Thursday, May 24, 2007

California Trip - Day 3

Thursday - May 17th, 2007
Caution: If presently bored, you may consider skipping this post for the time being. Sir believes that if you're not bored to start out with, you will be (by the time/if) you reach the end.

PC woke up only once at the cottage that night. I barely remember getting up with him, but it was around 4am. When both of the kids woke up at 6:30, I got up with them and took them out of the bedroom so they wouldn't wake Sir. We sorted through our suitcases until they made sense, got dressed and then joined our hosts for breakfast.

At first the kids were fussy, but I know a lot of it had to do with them still being tired from traveling. We made it through breakfast, saw Bells and her siblings off to school and then joined Aunt A as she did the chores. I was thankful that Dolly started warming up to Aunt A as the morning progressed because Sir and I had made arrangements to leave our children with her while we headed out to the ranch for the day.

There were little chickens to feed, a bunny to pet, cats to adore (PC loved this job), and a skittish dog to befriend (Dolly decided this should be her job much to the poor dog's horror). By the time Sir woke up and got ready to go, the kids were happily exploring the yard, swing set and whatever else they could find. Dolly was even looking forward to going for "a walk in the stroller with 'Aun-T'".

Although we had told my family we wanted to get to the ranch earlier, it was already after 10 by the time we got there due to a couple of stops on our way in search of a flashlight bulb. To our surprise, there didn't seem to be anyone around at all. We had thought that C and maybe my brother would be out to help us move the cattle and sort out the ones we wanted to sell, but when we left Canada we had planned on the possibility or probability of not having any help at all, so it wasn't a big shock to find ourselves alone. The first thing we did was to start looking for the horse gear. That proved more adventurous than we had anticipated and by the time we finally located the 'tack room' the better part of an hour had slipped by. The horses were still in the field behind the house, but the cattle had been turned out of the barnyard corrals since there was no water for them to drink. We weren't too concerned since they would be easy to re-collect and hadn't gone very far overnight.

Wisely we thought to locate the key to the corrals at the end of the driveway where we'd be taking the cattle before spending the time catching and saddling the horses we would be using. Only, we had no idea where to even start looking for a key. Thankfully the ranch cell phone had been left on the dining room table and the battery wasn't dead. I called my mom's office and spoke with her assistant. We were told that C was on his way back out to the ranch and that he would know where the Rattic Field gate key was. But, when he arrived about 10 minutes later, he had no idea where the key would be. C thought that Liz had a key, but she was in school. When we finally got through to my mom, she said that my dad had confiscated all the keys to all the gates from all of the kids and our best chance would be to wake him up and ask him where we could get a copy.

So, that's what we did. I felt terrible waking my dad up only a few hours after he got off work and to bed, but in less than five minutes, we had ring upon ring of keys and all we had to do was figure out which key unlocked the padlock on the Ratic Field gate. While C drove over to the neighbor's house where my brother lived to recruit him for the day's work, Sir and I hopped into our car and drove down to the gate to try out the keys. To my satisfaction, I found a working key on my second attempt. Sir and I returned to the house and joined C and my brother in catching and saddling the horses we would be using for the day.

I was bitterly disappointed to find my horse not only skittish of being caught, but downright determined not to be part of the activities that day. The worst part of my frustration was because, before I moved away, my horse had been one of the easiest to catch and most gentle horses around. C and my brother tried to convince me to pick a different horse... then suggested that maybe I shouldn't ride in my 'condition'. I was just as set on riding my own horse and ignored them. After all, it could be the last time I got the chance. Sir caught his horse Fancy, we saddled her and he started warming up a little while the rest of us chased our horses around. Finally I gave up chasing my horse and asked my brother to catch her for me. He gave it a try for five or ten minutes and then said that she wasn't going to be caught that day and if we managed to, she'd give me nothing but trouble. Then he went on to finish catching and saddling the horses he and C would ride. I told them to go on ahead and I'd either join them with or without a horse later.

As soon as the three of them were gone, I sorted the horses that I didn't want and put them back into the field behind the house. That left just me and my horse in the yard area. In less than ten minutes, I had caught her, and I had her mostly saddled by the time my mom and Liz showed up about half an hour later. When I finally got all the way up into the saddle, I was sure that the guys had probably finished pushing the cattle down to the corrals. So, I headed in the general direction stopping to take a look at my crippled cow on the way. C and my brother had gone off to bring in the last few pair that had avoided being gathered the day before and I joined Sir at the corrals where he was waiting for me. We rode back toward the house together glad to finally be making progress. My mom sent a girl who claimed to be a friend of my brother's to meet us halfway offering water which we gladly welcomed.

When we reached the house, we rested for a while while and got to know Meg a little while the other kids found and corralled the missing cows. Liz had joined the two boys on another horse when she got home from school. Once all the cattle were collected, Sir and I unsaddled our horses, brushed them down, turned them lose and drove back down to the corrals where we started the long job of sorting out the cattle to be sold. Curious as to what working with cows was all about, Meg was the only one to help us, and although she hardly knew what she was doing, she was a fast learner and turned out to be a huge help. Once we were nearly finished, all the other kids showed up and watched us work from their vehicles.

It was already 4pm and the truck and trailer was due to arrive to haul the cattle at 5. Instead of waiting around, we decided to run back into town to get our kids. We had to get gas and we grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way since we'd missed lunch. My mom was planning a rib dinner, but it didn't look like it would be ready for a while. When we got back to the cottage, everyone was sitting down to supper. I tried calling the cell phone to see how things were going with the cows, but there was no answer. Since our kids were already up to the table with food nearly served, we decided to feed them there instead of later. Besides, chances that supper at the ranch would be late were rather good. We got changed out of our riding clothes, Sir drank just about every open bottle of gatorade, juice or water that we'd put in the fridge from our trip down, we packed up our kids and their pajamas and headed back out to the ranch.

When we got there the truck and trailer had just arrived to haul the last of the cattle and we were able to watch/show the kids/help. It was already 7pm when we got back to the house after walking the rest of the herd back into the main field. My mom had C start the barbecue and preparations for supper began. I was really glad we'd fed our little ones at our host's because it was 9pm by the time supper was served. There were ribs, mashed potatoes, green beans and a salad. After supper we visited a bit before getting our kids dressed for bed and heading back to the cottage for the night. Stiff, sore and dusty, we happily welcomed hot showers before crashing at 11:30. And I manged not to take a single picture throughout the entire day - much to my frustration.


  1. Nope not bored at all! Though sad about the lack of pictures... =(

  2. I had a pair of those boots once upon a time! Great memories. Not boring!

  3. You can tell Sir he was wrong - I enjoyed reading every word. :)

  4. Nope. Not bored. Where is part 4????? :)

  5. <yawn>

    ...and then beats a hasty retreat under a hail of shoes and rotten fruit.

  6. wow huge post! I just got some riding boots like those last week, except they are black and don't have that western fringe think on the front