Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Step Closer

The sun appeared and dried out the corrals just in time for branding last weekend. It was hot, but not too hot. The cattle gathered easy in the early morning cool and the box elders provided some shade for the branding corral. Our crew of Zeke, Gabe, Mike, Cammie, Sara, Dawson (yeah, I know he's only two) and Danish exchange student, Laura Wang, handled the job well.

Mama cows with their baby calves were happily back munching lush canyon grass by afternoon while the branding crew enjoyed a feast of delicious Bunchgrass burgers, fresh salads and homemade rhubarb custard pie. We deserved it!

After the work was done, and our hunger satisfied, we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful warm day. When things cooled off, Laura, Cammie and I took a leisurely ride along the Imnaha River. The temperature was balmy and the evening light bathed the high red rims and green carpeted canyon slopes. A gentle breeze rustled the thick ribbon of trees hugging the river and everywhere birds sang and darted above us in the softly descending evening.

I felt like we could have just kept going, clear to the Snake River, our horses' rhythmic hoofbeats in the moist dirt, the soothing sway of the saddle beneath me, the clean soft air on my bare arms, with just a hint of summer's brutal heat.

Before we knew it we had ridden longer and travelled farther than we intended. So we turned and took the long trot toward home, grateful to have had those few hours to remember how blessed we are to be doing this work, to have these animals to care for, to spend another day in the canyon surrounded by the memories of those who were here before us, who taught us and whose encouragement we still need.

Yup, with the branding done, we're one step closer to starting up the trail to the summer range.

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef