Friday, May 15, 2020

My day at the ranch

By Yellowstone

I ran into Lee Hammett, which was awesome since he’s one of my favorite people in the world. And I immediately told him, “I’m a cow professional now; so, if you ever need my help, let me know.” I realized my faux pas since “cow professionals” actually call themselves cowboys…or cowgirls.

“Oh, really?” he asked. “And how much experience do you have?”

“A day,” I boasted. “But it was a loooong day.”

He raised an eyebrow before breaking out laughing.

“But seriously, I got a 30-percent raise my first day!”

“They paid you to be there?” he asked.

“Well, no. That’s why giving me 30-percent on nothing was so easy.”

As I drove away, I thought about my day on the ranch a few weeks ago…and the whole memory made me smile.

I always knew I’d be a great rancher after watching John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.  I’d be amazing, as long as I didn’t have to actually touch…a cow.  But if I ran a ranch, somehow everyone would respect me because I’d be the only one wearing heels without falling – AND the job would still get done.  So, when a chance finally came along last week I thought I might die of pure joy.  I’d shown up on “immunization and branding day” (of all things) to interview Steve Blaser for his upcoming birthday.

“Can I talk to you?” I asked as he ran cows through a chute. “It’ll just take a second.”

“I won’t have time until five o’clock,” he said nonchalantly, and my eyes grew wide because it was only 11:30!

As I watched him, I decided ranchers aren’t in a hurry to get interviewed mainly because they must live off a different clock than the media.

“Oh…five o’clock.  Well, all right!”

Someone next to Steve told me I could help out if I wanted to.

If I could help in the way Maureen O’Hara did, then great!

“What can I do?” I asked Andrew Blaser, Steve’s son. “I’ve been to a cattle auction...and I saw a cow die once, but that’s it.”  Other than all the westerns....

“Do you want to give the calves shots?”

I paled, looking even more the redhead I am.

Number one: I am not a nurse, a vet, or a phlebotomist.

Number two: I thought I’d be terrible at giving shots and probably hit a calf in the eye or something.
In fact, if the apocalypse were actually here I’d probably die first from one of those weird things you see on the movies — like not being able to give shots or perform brain surgery....or whatever strange thing they had on “The Walking Dead.”  Maybe I should be glad the current apocalypse involves corona and not zombies.

As I stood there, thinking about how I couldn’t do anything – and maybe I was a useless city girl in high heels – I studied cowboys and cowgirls branding, tagging, and immunizing. Steve Blaser also eyed me like I was simply good at writing, but wasn’t tough enough to get out there.

With pent-up aggression only a redhead can feel, I took off my coat, purse, and keys. An obstinate fire lit my veins and I asked Christie Oleson – one of the best nurses EVER – to “show me the ropes.”

Inoculating cows sounds fancy, but it isn’t always easy – trust me, I know.  Sometimes the syringe is tough to shoot and the skin can be thick too!  There’s one thing I know, you need skin thicker than a cow’s to work on a ranch!

I gave shot after shot, getting faster and faster. Some of the cowboys were hilarious, fun, flirty, even mean. But, one thing was for sure, they were ALL nice after I inoculated myself. I looked down at the blood dripping from my hand. It happened because a calf, about ready to kill me, reared its head back and stuck its giraffe tongue out!  I paused in pure fear...and the needle meant for it, jabbed deep into my paper-thin skin.

Someone jokingly asked why I shot myself. I said, “I better be willing to use my own product!”

Justin Oleson, Steve’s oldest – and tallest son – handed me a bandana to wrap around my hand. “You want to stop?” he asked.

Who was he kidding? I wasn’t gonna quit now – not when I was getting a story.  Plus, another of Steve’s sons, Shawn, had given me a nickname, “Yellowstone,” because of the show.  When someone gives you a nickname…that practically means you have to see the thing through!

As Shawn tagged another calf, I put my high heel boot on a metal bar so I could position myself and inoculate another calf.

“You know,” Shawn said. “That’s Justin’s snot rag.”

It’s a strange moment, feeling your face contort after finding out your hand is wrapped in a cowboy’s snot rag.

Shawn laughed so hard then, grinning big and tagging another calf with practiced skill.

This is me on the ranch. The best day ever!!!

After the bleeding stopped, I folded the snot rag and gave it back to Justin. “That was really kind of you.  Thank you.”

Then, I found a beer and dumped it all over my hand. I know it was wasteful, but that’s what thoughts of death can do to a gal.  The snot rag was one thing, but I’d also just poked dozens of calves with the same needle that jabbed into my skin.  Who knew what I might die of?!

My life flashed before my eyes then; it was a short life filled with mischief and calamities.  Then, I heard my dad’s voice drifting through the memories, “Only the good die young.” That’s when, I figured I’d be all right!

So, I stayed for the entire day – did actually fall on my butt once – got a nickname, and learned something wonderful in the process.

At the end, I cornered Steve, hoping he’d give me a quote. The man simply said, “It was a perfect day.”

That was it?! My grand quote?

But as I walked with him a moment more, he talked about the simplicities of life and the beauties of nature. It was extremely thought-provoking, really. And as I listened to cows finding their babies, I wondered if the man had me stay because he knew the experience had the potential to change my life.

After jumping in my SUV, I didn’t leave for a minute. Instead, I gazed out, thinking about how dream-like the day had been, surprised by how much I loved it.

I visited the ranch to learn something about a man for his 72nd birthday, and in the process I ended up learning a lot about myself.

I can see why his kids and grandkids work so hard for him. They want to protect and preserve something he worked to build because it means something to him and now it means something pretty powerful to me as well.

1 comment:

  1. Cow professional??????????????????
    Not a term I am use to...........
    But what l do I know.............