Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
A stroke of luck and an empty calendar gave me a chance to help a buddy move his cattle from his winter lease ground to the summer grazing lease he has in the Pecos Wilderness. I missed the gathering, but arrived in time to help with sorting. About 50 cow-calf pairs were selected for shipping to their summer mountain home. The day was hot, the corrals were dusty, and the excellent corrals we borrowed sure helped. Every gate latch worked and was built the same—you don’t always find that.
We all camped together at my friend’s lease headquarters and ate supper as the moon rose. I hadn’t seen some of these guys in a while and seeing them again was really good. Our camp was near a windmill and I got some photos as the sun was setting.
The cattle were loaded the next morning and the trucks started pulling into Jack’s Creek Campground around 1:30 that afternoon. The first cow off the trailer caught one hoof in a space between floorboards as she was leaping off and we scrambled to help her. One guy crawled under the trailer and pushed up on the foot while others tried to pry the boards apart or held her head up. A bit of pushing and prying and the foot was free and the cow seemed fine. The rest of the cows unloaded without incident. We commended the guy who crawled under the trailer and he said, “I’m just glad I didn’t get a golden shower while I was under there!”
We gave the cows and calves time to find each while we set up camp. Eventually, a few of us turned the cows out and trailed them for a few miles up the mountain. I was on a borrowed paint that had not been in the mountains before. His anxiety became my anxiety as we ascended the rain-slicked trail strewn with rocks and bordered by trees and steep drop offs. One of my buddies showed me where he and a horse had gone over a drop off in a previous trip. So, my trip up wasn’t very relaxing and I was glad the horse never actually threw a fit. I could tell he was thinking about it.
There are remedies for stress and anxiety: I found relief in our well-stocked coolers and in the scenery that separated our camp from the rest of the world. I found it in a small group of friends gathered around a cheerful fire swapping stories and creating new ones. You can’t run away from your problems, but you can make it hard for them to keep up. Up in the mountains, I re-learned something: troubles don’t like campfires circled by friends. Like wild animals in the night, troubles stay away. It’s an old, old trick that works every time.