Country Gal by Vanita Blundell Oct. 3, 2007
Fall is in the air, I do believe. The air is getting crisp-fall means many things to different people. To some it is the football season, some people just feel better as the cooler weather starts to some it is the fear that the snow is just that much closer that they are going to have to work in. For me it is a mixture of feelings-but the best thing about fall I that loved growing up was ‘fall round-up’. I liked the ‘fall round-up’ more than the ‘spring round-up’ because in the spring we had to work the calves and pair them back up with their mothers. Fall round-up you gathered all of the cattle from every nook and cranny- every little gully and out of the brush- every cow, calf and bull must be brought in.
I can remember my first and only pair of chaps- it was getting close fall and we were at the Coldwater Sale Barn and a man was there selling tack and other assortments that a cowboy might need. I had never even thought that I would ever get a pair of chaps - but Dad thought it was time - maybe he thought that I might not get much taller and this pair would last me for many years to come. I was so excited to get them I could not to wear them. Dad knew that we would be going to Stewart Carthraes and that the chaps would be beneficial for me.
Stewart and Marion lived near Aetna and Dad had helped them gathered cattle for many years. The Friday night before we were to go, as usual, I could hardly sleep, but knew that I had better since we had to get up in the wee hours to make it to Carthraes by sunrise. I think it must have taken up at least 30 to 45 minutes to get there, if the roads were not muddy. Sometimes we would stop and pick-up Short Goebel- Short was fun to ride with, he was almost as ornery as Dad. We would get to our appointed spot and unload our horses. The only worry I had was getting lost. Dad would give me a landmark to follow and told me to listen for the truck horn that would be honking to help lure the cows in- My landmark was Carthraes TV antenna. It was very tall and you could see it from almost everywhere on the ranch. Dad would tell me to ‘push’ the cows toward the antenna and the sound of the horn and I would find everyone else, eventually. Dad would go one way- Short would go another and I would go somewhere in-between. Gathering cattle for the Stewart was more of a challenged as he had brush that went up and down the river. That to make things even for exciting was the fact that there was quick sand in the river, as well. In the fall, the brush was filled with heavy dew in the early morning hours and when you would disturb it you would get soaked to the skin. So I thought since I had my new chaps I would hardly even notice the heavy dew- but that was not entirely true- my chaps were leather, of course, but they had the rough out and not smooth like Dads. Because the rough was out I think that the leather just absorbed the water, instead of shedding it. It was still better than not having them as they protected my legs from the thorns and sharp limbs. Since I had the shorter horse Dad would send me in under the brush and trees to get the stubborn cows out. Some of the cows would let you ride right over the top of them and not budge hoping that you would not see them. Once a cow gets in the brush and likes it there it is very difficult to get them out. Stewart tried many different ways to get the cows out of the brush, but that is another story entirely.
I was sad to hear that Marion passed away last week. I know her daughters and family are going to miss her terribly. But as we all know, we do not live forever and she has gone to a better place- For me- if heaven is no more than a beautiful valley with a ridge. The mornings are clear and still, the air is crisp - you can sit on top of a rim rock on your favorite, faithful pony. You look down and see the morning fog rise up out of the river bottoms and the cattle are grazing unconcerned, you watch as the deer come out of the river brush, - you can hear nothing but nature waking up to face the day and the occasional calf cry for his mother and your horse is relaxed watching to sunrise with you- what more could you possibly want?