch camp before dark and my insistence that the door face the East, we managed to set our tent up on an ever so slight incline.  Had we made a logical choice and slept with our heads away from the door, they’d have also been downhill.  Tolerating tent flaps, seemed less inconvenient. As they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Morning can’t come soon enough, but it brings little relief. The rain continues to come down.  The tent is saturated and sometime in the wee hours of the morning water begins to pool on the floor.  As it pools on the floor, it begins to soak through our bedding.  Every time I shift my bodyweight, I create an new opportunity for water to soak up through the four inches of foam in our bedroll.  Four inches of foam is decadently comfortable, but only when dry.  A weak sun rises, we do too.

The rain keeps falling.  I try not complain, moisture is no laughing matter in agriculture.  I’m weak, Ill admit it.  The heater in our pick-up never felt so good.  Guy sniffed out coffee, one of my husband’s many talents.  Definitely worth keeping him around for.  While folks debate the pros and cons of going on with the show, we are undeniably old and cold, with no dry clothes or bedding.  Another soggy night ahead of us, we pack our soggy selves up slink away.

Slicker, Slick, and slick ponies.

Slicker, Slick, and slick ponies.

Someday, maybe we’ll feel some shame for not sticking it out.  Today, I’m happy to have had a warm nights sleep during the wettest August on record in Montana.  I admire those knot heads, we’re lucky enough to call friends who gutted it all out.  You are a fine bunch.

Regards from a sissy la-la,


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