Mike Moutoux, New Mexico's Enchanting Cowboy


Mike Moutoux

New Mexico's
Enchanting Cowboy

Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
May 2009

We’ve started branding at the ranch, mixing that in with other chores. One memorable day included three close encounters that give you a glimpse at this cowboy’s workday.

The first involved an over-protective cow that we had in a corral so we could brand her calf. She took a run at me and I found myself vaulting over the top of the corral with the athleticism of a much younger man. Jerry even commented on my agility. The ability to clear fences in a single bound is relative when a 700-pound cow is intent on running you over.

The next close encounter was with a rattlesnake coiled up in the pile of logs I was splitting for Jerry. I had made several trips into the pile already when I noticed the 3-footer lying there. I now have his rattle in my collection. I’m supposed to making earrings for Emily with them, but so far they are just sitting on a shelf. The snake never rattled or gave any indication that he was aware of me, but sure could have nailed me if he wanted to.

The close encounter of the third kind involved a calf that Jerry wanted to brand that had wandered into the barnyard. Deciding to use the nearby squeeze chute for the job, Jerry ordered me into the back of the chute and told me to run my knee up between the calf’s legs so it wouldn’t sit down while he did the rest of the job. The calf let fly with a load of green goo with my knee catching the entire load. Jerry must have felt a little guilty because he called Emily with instructions for getting the stain out while I was on my way home. “Use cold water,” he said. Works on blood stains too! I learn all sorts of interesting things down there.

Ranch Notes cactus in bloom

These close encounters aren’t going to be made into a movie, but they sure make the hours go by quickly. And though the hours may pass quickly, the moments linger in my mind for quite a while. Wow, that might make a good line for a poem….

It’s been dry, but a few things are growing on last year’s rain they have stored up. Beargrass flower stalks are pushing up through their mounds of leaves, as are a few yuccas, which will all bloom very soon. Some of the best blooms so far belong to the hedgehog cacti, which are almost invisible underfoot except when they are flowering. Then they are hard not to notice. Here’s a photo I got off my horse to shoot.





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