Monday, May 19, 2014

Love this picture I took of my husband and one of our heifers.

Working Woman's Hands (An original poem by Dawn Nelson)

Working Woman’s Hands

I was standing in line at the market the other day

When I saw a young girl, look up at her mother and say

Mom what is wrong with that ladies hands behind us in line

I looked around then realized she was talking about mine

I watched the mother smugly turn to her daughter and say

My momma said you can tell a lady by her hands any day

With hands like that a woman can’t be good for much in life

Pretty hands are needed to live happy and be a good wife

I looked down at my hands to see what the fuss was for

Granted they were dry, cracked and from a broken knuckle still sore

My thumb was swollen from where a cow smashed it last night

And my hand was black and blue from breaking up the dogs fight

The scar from the branding iron was still able to be seen

Just above my scratched and dented golden wedding ring

I had to admit my hands showed years of work and neglect

But about me not being a lady she was incorrect

I looked at the lady with her soft hands and designer gown

I wanted to pay for my groceries and head fast out of town

I looked down at my little cowgirl who stood at my side

Her feet braced, hands on hips, eyes squinted and mouth open wide

Looking less in her eyes was the only thing I didn’t want to see

I wondered if she was embarrassed by being seen with me

There is nothing wrong with my mother’s hands, I heard her say

She is tougher than anyone I know, even on her worst day

Every scar on my mother’s hands, has a story to tell

From wild cow chasing wrecks to the day she and her horse fell

My mother’s hands comforted me when I got hurt and cried

They even held the head of Mom’s best horse in her lap as she died

I proudly watched my mother save a newborn calf’s life

And I have often seen Dad kiss her and call her a good wife

So you may think that my mom is less of a lady then you

I’ll be the first to tell you, I know for sure that isn’t true

A tear slid down my cheek as she said, I think you should understand

I am the proudest eight year old to hold this working woman’s hand



Monday, December 17, 2012

Cold Cow

     It was a cold, icy February afternoon about a year ago when this story took place.
     My husband had went to go see one of his friends that afternoon determined that I could take care of the ranch by myself with the help of my then, almost five year old, daughter.   And with me being the determined person I am to show him I could most definitely take care of the ranch while he was away, agreed.
     The temperature that afternoon was well below freezing and with it being that cold I had to break the ice on the water trough at least twice a day.
      On that particular day I had already fed the cattle herds and had busted the ice on the troughs once. It was about two in the evening when I headed out to check the cows and break the ice again.
     Our cattle were split into three different herds, that  year. The first herd I checked I found two new calves. After tagging them, I quickly changed herds and checked the second one, five calves. So again, I tagged the calves and went on to the third and final herd for the evening.
     The third herd is where this story takes place. I checked the herd as usual and on that day tagged four new calves then weighed and tagged two new registered calves.
Then promptly I drove down to break the trough that provides waters for both the second and third herd. By this time my daughter had fallen asleep on the front seat so I quietly got out and grabbed the ax to break the ice. Trying not to wake her up while opening or shutting the door.
     That is when I saw it, a large black nose and two eyes sticking out of the trough, but nothing else.
     I quickly jumped onto the frozen ice and made my way out to the cow. As I neared her I saw her eyes following me and breathed a slight sigh of relief as I realized she was, at least, alive.
     “Don’t worry old girl, I will get you out of there. I promise.” I quietly said to the cow as I chopped at the ice in front of her hoping to break a path out, for her.
Our water troughs are homemade twenty by twenty three foot deep concrete troughs that are either well or windmill ran.
After about my sixth chop on the ice the cow moved a bit and tried to regain her footing. However, with the cold water and the slick concrete trough bottom she instead broke more of the ice.
     A cracking sound caught me off guard as the ice broke beneath me and sent me almost waist deep in the freezing cold water. I cursed as the cold water hit my legs.
     After that I waded back to where the cow was and tried to help her get to her feet. After a few fetal attempts I realized that it wasn’t any use, she was old and the freezing cold water had made her weak.
     I knew I was going to have to go get the tractor. I left the pickup with my sleeping daughter and quickly ran the whole way to the barn where the tractor was.
     As I ran my coveralls got stiffer and stiffer. I knew they were freezing from the water. I knew I had to hurry or the cow would be dead.
     Within fifteen minutes I was back to the trough with the tractor and a couple chains prepared to lift the cow out of the trough.
     I fastened a chain around her girth and was able to lift her out and lay her down on the ground near the trough. I quickly unhooked the chain and tried to get her to stand. She fought me a few times then gave up.
     I knew that I had to get her dry or she was going to freeze to death. Hastily I searched the pickup for towels or anything to dry her with, no luck was mine to be had.
     So I took off my jacket and started rubbing her, hard, with it. She began shivering and I knew I was getting a little warmth back into her body.
     It wasn’t long however until my jacket was soaking wet and starting to freeze from the water. I tossed it aside and took off my sweatshirt and started rubbing her with that.
     The cow tried to stand once and then fell back down again. By this time I had been working on her about twenty minutes to a half hour. I rubbed her legs and tried to get her dry but it wasn’t long before my sweatshirt was saturated and also starting to get hard from the wind and freezing cold.
     I tossed it aside and took off my t-shirt. I was able to get the main part of her body dry to the touch and was feeling like I was making progress finally. Again I worked on her legs trying to get more blood flowing to them.
     Before long my t-shirt was soaking wet and not doing much good so I slipped off my thermal wool undershirt. I rubbed and worked on her legs frantically as darkness was setting in by this time and I knew I had to get the cow up and moving.
     About twenty minutes later the cow stood up and started back towards the herd slowly and unsteadily.
     I stood watching her, proud of myself for what I had done. I gathered up my wet clothes, tossed them onto the flat bed and climbed in to the truck shivering myself.
     “Mom, where are we?” Came the sleepy voice of my daughter who had just woken up beside me on the seat.
     I looked over at her and smiled despite my shivering. “Checking cows, sweetie?” I said as she opened her eyes and looked at me.
     She wiped her eyes and gave me strange look and innocently asked. “Why are you wearing only a bra?”

                   The End                          


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our Muscle Man

              Our muscle man

     You just never know what is going to come out of a five year olds mouth. Expecially, when that five year old is my daughter and follows me around on a regular basis.

     She has taught me to choose my words carefully more than once.

     On this particular story though it wasn’t exactly what I said as much as how she put it together.

     You see it was fall time and we had just pulled the bulls away from my registered cows and doing such caused my big bull to pace the fence wanting to get back to his girl.

     As we were driving by one day my daughter looked up at me innocently and asked inquisitively, ”Mom, why does Muscle Man always walk the fence?” Muscle Man was our bulls name. He was a big black Glebvieh bull who was all muscle from the tip of his nose to his big round bubble butt.

     “Well honey,” I started knowing full well that she could hear the truth and have no problems with it. “He is horny.” She looked at me like I had just made all the sense in the world, I love that look.

     I was feeling pretty good about my explanation until Monday rolled around. As usual I watched the school bus pull in to the driveway and my daughter step off. I watched as she picked up her cat and looked over her shoulder at Muscle Man as he made a lap by the house.

     “Stop being so horny!” She yelled across the driveway. The bull paid her little attention and continued with his path.

     Once inside the house she looked at me with a sly grin. “I told all my friends about Muscle Man today.” My heart sank.


     “Yep and they said they don’t believe I have a horny Muscle Man at home.” She innocently said.

     I about fell over laughing. “And what did you say to that?” I asked.

     “That they were jealous and just wished their mom had a horny muscle man at home, too.”

     “I am sure that was it.” I smiled as every red blooded American woman should have a horny muscle man at home, even if they are just walking her fences.

Spring Colt

Spring Colt

     It was springtime on our ranch and with spring time comes green grass and with green grass comes fresh horses. It just seems to go hand in hand, don’t ask me why but it does.

     Every spring I seem to be doing the same old thing, like it or not. I am the gal who gets to see what the saddle horses have forgotten over the long, cold winter months.

     I had three gelding in the trailer that morning and all three full of piss and vinegar clean up to their ears. They were fat and sassy and full of themselves.

     I am not much of a round pen person. I use a round pen for a few things but try to keep my time there limited. Once I get a little buck out of a horse then I like to take them out to the hills and work them.

     The first of the three had no squabbles, he took everything like he was an old trooper. I ran him a quick lap on the ground around the round pen and satisfied the bucking was going to be minimal I climbed aboard.

     He walked a little gingerly but kept his back straight. I walked him about five laps and broke him into a trot, he humped up his back and kicked up his heels but that was all he had. After two more laps at a trot we broke into a lope and finally I opened the gate and headed him up the road.

     We rode for about a half hour until I saw sweat glistening on his neck. He hadn’t done anything wrong so I turned him and headed back to the round pen.

     Pulling my saddle I tied him to the trailer and unloaded the next gelding, a four year old, and walked him to the round pen.

     I saddled him and stood out of his way as he leapt for the sky five or six times. I worked him another two laps and satisfied it was all out climbed aboard. He moved out eagerly. We did the same routine as I did with the first one, walk a little, trot and then lope. I soon opened the gate and took him up the road he was eager to get out and stepped out great. I had no fears that he was ready for the year at hand.

     When we had finished our ride I returned to the trailer for the final horse. A big, strapping, six year, old appaloosa gelding. We got to the round pen, saddled up and he refused to move off. I knew what that meant, he had a secret that he didn’t want to show me just yet.

     With a twirl of the lead rope he was off, snorting and bucking like he had never carried a saddle before in his life. I quickly grabbed the stock whip and cracked it in the air a few time to take his mind off of bucking. It worked. He straightened out and ran laps. I asked him to change directions and again he took to bucking. I cracked the whip again and he ran straight.

     After about fifteen minutes of snorting and bucking at every change of direction I must confess I got a little irked. So I grabbed the bridle and slipped it on him gave the cinch a tug and stepped aboard. He gave a snort and bucked three hops. I matched his hops with hard kicks to his side, finally he got the message and trotted smooth around the pen.

     Then I opened the gate and headed him towards the farthest cattle pasture at a long trot. I knew the cows in that pasture needed to be moved and with him acting like a spring idiot I was going to make him work.

     About a mile later we pulled up at the pasture gate. He was huffing, puffing and still looking for home. I opened and closed the gate and got back on.

     As I came full astride and before I could get my second foot in the stirrup he lowered his head and lit to bucking again. I sucked swell with my knees and used the reins as an over and under. He ran full length of the branding corral fence with his side to the boards. I caught a couple splinters on my lower leg and cussed the day of his birth.

     He kept bucking and I kept the over and under going until he straightened out and hit a full run across the pasture. I dropped my legs, found my stirrups and let that son of a buck run.

     The next gate came into view so I slowed him and he seemed eager to obey. As we reached the gate I stepped off and opened the gate and laid it back along the fence. This was the gate the cows were going to come through to get into the pasture what we just run across.

     I sucked up the inside rein and climbed aboard my bronc expecting the worst. He never moved, he stood rock solid breathing like a freight train as I got on and quickly found my off stirrup. I sighed a deep sigh of relief as he walked off towards the back of the pasture as if he knew now what I wanted.

     We rode another hour rounding up the cattle and pushing them towards the gate. They went good until we started across the last small meadow before the gate.

 In this meadow was a small man made pond, the last water hole before the new pasture, and all the cows stood around it getting a drink. My gelding and I stood a short distance away waiting for them to drink.

     Finally when the cows were all done we started in towards them at a slow walk. My dog circled the far side of the pond and eagerly moved the cows off the edge.

     We successfully had all the cattle pushed away from water and heading towards the gate when a big black bull saw my dog. He started for him and without thinking I gave a hard kick to the gelding and started to head the bull off from my dog.

About three quarters of the way to interception of the bull and my dog I heard a very subtle sounding ting. I knew the sound instantly…… wire.

     A small hunk of barbed wire flew by my face and to my udder shock landed on the gelding forelock and there it was caught.

     I no sooner saw it then that gelding must have thought a giant bird had hold of him in its tallows for he instantly dropped his head and took to bucking.

     In the sudden stop and rapid change of stride I about lost my seat and knew I was going to come off so I did the only thing I could, I grabbed the reins and turned his head into my knee.

     He spun once and that was enough for me to hook my off knee under the swell on that side. I silently thanked God as I straightened myself back astride the still snorting and bucking gelding.

     He headed for the cattle and I turned him back towards the pond. I headed him straight towards that pond not knowing quite how deep it was and

          …………SPLASH we landed center of that pond.

     Now that gelding must have thought I had done everything for he just froze instantly still, not a movement except his breathing and our heartbeats could be heard.

     I quickly reached up and pulled the small six inch strand of wire from his forelock and petting him a bit to calm him down. The whole while wet and smelly from that stinking pond water.

     After a few minutes my gelding calmed and grabbed himself a drink in the mid belly high water.

     After he drank we walked out and back over to where the cattle had already found the gate by themselves. We closed the gate and headed for the trailer.

     He never made another bad move nor has he ever bucked in the years since that episode.

I am not sure if he thinks I am the devil and will stick my claws in him and try to drown him again or if he just realized it wasn’t worth it, but whatever the reason he has been a great horse ever since that spring ride.

Monday, April 30, 2012


This story is pretty funny, if you are not me, my daughter, my husband, my washing machine or my clothes…..okay maybe it is only going to be funny to you.
On the day this incident occurred, my husband had gone to one of his friend’s house for the evening and left me and my daughter home alone.
I figured I would catch up on some house cleaning and laundry before we retired for the evening. My daughter eagerly helped me for a little while but soon fell asleep on the couch and left me to fill the washer up the next time.
I quickly filled it up and went to wash dishes. I was busy scrubbing a frying pan when a strange aroma hit me. I knew instantly what it was. I dropped the pan and ran to the shelf above the washing machine. To my horror a small bottle with a bright yellow label was not where, it was supposed to be. The house was quickly getting stronger with the smell.
I cringed as I heard the washing machine shift cycles. “Oh please no!” I yelled as I opened the lid and tears sprung to my eyes from the stench that hit me full force from the open lid.
I wiped the tears from my cheeks and stuck my hand into the foaming water in the washing machine.
I quickly felt the bottle and pulled it out. I looked about the laundry room my mind reeling with what I should do as I looked at the small little brown bottle that was going to cause my husband to have a fit of frenzy. I knew he would make me throw all the clothes away in the washing machine if he knew so I made up my mind if the smell came out I would never tell him about it.
I quickly set the now half-full bottle down on the dryer and emptied all the water out of the washing machine with buckets and hauled it outside about a hundred yards away from the house and poured it out. Then I rinsed the washing machine out with vinegar and hand rinsed all the jeans.
After that, I placed all the jeans back in the washing machine, put in a cup of vinegar and two cups of soap. I washed those jeans three times that night and lit every candle in the house to get rid of the smell.
I threw another blanket on my still sleeping daughter and opened the doors and windows wide despite the cold early spring air.
To my luck, he came home about one in the morning and went straight to bed. The next morning I was a little surprised to hear nothing about the smell.
We decided to go out to breakfast that morning and when we came home and opened the door the smell hit us full force. My husband said, “What is that?”
“I don’t know. It must be a dead mouse or something.” I replied. I lit some more candles and within a day or so the house the back to normal.
Since this incident, I no longer keep my coyote urine above the washing machine.


Ranch Wife 101

Ranch Wife 101
I have heard many people claim to be a real ranch wife these days. I have heard women who don’t own a cow to their name claim to be a great ranch wife.
I have even been told how I need to dress, as a ranch wife, by women who can’t sit a horse, never owned a beef cow, butchered their own meat, grown a garden, castrated a bull calf or had to forego anything so that they could afford salt or feed for their cows.
As a woman who has come from a long strain of ranchers, I feel that maybe I need to clarify a few things about being a ranch wife. So here they are:
If you think that, you cannot wear a baseball hat while out chasing cows………you may just be a dime store cowboy.
If your refrigerator doesn’t consist of vaccine and food……you have no hope of ever being a ranch wife.
If you put yourself before your cattle, horses or family………your brain may not be working at full capacity.
If you think that you cannot get cows in on a horse without a lariat, chaps, spurs, cowboy hat or saddle……you may just want to chase cows with a few real ranchers one day.
If you have never removed wire, bolts, fence staples/clips, ear tags or buttons from your washing machine……you are not a ranch wife yet.
If you think that there is, only one way to ride a horse, rope a cow or pull a calf……you may just want to visit a real ranch someday.
If you think that you are the only person to ever saddle up a bronc…… may just want to watch a few rodeos.
If you think that it is impossible to get a cow in without a wild rag tied around your neck…….you might just be a phony.
If you have ever been able to plan or schedule anything and not have it interrupted by cows…….you are not a ranch wife.
If the only name brands you know are, Schering-Plogh, Y-Tex, Stetson, Red Brand, Justin, Ariat, Billy Cook, Reinsman, wranglers or Pfizer …….you may already be a ranch wife. (If you don’t know, any of those…..go back to the city.)
If you have to be explained to, that that is not mud on your boots…… may just want to go back to the city.
If you think that there is only one style of saddle, bridle, bit, spur or cowboy hat…… may just want to get a tack catalog.
If you try to tell a real ranch wife how to keep her family, horses or cattle happy and fed properly……you may want to duck.
If you always have the ingredients in your house to follow a recipe…… must live in town.
If you talk the talk but can’t walk the walk…….you may just be a fake.
If you can’t read a hot brand….you may just be city slicker.
If you can’t feed a crew on a minutes notice after being out all day and working all day yourself…….you are not going to cut it as a ranch wife.
If you have never checked cows during calving season in a nighty……… are not a ranch wife. (With coveralls on, it don’t matter what is underneath.)
If you lunge your horse every time before you ride…….then you have obviously never had cattle out.
If you think getting dressed up means putting on clean cloths…….you may be a ranch wife.
If you have ever used your freezer to store dead mice, hides, tissue or hair samples or other dead animals……then there is no doubt that you are a ranch wife.
If you have ever referred to the vet room in your barn as your office…….you are a ranch wife.
If you think you need to dress in overpriced clothing to be a ranch wife………you may just be an idiot.
If you have ever forgone buying a new pair of winter boots because you knew you had to buy salt for your cattle and money was going to be short…… are a hell of a ranch wife.
The sad truth is that true ranch wives numbers used to be many but now we are down to a precious few. Women who can work all day out in the hot sun or freezing cold with their husbands, fathers, grandfathers and hired hands, and still make a meal at days end that will make your mouth water.
Women who believe family, friends and livestock come before themselves. Women, who will take a three-year-old colt up to the mountains to round up range cattle. However, most of all have the guts and gumption to use them like a broke horse and not baby them all day.
She doesn’t need to dress the part because to her it is not a part it is who she is. She is easy to laugh and hard to make cry.
A true ranch wife may be a little course or crisp around the edges but she has a heart of gold. She can put down an injured animal or patch one up just as quickly. She isn’t afraid to be who she is in any company and doesn’t need to be the center of attention.
If you happen to meet one of these amazing women out there in your travels make sure you note the occurrence for you may only meet a few in your life.