Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
I was down at the Billings’ ranch in southern Grant County to help gather and brand a few head and we had all but one of the few cows and calves separated into two corrals. One cow was determined to stay with the calves so we left her with them. (Often the presence of a momma cow or two has a calming effect on the little ones). We were planning our next move when my host and ranch owner, Wayne, noticed that the stubborn Angus cow was giving the evil eye to one of his boys we had with us. He told the boy to get out which he did. It was decided to go ahead and move the cow out of there, but now our horses were out of the corral, so we tried to move her out on foot. She was supposed to see the open gate and I let her look for it while giving her some space. I misjudged how much space she wanted and when she charged, I made a beeline for the nearest fence. You’ll have to ask Wayne how close she got because I was totally focused on the top rail of the corral.
Cowboys have an expression for these cows, they say, “be careful she’ll want to blow snot in your pocket!” I don’t think I got a pocket full, but I did get a few splinters from the corral board which I never even came close to clearing. Weighed down with chaps, boots, spurs and 55 year old legs of course didn’t help. All’s well that ends well, I guess, and we cut her out on horseback. I’ll bet Wayne still smiles when he thinks about the old guy trying to clear the corral.
This was a particularly good day; including a chance to visit the old ranch house at Cow Springs which still has one of the old Butterfield Stage stop buildings on the place. This part of New Mexico is just full of history and stories about the past are not hard to find. Working down there makes me feel like I’m part of a continuing story that includes Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, homesteaders, outlaws, pioneering ranchers and ranch families like the Billings. My part is inconsequential, but the story is one in which I’m proud to be a part.
Here are a few photos that tell a small part of my story. That’s me in the blue shirt helping in the branding pen; there’s also a photo of Grandpa Jerry and young Justin who both helped one day, and then just me on Brownie at the end of the day. Wayne’s wife, Lucinda, took the shots in the pen and Wayne did me the favor of taking my picture on his horse. Why am I on his horse? That’s a different story; I’ll just say, “Thanks for the ride, Wayne.”