Word from the Range
By Lyn Messersmith
I’ve always had one foot in Wyoming. Some of my uncles settled there and now my daughter and her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids live at Cody, a place where I’ve spent a lot of time, over the years and learned to love.
The great grandkids have been begging us to come visit, and last week we thought we had a weather window. Plan A was to leave Alliance by ten am on Thursday. You know what happens to Plan A, don’t you?
I let one of the dogs out at six. She came back perfumed and it took a while to make her fit company for the boarding place. Bruce went out for chores and found a skunk in the live trap. When he returned from taking care of that matter, I said, “You can’t wear those clothes!” Plan B went into effect, and we hit Cody at sundown, which is about the norm for us.
My daughter took Friday off work, and my granddaughter met us for breakfast after putting kids on the school bus. A call from her husband had her scurrying to saddle up, meet him on the mountain, and bring his slicker. Later, we picked the youngsters up at their country school and got to meet their teacher and bus driver. It’s pretty close to the east entrance to Yellowstone so we drove up the canyon a bit while the kids pointed out each bus stop where classmates live. Saw bald eagles, big horn sheep, deer and bison, and got educated. I remarked on a whole flock of deer, and the six year old corrected me. “No, Grandma, that’s a herd.”
“Sorry, Cinch, you’re right. Hey, that’s one huge rock; looks like it could fall any minute.”
“Grandma, that’s a boulder.”
“You’re right again. Thanks for letting me know. Words are pretty important aren’t they?”
My granddaughter wanted us to come to headquarters and meet the “ranch family.” The crew was just back from bringing the cattle in close. We had been invited to branding the next day, but I asked the manager again if he was sure we wouldn’t be a distraction. Branding is tough, dirty work, and the last thing a rancher wants is to worry about visitors who might be in the way or get hurt. But everyone was cordial, and welcoming. You know you’re in real cowboy country when every man you’re introduced to tips his hat.
Unsaddling was in progress, and it’s serious business on that ranch. Everyone picked up their horse’s feet and checked for rocks. Currycombs were put to work; no sore backs in that remuda. We got a tour of the tack room and vet shack. You can tell a lot about an outfit by the tack room, and this one was immaculate. The men and women worked easily together and took time to answer our questions. And yes, it’s equal opportunity employment—the wives, and even a single gal who hails from New York State are all good hands. Some specialize. The manager’s wife runs the swather—her deal; nobody interferes unless help is requested. My grandson-in-law handles the workhorses, does all the horseshoeing, and guides hunters in the fall.
It was fun to watch how branding goes in the high country. Not a lot different than here, except nobody’s in a hurry, everyone gets to rope, and even the little kids are assigned a mentor and given a bucket or marking stick.
We left after church and Sunday dinner, and went to Shoshoni for an overnight with good friends. Made it home ahead of the snow on Monday, already figuring when we can get away to go back. I still have one foot in Wyoming, probably always will.