of The South Dakota Cowgirl…
I’ve a confession.
I haven’t ridden a horse in 10 days. Yes. I said 10 days.
Some cowgirl I am.
I realize that I may be a fair-weather cowgirl- or at least one that would prefer to not ride in the wind and snow that has rained down on us off and on for the last two weeks. This time of year there’s not much to be done. Most of the cows have been put away for the winter, and I don’t mean we put them away- I mean they’re moved to their winter pasture and there’s not much to do until we start feeding them cake or have too much snow on the ground and need to feed them hay.
However, yesterday, I did manage to make it to the barn to feed my horses and rub on the rest of them that are in the corral. Here, as a general rule, we don’t grain horses, or feed anything supplemental to hay- with the exception of the weanlings colts and fillies. But we are behind. As usual. So there’s no cute, fluffy colts to rub on. Trust me. You’d know if there were!
That said, I like to feed The Gump all winter, and this year, I’ve got a horse called Pitstop to feed as well. I love to spend mornings in the barn, and while it was a balmy 18 degrees, sunny, and windy yesterday it was really nice in the barn. Almost nice enough for me to want to ride something. Almost. If we had a heater in the barn, I’d have been all. over. it.
That was yesterday.
Today was a completely different day- which is often the case with our weather. You know it’s cold in the morning when you wake up to this:
It was about 10 degrees when I made my way to the barn at about 10am this morning.
And if you were paying attention when you read earlier you noticed that I said, MOST of the cows are put away for the winter. When I went down to feed the horses, I was asked to help load the dry cows (those cows that didn’t, for whatever reason, breed this year) and some long-yearling bulls left-over from last year- as tomorrow is sale day!
I love, love, love ranch work even if it involves trudging through the snow, afoot to do it. So Bud, the cowboy’s youngest brother and I, sorted replacement heifers from those cows and yearling bulls that he was taking to town today.
I got to work the gate. I always think that’s a cool job to have, but I wouldn’t want the responsibility on anyone else’s outfit for fear that I’d get yelled at for missing a sort. No one yells here. You may get yelled-to, but not yelled-at. There’s a definite difference.
We got the cows and bulls sorted off, and I went to catch my horses. I sat in the barn and watched them eat, while a lazy English Shepherd named Jake sat beside me, and two cats sat in my lap, purring contentedly. And then I realized that despite the muck boots, I couldn’t feel my toes. That 10 degrees sure didn’t feel that cold when I was out running around in it sorting cows and calves.
That had me contemplating something warm to do- so I put the calves and two cows we had sorted off to keep, back into the pen with the rest of the calves and cows that aren’t “put away” yet. That got me a bit warmer. Jake really thought he needed to help. And he’s pretty good help. When he pays attention.
By that time, while I was slightly warmer, I wasn’t anywhere near being toasty. I suppose on some levels it was my fault. I was, after all at the barn in Pajama pants, with some ski pants over them (frankly it’s time to invest in some Carhartt bibs but we won’t go there now); a tank top, sweartshirt and heavy fleece over that. I practically live in fleece from November through March. And I was smart enough to pull on a skull-cap and some wool gloves with Thinsulate in them. I can’t say I was uncomfortable, I just couldn’t feel my toes.
I got my horses put back into their lot, and realized Bud was ready to back the trailer up to the loading alley, so I ran, to help him do that, and then we began the process of loading the trailer. It didn’t take too long, but we did have a couple cows that were certain they should stay here with us at The DX Ranch. A few trips for me over and through the foot and half tall snow drift in our round pen that connects to our shipping alley really had me warmed up! And then the trailer was loaded, and I had to jump over the fence to close the gate on the trailer.
That pretty much ended my morning and my chore list.
And that my friends, is a day in the life of this South Dakota Cowgirl.