Here at the Spanish ranch, the cowboys are still out on the spring wagon. Hey, it’s northern Nevada – spring lasts until sometime in July, followed by two days of summer, then the fall works commence. Since our guys are camped out on the desert living the good life with no TV, Internet, running water or pretty women, Tori and I decided to remedy that last shortcoming and visit them.
We packed up our kids and camping gear and drove out to their camp at Dry Creek, about 70 miles and a 2 1/2-hour drive from our houses. They didn’t brand any calves while we were out there, but instead moved cows and scattered bulls.
Instead of burning hair, we had fun bumming around camp and bringing lunch to the cowboys.
“Bumming around camp” sounds more relaxing than it was. Between the two of us, we have four kids – three in diapers – and collectively they heed orders like a red-headed stepchild. My baby has just learned to crawl, so naturally he wanted to try out his new skills at every opportunity. But, every time I set him down on a nice clean blanket he sprinted off it on all fours to look for stinging nettles and rocks to put in his mouth. I tried letting him crawl around the bedroll in my husband’s tipi, but he bee-lined for the propane heater or the door to explore the rye grass and find a tick to freak his mom out with.
So, I carried Milo most of the time. Because dry camping with no shade is so much more fun with twenty pounds strapped to your upper body. I tried to help Tori with the cooking and camp tending, but eventually diverted my efforts to just wrangling the kids. I couldn’t do much meat chopping or french fry frying with Milo attached to my torso and kicking the salt shaker while trying to grab a knife, so I decided to take the kids on a nature walk to look for wild animals. We saw three wild horses (or, maybe the same domestic horse three times), a wild dog (or, maybe a pet dog named Bill), two grasshoppers, a cricket (or, maybe another grasshopper), and some orange wildflowers. We then planned a sneak attack on an Indian camp (or, maybe the cowboys’ tipis) then changed our mind when I remembered there was a big ditch to cross and that snakes liked to live in tall grass such as the kind surrounding the tipis. So, we went back to camp and drank Capri Sun juice pouches.
I felt like a counselor at a low-budget summer camp. My motto was “Put your hat back on and get out of the cook wagon!”
Three kids, three hats, and everyone is out of the cook wagon. Camp Counselor Mrs. Young III for the win!
This is how Milo spent about an hour each morning: passed out in a back pack. He had the best nap of his life with the wind blowing through his strawberry blond peach-fuzz hair.
And then we put him in a bucket of water in the open air, and he had the best bath of his life.
I think he’ll make a cowboy. Or at least a hippie.
It’s pretty neat that the Span still pulls a wagon out each spring to brand calves. The “wagon” is actually a renovated Army truck equipped with a long table, benches, four-burner stove and a propane refrigerator. The cowboys pitch their canvas tipis near the wagon, and a rope corral is set up across the way. Each evening, the cavvy is wrangled into the ropes, and the cowboss ropes out each cowboy’s chosen mount for the next day. Those horses are put into a night lot, and the rest of the cavvy is turned back out into the wrangle pasture.
Here, Sam Marvel stands in the ropes with the cavvy lined up and contemplates which horse he wants to catch. Or maybe he’s thinking about whether he wants fry sauce or ketchup with his cheeseburger.
We’ll never know.
I missed out on the first wave of branding because I stayed home to make my deadline for the Nevada Rancher, but hopefully I’ll get to catch some of the branding next month.I definitely had a good time on my first wagon experience, though. Spending time with my husband and our two kids is always a blessing. I know Grace had a lot of fun “sleeping outside with Dad” as she calls camping.
Here are those two by Jim’s tipi.
I’ll be back next time with branding pictures! Until then, take care and enjoy summer. Especially if you get more than two days of it.