Scenes from Behind the Fence #785

I was standing in a sleepy haze by the gate when my head suddenly jerked backwards.

“What the — hey, what, BAHHH TINY YOU ASSHOLE!”

I reached over and pried the hat strings out of Tiny’s mouth that he had just yanked off the back of my hat.

When he didn’t even flinch I threw my hat at him just to show him I was REALLY MAD.

“YOU DICKWAD!”

He slowly lowered his head to sniff my hat that had landed in a huge pile of wet mud manure and then walked away.

Well, at least I showed him.

Tiny

Next time he'll think twice.

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Cowboys, Zombies and Swedes

I woke up Sunday morning in the exact same position I laid myself down in, wearing my t-shirt and blue jeans from Saturday night with the lamp on my night stand still turned on.

Complete exhaustion. That’s where I’m at right now. We’ve been so busy at the ranch these last two weeks I’m starting to go into full on Zombie mode. It’s not like I’m trying to eat people’s brains or anything, but I feel like I’m just floating through the day on auto-pilot, not really engaging with anything.

I was up on a horse at the front gate watching the last of the guests mount up for a trail ride when suddenly I hear another guest talking to me.

“Uh, Katy?”
“Yeah?”
“Where were you just now?”
“What do you mean?”
“I was trying to get your attention and you were just zoning out.”
“Oh, um, I was just thinking about something.”
“Thinking about what?”
“I have no idea.”

I also had this very angry tall man from Sweden really get mad at me. Like full on in my face, voice raised and his big hands trembling with rage. It was annoying because one, he’s from Sweden and Swedes NEVER get mad at anything and two, I’m a charismatic nice GIRL and you frankly aren’t allowed to yell at me. It’s against the laws of human nature. Like kicking a puppy. You just don’t do it.

I realized during this situation that it’s hard to calm people down when you are in Zombie mode. I’m kind of worried I just cocked my head to the side and stared at him blankly, hopefully I wasn’t drooling. But it was also nice because when you’re a Zombie you aren’t easily rattled by angry people. Hell, if they get too close you’ll just take a bite out of them and be done with it.

I felt horribly about the whole ordeal until I found out everyone else on the ranch was already calling him “The Big Angry Swedish Guy.”

Instead of sleeping all day Sunday I did actually venture out. The ferrier invited me over to his home (double-wide trailer) in the country to ride some of his horses. And yes, I was wondering if that was the city-boy equivalent of inviting a girl over to “watch a movie.” But no, actually we did just ride horses, I even rode on one champion reining horse valued at $60,000! I’m telling you, that’s why I like country guys, they get how to impress girls. Fancy horses – not fancy cars. Seriously, write it down.

Anyway, back to the grind today, hopefully I’ll be able to get up some of my stories that are all half finished because I fall asleep at my keyboard before I get them posted.

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Obituary of a Pink Camera

On Friday the 16th of September in the year of our Lord 2011, Pinky the carnation pink Sony Cybershot camera, departed this Earth at the ripe old age of four and a half years to visit the ultimate photo op: Heaven, where the battery power is unlimited and flashes are always allowed.

Truthfully, no one expected Pinky to live as long as she did. Her predecessor, Aussie, a silver Sony Cybershot, survived a mere 1.5 weeks before he was dropped down a glacier in New Zealand and was instantly killed. The camera prior to Aussie lasted three weeks before it was stolen right from the purse of owner Katy at a rugby game in Sydney and was never heard from again.

So you see, Pinky was a fighter. Despite her owner Katy’s acute ability to lose, freeze, burn and soak all of her expensive electronics, Pinky persevered to visit the Caribbean, a few famous cities in Western Europe, and the greater portion of the Eastern United States.

In 2009 the desk in Katy’s office was ransacked by thieves and she feared that was the end of Pinky. The heartbroken and financially destitute Katy filed a police report with the hopes of avoiding having to buy yet another digital camera. Five weeks later Pinky resurfaced in the cushions of Katy’s living room couch and had apparently not even been in the office at the time of the burglary. Pinky had pulled through once again.

In 2010 Pinky joined Katy on her adventures out West. Together Katy and Pinky photographed snow in Colorado, mountains in Utah and the learned about the desert together in Arizona.

In the weeks before Pinky’s death, she had been joining Katy on horseback rides. Pinky’s exterior was visibly beaten from the journeys but her spirit was strong and her photos were as clear as the day she was brought home from Best Buy.

It wasn’t until the head wrangler used Katy’s saddlebags – Pinky’s home away from home – that her life came to an end. The head wrangler carelessly put his half open canteen next to the camera and by the end of the ride Pinky was completely submerged in backwash. Even survivor cameras aren’t invincible and Pinky peacefully slipped away as the ride went on. She left this world way she was always meant to go – on the withers of an adventure.

Since Pinky technically qualifies as an inanimate object and most likely has no soul, there will be no services in her honor (although this movie suggests otherwise). However, donations will be accepted by Katy to fund Pinky’s successor.

An photographic memorial to Pinky:

Italy

Touring the Italian country side


Tim Duncan

Pinky even got in with the celebs - the tall guy is NBA star Tim Duncan


We almost made it!

Pinky caught a glimpse of Mexico! But I wouldn't let her jump the fence.


May Snow in Colorado

Pinky and I learned together that in Colorado it snows in MAY

Amsterdam

Pinky had a wild side - just like Katy. Though she did always stay at least 20 feet away from anything that might be contagious or dangerous - just like Katy.

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When Mother Nature Hates You

“Katy, for the love of Christ! You are scooping horse shit in the pouring rain, stop whistling and acting happy!”

One of my bosses, Leslie, really hates the rain. She hates the rain because she seems to be really bad at forecasting when it will happen. I think when Leslie was little she must have littered or burned holes in a worm with a magnifying glass and really pissed off Mother Nature, because she really does have a knack for getting the opposite of what she wishes for.

Every day since last Saturday the afternoon storms have been rolling in around 4:30. That’s right when we have our last ride of the day.

On Monday we waited 15 minutes before we started team penning because it seemed like it was about to rain. Then when it didn’t rain Leslie told us to start and we got through about 20 minutes of the hour long session when the sky broke open and we had to bring everyone in. Then we frantically tore off saddles in the monsoon.

Yesterday we had a fast ride. Once again, the skies were ominous but no rain. Then it got sunny.

On the radio we heard, “Wranglers, since it’s clearing up go ahead and extend this fast ride to make it a full hour.”

I had started the afternoon chores in the tack room and said to one of the volunteers, “This is not going to end well.” She nodded in agreement.

Just as the rides were as far away as they could possibly be … CRACK!

A HUGE bolt of lightening struck nearby.

Doh!

Then on the radio I hear, “Hey, uh, wranglers, let’s bring the rides in as quickly as possible.”

Then seconds later, CRACK! Another close strike.

Then over the radio the wranglers chimed in, “Uh Leslie, my entire ride spooked at that last lightening bolt and Sandra fell off. But she’s OK.”

“Hey, Leslie, is it possible to smell lightening?”

“Hey Leslie, my group wants to get picked up in a van.”

I went with Leslie and the owner in the vans to save the rides from the rain.

“It WAS clearing up, what happened?” she asked me.

“The wind changed directions.”

“Fuck the wind Katy! FUCK THE WIND!”

“Yeah, that wind can be tricky.”

“Shut up.”

There's not supposed to be a stream there.

There's not supposed to be a stream there.


Today, once again, the skies darkened just in time for team penning.

So we waited.

And we waited.

No rain.

Then we mounted up 25 people.

Then it started to rain.

“Hey everyone, it looks like it’s going to pass soon, as long as there’s no lightening we can still have a go,” Leslie told all the guests.

I lead the group to the arena.

Then it started raining harder.

Then it started hailing.

“Ok everyone, now the radar says it’s only going to get worse so we’re going to have to cancel team penning after all.”

As the last completely soaked guest was hopping off of her horse the skies lightened and the rain turned into a light drizzle that tapered off quickly.

“GOD DAMN IT I HATE THE RAIN!,” Leslie said to me.

I gave her a sympathetic look and went back to my whistling and scooping wet horse shit.

I love the rain.

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Bring on the Rain

For three work days in a row now we’ve ended the day with some good monsoon season rain. I think it’s great because for one, we need it very badly and two, sunshine gets SO BORING when you have it for 95 percent of the year.

It’s funny to think that I used to dread the rain. Back in Tennessee and North Carolina rain was such a pain in the ass. It was always ruining my hair or my outfit or my plans. It was fine when I was just hanging around – I always liked the sound of rain and thunderstorms – but it was so annoying when I had to drive in it or work in it. The worst was at football games when I was sporting my stiletto PR heels and I’d have to run up the super slick bleachers to save my laptop. But damn it if my calves didn’t look good while I was doing it.

Now I can’t WAIT for rain. Every time I see clouds I get excited. Even when I was working in Colorado I liked the rain and we got it a lot more often there. I think it’s because when you work with animals and the land you realize how important the rain is, especially out here in the desert. After just one rain every thing really comes to life.

But also there’s just something fun about working in the rain. It’s very refreshing. Everyone becomes more up beat. And it’s not like I’m having to worry about my hair or my shoes. Well I sometimes still worry about my hair if the ferrier is around.

Anyway, I hope we get a few more showers in before the dry “fall” season starts.

The round pen swimming pool

The round pen swimming pool


Getting a shower

Getting a shower


The driveway

The driveway

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Behind the Fence 9/8/11

Scenes from behind the corral fence, number 339,389 out of 2,010,490.

“Hey Katy, has the head wrangler been having Sharon and Frank ride Stetson and Rocket?” asks the barn manager.

“Yes, quite a bit.”

“Well, he needs to know that those wranglers are WAY too big for those horses. That’s why the horses keep getting sore!”

“Oh ok.”

“I mean, seriously they are just too heavy to ride those horses.”

“I understand.”

“Oh and hey, guess what, but you can’t tell anyone.”

“What?”

“I got LAID last night!”

“Oh cool…”

“For the first time in TWO YEARS!”

“Oh … wow … do I know him?”

“Yeah, Grant.”

“What?? You were just telling me last week he wasn’t good for anything but looking good on a horse.”

“Well apparently he’s also really good in the sack. But don’t tell anyone.”

“Uh, ok.”

“So yeah, and just tell the head wrangler about the fat wrangler thing. And the horses getting sore.”

“Um, ok.”

“See ya!”

-END SCENE-

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Someone turn on the swamp cooler, ASAP!

All Day Ridin'
So it’s been hot around here lately. The high yesterday was 105, just one degree above the record high. Typically the averages this time of year for our area are in the low 90s, and I know that might still sound hot but that 10 degrees makes a world of difference when you work outside all day! And right now the humidity is around 20 percent, which makes it actually FEEL over 100 degrees. When it’s down around 5 or 10 percent this heat is much more tolerable.

I took the all day ride yesterday. Our horses are conditioned to the heat but some days are just freaking hot. I actually called in and had the ranch trailer in a replacement horse for one of our older geldings. He was very overheated and when he still didn’t seem to be cooling off after our lunch break I just knew I couldn’t take him back out.

I didn’t grow up with horses so I always feel a little embarrassed when I have to make a call like that. I’m a city girl, and you know how city girls are with their animals. When our dog starts coughing we’ll take it to the vet. When it eats a stick of butter we’ll take it to the vet. And don’t even get me started on weird skin bumps.

Since I’ve been working at ranches I’ve learned that animals can handle a lot more than I used to give them credit for. And also that a lot of animals get weird skin bumps that aren’t necessarily some deadly form flesh eating of cancer.

But at the same time I’d also feel terrible if something happened to a horse on my watch that could have been prevented. So I tend to be really over cautious and if I think something is wrong I’ll call either the owner or the head wrangler and tell them what’s going on and let them decide for me. Our conversations typically go like this,

“What’s wrong now Katy?”
“Well, Geronimo has this thing on his leg.”
“What kind of thing?”
“Like, a cut, thing.”
“Is it bad?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it bleeding?”
“Sort of.”
“Is it deep?”
“Kind of.”
“Is he lame?”
“Not really.”

And then the other person beats their face against whatever sturdy object is nearby.

But the owner actually didn’t seem too annoyed yesterday. And when we got back to the ranch another horse started to act a bit hot and the owner immediately took him to be hosed off and put under the shade, so I felt I made the right move. Which rarely happens to me, so I allowed myself a pat on the back… from … myself? I guess?

Anyway, one more all day ride in the books where I brought back the correct number of horses and riders. Hopefully I’ll get a few more of those kinds of all day rides!

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