Critter Sitter - Home on the Range Blog at - 281895

Home on the Range

Critter Sitter 
Aug. 15, 2012 10:20 am 
Updated: Aug. 23, 2012 7:11 am

I can make the most simple things complicated. It’s my own fault because of the life I choose to lead. Not having my milk cow, garden, critters, raising our own meat and making all my own bread, etc. or any of those other things I do, would make my life easier, but not very tolerable. My house would be cleaner and easier to take care of, but would not be home. 
As a friend recently said to me, “You are awfully high maintenance for a  low maintenance person.”

In order to get an injection I need badly, to combat pain, I have to have someone drive me 4 hours into town. That means someone else has to be here at the ranch to take care of my horse, sheep, goats, calves, milk cow, companion dogs and guardian dogs. No small feat.

The boss’ youngest daughter, now 17,  agreed to take care of my stock. This is a girl who can ride and rope with the fact she DOES ride and rope with the best and shoot a gun, skin a deer, doctor calves, stack feed, endear herself to both children and adults, clean houses as well as cook for a crowd and she has been driving a pick-up truck and trailer full of horses since she was 10 years old and operates a tractor, backhoe, semi-truck and excavator with competency. Basically there isn’t much she cannot do and do well.
All the boss’ kids learned to ride not long after they could walk and to drive as soon as their feet could reach the floorboards, since the ranch itself is 400 sq. miles and it is just a good thing for them to be able to do, in the event of an emergency.

Home-schooled like her 4 siblings,( the nearest school, 80 miles away, is a co-ed boarding school for high school age ranch kids) she now goes to the public high school, where they live in dorms Mon-Thurs, then come home to help with the ranch work on weekends. This, by the way, is a school where, in addition to attending classes, doing homework and competing in sports, the kids also do the cooking, dishes, cleaning, their own laundry, maintaining clean rooms and beds that are made and all the other normal things they would do at home and will do throughout their lives. They aren’t pampered, babied or mollycoddled, but treated with reasonable expectations and respect. They are hard working, hard playing, appreciate their family and live with integrity, compassion, a solid moral compass and powerful sense of humor. You don’t see much of this in our culture today, much to the detriment of our youth.

At  high-school dances, this girl kicks off her cowboy boots, hangs up her leather riata and steps into high heels. Her waist length hair comes out from under her Stetson and is loosed from its braid, long, loose curls cascading down her back. With an ultra feminine dress hugging her athletic frame, she leaves a memorable impression on everyone who sees her. She carries herself with class and has maturity, poise and discretion and has a dazzling smile. Rarely at a loss for dance partners, she does not compromise her standards. She is open to friendship but any young cowboy who tries to cross beyond that threshold would be wise to climb in his pick up and leave. The youngest of 5 kids, with 3 older brothers in wrestling, she joined the wrestling team as a freshman and was the only one to make it to the state championships...she didn’t wrestle on the girls team and the boys didn’t cut her any slack. She’s just that good. 
I heard she deflated one presumptuous and formerly pompous young man in front of his senior classmates by flipping and pinning a social event. 
She’s little but mighty and still quite a lady. She’s a unique kind of girl who is popular, but also respected, much as are her sister and brothers. They are the youngest generation of the family that we work for and have so enjoyed getting to know and admire. This country seems to breed this kind of individual. One of the close-by neighbors, who only lives 35 to 40 miles away, is purported to have been the Prom Queen some years back. She had to borrow someone's duster to protect her dress so she could quickly show her date how to properly skin a bobcat. Acrylic nails, dyed hair and jewelry aren't near as popular here as a good rope and a better horse. Teenage pregnancy isn't epidemic here, nor are STD's, but most kids know how to work a cow and drive a hay baler. (although our government is now denying them these opportunities, through the Dept of Labor, as they seem to feel it would better for our kids to spend their time playing video games and having sex.)

 The kids around here get along with their friends and thier friends' FAMILIES. 
What city people might call a common small town characteristic  "knowing everyone's business", we call it "accountability" and it's a great and much appreciated way to keep all of us on the straight and narrow, by people who know and usually care about us.
 This is still the real west and I am grateful for that.

I was happy and relieved that she offered to take care of my animals for the day, so I could get my much needed extra injection.

She came down the morning before we left so I could show her what to feed the milk-cow, horse and calves and who to turn-out-where, for the day, then in the evening, which calves get bottles, which goats get milked, how to set up the milker, milk the Jersey cow and all the rest that goes along with that, as well as how to clean the equipment.

At the last minute, most everyone from the ranch, including her dad, brothers and sister and Randyman were all called out to fight fire. Being shy of 18, she can’t go, so she was still able to feed for me.
I was a little anxious as I no longer drive if I can avoid it and it’s 250 miles to the doctor. It’s asking a LOT for someone to just ‘run you into town’.
Her mom volunteered to get up at 5 a.m. to come get me and take me into town. I was a little worried about going with anyone other than Randyman. Being in a vehicle for any length of time causes me a great deal of discomfort, as it usually ends up being about a 20 hour day, most of it spent in a vehicle. More than once I’ve employed the use of a wheelchair to make it through errands and I really didn’t want to do that, especially with someone else.

We had a great time, we went to a fabric store to pick out stuff to make dresses and rompers for my grandbabies. We kept finding more and more cute fabrics that I couldn’t make a decision on, so I bought them all. We laughed a lot, got our shopping done, neither of us was rushed out of the stores by exasperated husbands and I actually saved $500 at the grocery store, not having Randyman there throwing stuff in the basket, so I figure we are still ahead of the game, in spite of my indecision at the fabric store.

We made it back to the ranch around 2 a.m. We could see flames across the valley which looked to be on the winter pasture. It seemed as though it was traveling towards ranch headquarters, lighting up the skyline. We found out that the guys were all home from fighting the fire down south, so she woke them up to  have them check on the flames we saw. It was still about 30 miles away, so all the kids got up, helped unpack the vehicle and the guys went to bed, as they had to return to fire camp at 5 in the morning. 

I found a note from my ‘critter sitter’. It said things went well in the morning, but  in the evening things went a little differently. She had a hard time getting the milker working right, I guess the goats were mean and ornery like usual and refused to give her milk, but the cow was ok. The lid got stuck on the grain can and she apparently ripped the handle off trying to pull it open. I laughed when I saw that. She said she spilled enough water on the kitchen floor cleaning bottles and milkers that she should probably have whipped off her shirt and mopped it up. Everything was fed and alive so it was a success. She and her sister packed the big bags of dogfood into the house for  me and the following day she packed all the huge heavy bags of livestock feed to the milkroom.

It’s the first time I’ve left home in 2 months but it felt good to be back. EmmaLou and Mister were happy to see me. Cider and the Maremmas were beside themselves.
Too bad I can’t order groceries and give this particular shot to myself so I never had to leave, but at least it got done and we had a good time. Doc says I should notice an improvement by Wednesday. I think it started working sooner than that, because I was able to walk thru all the stores on my own power...maybe laughter really IS the best medicine.
Aug. 15, 2012 10:52 am
Oh Petey, what a life you live. I love your "critter sitter". What a gal! I can just envision the flip and pin move. :) Serves him right! I am glad you got your shot - you are right, too bad you can't administer this yourself. I hope the fire is under control and you and the critters are safe.
Aug. 15, 2012 11:29 am
Now that is a girl I would love for my son to date. He may not have grown up that self sufficient but he is a good kid that can't seem to find a nice girl. May we all get rain so the fires will stop!
Aug. 15, 2012 11:47 am
This was very enjoyable to read.Hope you and yours are all safr and sound.
Aug. 15, 2012 11:47 am
I meant safe.
Aug. 15, 2012 12:15 pm
Thanks for sharing this page in your life. I an happy to know that character and work ethic is alive and well in the youth of your area! Sounds like a wonderful family, and a young lady to be proud of!
Aug. 15, 2012 1:03 pm
Thanks! I couldn't love this kid more if she was my own. In fact, the boss' kids are so special, I feel like "I" am going through empty nest as they leave home. It was bad enough going thru it the FIRST time! LOL
Aug. 15, 2012 1:10 pm
Thanks B'nana. Haha I visualize it happening too and it makes me giggle. Cathill, I keep thinking what a great couple her and my nephew would make...but she probably wouldn't date him because he's too much like a brother. Manella, thank you, it's nice to meetcha
Aug. 15, 2012 1:38 pm
Another great story! I have often wished I (and my own kids) could have been raised on a ranch. Those families seem to turn out the most well-mannered, honorable, and RESPECTFUL young adults. Your critter sitter is going to make some man very happy someday...if her brothers ever let her get married :)
Aug. 15, 2012 2:10 pm
Congratulations all around! To you for getting out, getting your shot and enjoying your trip; to your "sitter" for making it through the day; to your escort for being so helpful and for raising such a remarkable child; and to your community for their teamwork and ability to pull the best from everyone. Wonderful story!
Aug. 15, 2012 2:37 pm
Nice to meet you to petey.Love all animals myself.
Aug. 15, 2012 3:42 pm
Thats one special girl.Your animals are lucky to have had her. Great blog Petey!
Aug. 16, 2012 5:10 am
Petey, I love reading your blogs, you lead such an interesting life, and your your positive outlook on life is so refreshing. I loved reading about your Pet sitter, she sound great. Thanks for sharing.
Aug. 16, 2012 7:03 am
Petey, I am so happy to read this. With all the stories and news I read and hear about the States and how things have changed I am so glad to read that some parts of the States could pass for many rural communities in Canada. Of course our rural children need to drive, shoot and rope by the youngun ages, in case of emergencies. Only differences are that our children come home from school everyday to fill their time with yard, house, and critter chores (when there selected sports are not is season). They still have TVs, phones and games-but the time for that is limited. I am so happy for you to have made these memories-one day that is all we will have left.
Aug. 16, 2012 9:54 am
Petey, I too suffer greatly from muscle/joint disease. I can really really related your trepidation about being in the car for a long time (I can only go 1.5 hr. and I am screaming for a rest stop), and such a long grueling day, doctors visit and shopping. What others can do without a thought for you and many of us is a major consideration and triumph. I do wonder however how in the world you can perform all your chores and manual labor that you detail in your blogs. It seems incongruous that the car/dr. trip is so daunting and you can get through those difficult chores too. How do you do it?
Aug. 16, 2012 12:42 pm
lots and lots of short breaks, covergirl. Actually, if I didn't HAVE to be there for the animals, I am afraid my condition would be a lot worse, because I wouldn't HAVE to keep moving and keep my strength up! So they are a blessing as well as a curse
Aug. 16, 2012 3:15 pm
ok,that's what I do too. I say to myself, I will do this one thing and then I will sit and rest. I will peel the potatoes for dinner but I will spread out newspaper on the kitchen table and peel them there. I try to minimize my steps, take everything going into the room where I am going in one trip, etc. In may case, I keep moving for my grandkids. I can see how your critters would be a motivator for you. Good luck to you. do the shots help, I am assuming it is something like Enbril etc.
Aug. 16, 2012 4:00 pm
I've gone thru Enbryl and Humera with no luck, but am currently on Simpone, along with MTx, predisone, and a couple of other things with some results. We still haven't found the right med combination to keep the symptoms at bay, mine seems to be pretty progressive since it raised its ugly head a few years ago, but I will keep fighting as long as there is life in me. :)
Aug. 16, 2012 4:29 pm
Hope this combo does it for you, esp. since it is such a huge undertaking for you to travel to get the shots. It is a gamble to try these drugs,considering side effects but you have a fighting spirit to be admired.
Aug. 16, 2012 6:15 pm
Petey i do admire your strength,and i hope all works out for you.Also meant to say i find your stories(if that's the right word)very pleasureable to read.Hope you have a great night.
Aug. 20, 2012 8:40 am
Sounds like another world in comparison to the suburbs of New York City where I was born and raised. Thank you for the interesting glimpse of your life. It sounds like you have alot of fun out there! Sorry to hear about your condition. I hope it gets better!
Aug. 20, 2012 4:53 pm
Thanks Jacolyn, I seem to be a lot better. Hopefully it will last a couple of months this time ! :)
Aug. 23, 2012 5:32 am
As much as you love your life, and don't like leaving the ranch, your day's outing, with the good companionship, the change of scenery, relaxation and laughs in the fabric shop, I'm sure all contributed to your sense of well being. Hope your latest shot will keep those awful symptoms at bay. I tried to describe the essence of your blogs to someone, but you know, when someone else retells it, it loses so much of your own wit and personality. Even tho they're not a cook/baker, I turned them on to AR, just so they could enjoy your writings and beautiful pictures. You're spreading a lot of joy in this world, Petey.
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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