Now we move into Spring. Both the Ides of March and the Vernal Equinox have passed. Dawn comes a little earlier each morning; the sun eases itself little by little northward in the eastern sunrise sky. The prairie winds blow and whistle and sometimes howl. But if you are going to live in the prairie, you will live with the winds.
Here at the ranch headquarters we live about half way down the bluff that drops toward the Cheyenne River. We face the river valley, which generally lies to the southeast of us. This location gives us a southern exposure for the winter sun, a great view of the river valley with a couple of main tributaries that help to feed the river, and a very welcome shelter from hard-charging, northwest winds of winter. So with our backs to the wind and our faces toward the sun, we guesstimate what the day will hold for us and try to plan our activities accordingly.
Regular chores come first. That is neither too difficult nor time consuming. But the move from the Broken Heart to here necessitates an expansion of chores and requirements. We now have completed building the dog kennels; the hawk muse is being built, as is the pigeon coop. We are still remodeling parts of the house and are finishing Erney’s and my apartments. We may never be done, which is kind of tough to think about sometimes when you know the ranch motto is, “Finishing is everything!” So we ultimately finish everything we start and often have to finish that which others start.
For example, dogs and horses never leave anything alone. I have watched the dogs bring in old bones from the pasture and deposit them everywhere. It doesn’t matter that someone else will pick them up and dispose of them. I have seen the horses surround the bed of my pickup and empty it of tools (hay hooks, hammer, pliers, fencing pliers, bags of wire clips, etc)-anything they can pick up they will; anything they can knock over will be on the ground. I haven’t yet been successful in my attempts to have them straighten things out and put them back where they belong.
The wind is a lot like the dogs and horses. It too never leaves anything alone. It takes panels of the windbreaks, roofing tin off the barn; it brings trash from miles away to deposit somewhere along a fence line or along the driveway. The wind breaks limbs that fall across the fences, blows our hats into the river, dust into our eyes and nose; it cuts like a knife in winter and makes the cottonwood trees almost sing in the summer; but most of all it never ends; and so it always presents us something else to do.
On occasion we stand back a little ways at the end of a finishing day-when the last nail is driven, the last wire stretched and fastened into place, the last buffalo through the gate and into the proper pasture-and take a little pride in a job well-finished, while all the time knowing that when we turn around, the wind will once again be in our face.