Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
I got an invitation to help with a branding at neighboring ranch owned by the Billings family. The ranch, established in 1884, has changed size over the years and now covers 126 sections (over 80,000 acres). My horse for the day was a handsome Palomino named, of all things, Trigger. He was a perfect ranch horse, a good listener, and liked the work. The entire morning he seemed to keep one ear twisted toward me and the other ear toward the cows. I could tell right away that he knew what he was doing and in few hours, six cowboys had the pasture gathered and in the corrals. Wayne Billings, a sixth generation rancher and his father, Billy, directed the work. Also working was their hired hand, Polo, and two brothers, Glen and Justin Billings. Glen inspired one of my songs after I met him over a year ago. I haven’t seen him since and hope to play the song for him next time we meet.
It was long, dusty, day but things went pretty smooth. I think most folks would be amazed at how quickly a branding crew works. Everyone has a specific job and with two ropers working at the same time, the calves kept coming at a pretty fast pace. We branded 140 that afternoon. It was such a pleasure to watch good ropers doing their job; the quiet way they moved among the calves, the almost casual way they flipped out a loop and BINGO, here they came with their catch in tow. In less than a minute the ground crew was finished with their jobs and the calf was up and on its way. It’s also a pleasure to be in the company of good men all working to get a job done. There just is no finer bunch of people on earth than cowboys.
Wayne’s wife, Lucinda, brought us a hot lunch and took a bunch of photos. Drop me a note and I’ll pass along her easy recipe for a campfire foil-wrapped lunch. Simple and delicious.
I’ve included some photos of Trigger, Wayne looking over the herd of calves and Justin roping. The roping shot gives you a good idea how dusty things were. It took me a half hour to get the dust off when I got home.