As you’ve noticed I kinda fell off the wagon for posting regularly. I have a good excuse I promise! With the start of spring you can’t help but notice how the landscape begins taking on a greenish hue and the buds on the trees swell with the new leaves within-wow that was poetic-even for me! But while glancing across the changing landscape a faint bawl echoes through the air as a new born calf says hello to the world.
All across the west men and women are witnessing the blessings of nature and it has kept us all busy! This calving season has gone
very well for us here on the Cheyenne-and though I speak only for my family I can’t help but feel the same is true for many others. Considering the devastation of the infamous October blizzard which left a nasty scar on western South Dakota, each calf born is another step towards recovery for many.
A portion of our excitement has arrived in the form of three sets of twins. I know some have probably had more and three is nothing, but for us three sets is something of a record. Now, as much as a blessing it is to get two for one it becomes difficult for some cows to care for both twins. Thus enters the nanny…or at least it would if we had a goat…but for now the nanny is myself. Yup, I’m a formula-mixing, bottle-feeding nurse maid to two twins. Now I usually don’t do the whole naming thing, but as these twins could be my responsibility for a while it seemed only fitting to call them something besides Calf 1 and Calf 2! So I now call them Oscar and Mollie and what a hand-full they are. They aren’t very big but by golly when its time to eat I brace myself for impact!
Now Mollie is younger than Oscar by about four days but Oscar is 4 inches smaller in dimension. Mollie inhales her bottle spilling milk and drooling bubbles like crazy while Oscar, being the little gentlecalf he is, savors every drop and rarely spills. Who said girls were better mannered than boys?!
But besides these two hooligans, the pasture is filling up with little jaspers! We received and inch and ten in rain here this week which has proved a blessing and everything is green and growing strong! Weather forecasts predict a slightly wetter summer than last year and honestly last year was a pretty good year so here’s hoping!
I’ll keep ya’ll updated on the progress of Oscar and Mollie in the future. I hope everyone gets lots of moisture and for those of you down in Florida and the south, please send some of your moisture this way. P.S.-please don’t mail water as envelopes leak!
The horse. What can I say about the horse that one doesn’t already know. They’re capable of grace, agility, strength, compassion, and sometimes stubbornness! The last has a tendency to describe my guys Diesel and Dandy… some of the time!
Diesel and Dandy are black Percheron-Quarter horse cross geldings. Diesel is 13 and Dandy is 12. Now these two guys have had quite a life. They’re original owners didn’t care for them all that much, I won’t go into details because that’s not what this story is about. A friend of my grandpa, Myron was his name, acquired them because the owner said they weren’t worth it. In speaking one day Myron mentioned he had this team of horses that needed some work as their feet were really disfigured, it’s known as founder. Lavon said we’d take them and brought them here in summer 2005.
At first glance their future didn’t look all that bright but we’d do our best. Their feet were specially trimmed and we all worked with them frequently to get them back into shape. That summer we drove them in the Wasta and Wall parades and of course it was their first Artist Ride. I don’t know what it was but there was something unique about Diesel and Dandy. They may have acted up now and again, but they had spirit and character that even to this day amazes me.
In the spring of the following year it was decided to sell them, this wasn’t my decision, but I had little say in the matter. I remember watching them disappear down the road, knowing I’d never see them again. But, that was life and as much as I hated to I had to accept it. Several days passed and life went on as usual on the river. One day I spotted the pickup and trailer coming down the road and I have to admit I had a hollow stomach because I knew that trailer was empty. The trailer pulled into the yard and stopped before the barn and when the engine shut off I could hear horses stomping in the back. The door was opened and Diesel and Dandy stepped out. I was so excited and when I asked why they’d been brought back the answer was that no one wanted them. Well it was someone elses’ loss for I wanted them!
The three of us have been through a lot together, both good and bad. We’ve carried deceased loved ones to their final resting places, helped happy couples celebrate their marriage, showed off in the parades and just had fun. Well…there was that one time they decided they’d had enough Artist Ride and headed to the barn as fast as they could-that was fun!! But that’s a story for another day.
Diesel and Dandy are a part of our family, as is any horse to any horse owner. I know our lives have been made all the more exciting because of their spirit and character. Diesel is a “work” horse who will pull anything you hitch him to while Dandy isn’t quite as ambitious but he’s a card just the same! They’ve been through a lot more than some and though they are getting older they don’t show any inclination of slowing down. To my guys who have taken us through a lot and to those who love and respect their horses and everything they do to help us keep the legacy of the west alive!
I was trying to figure out what I was going to write about today while I was doing chores. This winter has been relentless, not so much as in Wis consin and the Northeast, but it is nevertheless beginning to get old. As much as we hate to admit it we do need the winter and we do need the snow but this years freezing temperatures have herded most folks indoors and has caused no shortage of cabin fever.
When I thought of the term “cabin fever” I remembered this book I read years ago about a frontier family being snowed in for nearly a week and how slowly everyone began to go mad. Then I remembered the cabin we had built last summer for the Artist Ride. It’s small, probably 10×12, the same size as the one in the book so I can only imagine how one would go crazy!
I wanted to share a little bit about our little cabin by the river. Cute little thing it is. Built entirely of cottonwood logs, it was quite a process, but well worth it. We started with the idea that it was going to be put together rough, whatever logs we could find that were long enough we’d use. After all, beggars can’t be choosers!
So, on a spring day in March my uncle and cousins and some friends cut down a few cottonwoods for the “foundation.” We used a set of construction I-beams as a template for dimensions and a way to move it once we had it finished. Chainsaws buzzing, sawdust flying, we notched the logs to fit together like Lincoln Logs. The notches were perfect, only….they were on the bottom instead of the top…oops! Aw well, we’ll just roll ’em. About five of us grabbed the log and gave a mighty shove… nothing…again, with gusto!….nothing! So… we might have underestimated the weight of our logs a bit! Enter the backhoe, thank the Lord for the backhoe!
Several hours pass while we determine which end goes where. You see you have to alternate small logs with big logs otherwise one wall rises faster than another and it looks like a Frank Lloyd Wright experiment. After several hours of chainsawing and more sawdust and with some help from the backhoe we had the foundation. It was maybe a foot and a half tall….hmmm…we’re going to need more logs, quite a few more. Find out the conclusion in Cabin Fever pt. 2!
“In this painting, the cowboy is crossing the Cheyenne River in South Dakota with his string of three newly acquired horses. He is on his way home. The low, evening light creates alluring values, colors, and shapes. I enjoy watching and painting the movement of animals in water. A rear view seems unexpected and, in some ways, more interesting. The spacing and relationship of the animals created an appealing composition.”
What is the one thing that really stands out about a “western” painting. Everything else aside, just picture a man standing along the ridge looking down into the valley below. What is it about the man that says to you it’s a western painting. Of course, his clothing.
Clothing is probably one of the most obvious and defining characteristics when it comes to period recreation. Not only does it describe the person but it reflects the profession, culture, region, and social status as well.
Here at Artist Ride, I feel that the participating models have an amazing collection of wardrobe. Many models have spent a great deal of time studying particular historic characters and the materials, patterns, beads, etc, that goes into defining a person from 1800-1900.
And much like it was 100 years ago, you don’t just go to the store and pick out what you want. Material perhaps, but a ready-made coat or vest from 1879, probably not. In many cases if you want it you have to make. I’ve always admired the fact that the settlers and Indians made their own clothing or had it made to fit them.
I recently ventured into this area and attempted a bit of tailoring myself. I wanted a coat that fit me the way I wanted it to. So, I picked out the pattern that I liked and got some cotton and wool material. Now I’ve never so much as sewn a button on coat let alone built one so I wasn’t holding my breath when I began.
I soon found that running the old Singer wasn’t too bad although those needles are not very forgiving let me tell you. A few stiches here a few stiches there and slowly but surely I started to see the outline of my coat. When I got to the point where I could try it on one sleeve was an inch lower than the other and the middle of the coat didn’t match up. When I looked in the mirror it was like looking at a Picasso with strange angles and uneven edges needless to say it was back to the Singer.
Now in the fourth week I’m nearly done with my coat, just have a few buttons to put on. Through this experience I’ve gained a lot of respect for those who made their own clothing and those that do today. It’s not easy, but it is gratifying and it has helped me see a different side of what it takes to personify the past!