Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
I was down the Billings ranch for a few days to help with their fall gather. It sure was nice being back in the saddle again and the work, the weather and the company made it all a pleasure. The Billings run Angus cattle on a large spread southwest of Silver City and this year the rains have put a lot grass on it. The knee-high grass has gone to seed and turned yellow; the bunches of fat cattle we put together sure liked pretty out there in it. Here’s their palomino Trigger and myself taking a breather.
I like the horse—he listens and likes to work. We covered a lot of ground together as did the other 6 or 7 cowboys I worked with each day. The largest pasture (they call it Hogback Ridge) was 10 hilly sections so horses and cattle disappeared quickly. We combed the hills and put the cattle together at several water tanks finally bringing them all together where they pairs could be sorted for either shipping or weaning depending on size. Here’s a shot of Jason on a beautiful gray holding a herd during the sorting.
I got to work with some guys I have worked with before and met some new ones. I’ve liked every cowboy I’ve ever met down here and they have all been great to work with. Quiet, modest, hard working and skilled. They are part of ranch work I know I will miss the most when I hang up my spurs. In my mind he is out there loping across a ridgeline and then disappearing into a sea of yellow grass. He is following a herd of Angus cattle up a wide sandy draw. He is sitting a dappled gray horse quietly doing his job while mountains hold up the sky behind him. He’s eating lunch beside a horse trailer swapping stories about rain, rattlesnakes and horses. He’s flanking calves in a dusty corral with manure on his jeans and a smile on his face. He’s a kid, eager to take his place in the company of men and proud to be a part of something exciting and romantic. Here is Justin Billings riding out with the men.
I have decorated my office and as much of the house as my wife can stand with cowboy décor: tack, paintings and a collection of hats and what-not that I like. Reminders of places and times where I have been happy; where I have been part of an old equation: grass, water, cattle, horses and good men. The decorations compliment the pictures I keep in my head and will try to share with you time to time. Let’s stay in touch.