February has arrived and we’re still in the midst of Winter here in Idaho. While the rest of the country settled in around their television sets to watch the Super Bowl, I bundled up to share a super bull Sunday with my husband. Layer upon layer of warm clothes, which I top off with hat, scarf, coats, and chaps. I was still stacking on clothes, when my chivalrous husband informed me our horses were saddled and loaded.
Despite the cold, celebrating togetherness horseback is a gift. I stuff additional gloves and mittens into my pockets and jump into the pick-up with my cowboy. After weeks of suffering under a dreary cloud inversion, the open desert on a clear day is a welcome sight. The sagebrush covered hills dusted with light covering of snow beckon to me. I am warmed by a happy heart.
The sun’s attempts at shining are welcome, despite the crisp wind. Preparing for the conditions requires an additional layer and minor adjustments to my hat and scarf. I’m nearly ready. The mittens are most welcome. The downside of warmth is a loss of mobility. When I mount my horse, the only one laughing is my husband.
He leads the way. Down the trail and over the hill we go. We’re gathering a small bunch of bred heifers and the herd bulls. It is time to start feeding them, so we are moving them closer to camp. As it happens, all the bulls are on the upper end of the pasture. I am stuck with them, while the boss rides the outside circle.
Bulls are bad. In my experience, a bull is one ton of contrary testosterone. If they don’t want to go, they won’t. I work up a sweat, cussing and hoorah-ing the bulls over the hill. Only to chill down, because they move so slooooowly. This is how the day goes. I’m hot, I’m cold, and so on. At least the sun is shining.
Sometime before we reach the second and final gate with our herd of contrary cattle, I regret drinking an entire pot of coffee. My options are limited: (1) keep riding or (2)answer Nature’s call and expose myself to the cold. “You can tough it out,” I say, “we’re almost done. The house isn’t that far.” The upbeat dialogue in my head continues and I cowboy on. By the time we’ve counted the cows through the final gate, I’ve almost forgotten I have to go.
Once the gate is closed behind our charges, we’re closer to home than our pick-up. The wind is increasing and there is snow in the air. The sun is fighting a losing battle, we decide to trot home. Jolting through the sage, I cannot resist any longer. Bailing off my horse, I hand the reins to Guy, and find a suitable sagebrush screen. So it begins. Buckles and layers that must be undone; it is a race against the clock. In this moment, I regret wearing mittens. Again, my husband is the only one laughing.