July Visitors

Last summer, a family who loves wool wanted to visit.

Google map knows where the ranch is, but does not know how to get here.

My 12-year-old daughter, Abby, answered the phone 10 minutes after their scheduled arrival.

She nodded a few times, her eyebrows scrunched together, then I heard her say “Do you have four-wheel drive? ...Give it all you got!”

The visitors were on a muddy field road, facing a deep, wide puddle with no place to turn around.

A few minutes later, they pulled through our gate. We had a pleasant visit, then one of them asked: “Do people ever visit twice?”

Abby’s reply: “Only if they’re crazy!”

My friend, Katie, must be crazy.

Katie brought her family to the ranch last year and again last March. Last week, Katie brought her sister and her niece.

We ended her trip last March by shearing sheep. Let’s just say the whole family slept well on the train going home.

This summer trip should be different.

Our first task was to repair fence across three water gaps.

The creek was about knee high at the first two spots. We rolled up our jeans, sprayed insect repellent all over, pulled off our shoes and socks and waded in to collect washed out wire and fence posts.

The fence was supposed to tie into a sandrock cliff so I handed the post driver to Katie.

“Can you and Avery pound a post into those rocks?” I asked.

Apparently not, even after moving the post four times and wearing out their biceps. They came up with a better design and made it work.  

The sharp rocks in the creek made it hard to tell if we stepped on rusty barbed wire. Still, Julie mentioned tetanus only once.

The next water gap was muddy. Tiny fish nibbled at our ankles.

Katie noted that people spend a lot of money on spa treatments like this one, even without the sun beating down on their necks.

After tying all of the wires across that gap, we enjoyed a grand sense of accomplishment, lunch on the flatbed and soft, supple feet – with only a few scrapes and bruises among us.

The third water gap was deeper, wider and swifter. The fence on the other side was washed out, too.

No little fish would nibble at our ankles. They couldn’t swim against that current.

Katie and I found a crossing upstream, stripped to what we hoped looked like bathing suits and loaded up with fence posts, pliers and wire. We waded in up to our thighs while the rest of the crew stayed on the grassy creek bank.

They tied yellow baling twine together, knotted the twine to a metal plow foot and tossed it across the creek. Abby tied a good knot to the fence on her side. Abby has been tying knots since before she could speak so I knew hers would hold.

Two strands of yellow twine won’t keep a bull from greener grass on the other side, but it’s a visual barrier. And the neighbors will recognize my signature fence-building material.

The next day, we sorted pairs in a hot, dusty, windy corral. As we wiped mud from our teeth, that fishy foot spa sounded enticing. Eleven hours in the saddle might have been a bit too much that day, but we got the cows sorted.

The crew picked small square bales while I swathed hay, then we erected the teepee. Nobody complained about the hard ground or the little burrs when we laid out our sleeping bags about 11 p.m.

Yes, summer ranch fun is far different from spring ranch fun.

I sure hope they all come again.

Lisa Schmidt