Its been a busy summer. With work, the kids, our 20th anniversary and my first time in the pulpit, I haven't ridden a horse in over 6 months. With fall coming on, it's time to break out the harness oil and start getting my saddle and tack in shape.
As a young man, I ran cattle with my father. When I look back on the years I spent as a full time cowboy, I think the memories of that time have been skewed a bit, by time and by the romance of my youth.
The 16 hour days in the June heat gathering cattle in Murphy Canyon and Wildcat Canyon are still vivid in my mind. All the cattle trucks I loaded in the choking dust of the White Corrals at the Blue Diamond Ranch, all the cuts, bruises and smashed body parts I had after branding and vaccinating 600 head of Brahma cross steers. I still have a few scars from those days.
I remember my father telling me to learn about computers or something else besides ranching. He was right. I still enjoy gathering cattle in the hills, although I haven't had the chance for a while now. These days I prefer playing cowboy. Show up in the morning, gather cattle, have lunch, ride around the hills in the afternoon 'looking for strays' and load up the trailer around 4:00 to head home.
I am getting soft in my old age and I know it. Saddling my horse at 5am and getting to the main gate before sunup, riding all day through the brush looking for the last three head of cattle on a 6,000 acre ranch would kill me today. I have also put on a few pounds since then and I know my horse would strongly object to this endeavor.
I guess I'll stick to trail riding and hope I get invited to a ranch branding in the spring. I can still throw a pretty fair heel loop.