The holiday season has come and gone and I can safely say that winter, in its full attire, has arrived.
Let me get you caught up on what’s been happening out here.
Dan and Jill and Erney are deep in the process of taking up permanent residence here at the Cheyenne River Ranch. Needless to say “hectic” right now is normal. Jill’s daughter, Jilian, a senior at New Underwood High School is, along with being an honor roll student, an excellent point guard for the NUHS girls’ basketball team. (Never mind that in the last game she got her nose broken scrapping for a loose ball.) We all support her and go to as many games, both home and away, as we can get to. Jill commutes frequently to the Broken Heart and to the office in Spearfish to keep the administrative parts of Wild Idea Buffalo running smoothly. She also stays busy in her kitchen – which, believe me, is as busy as ever. Dan is presently away from the ranch. He has taken a visiting professor position for the winter quarter at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. He’s teaching a course in Environmental Science and also conducting an upper level course in Creative Writing.
Any relocation from one ranch to another is never simply a move from one house to another. In our case it entails building some additional living quarters: For Erney, for me, for the dogs and hawks. And that is where we are at present – trying to get Erney’s place ready for him to move in. (By the time you read this, if he is not moved in, something is drastically askew.) Winter on the Great Plains does not help with constructing dwellings. Everything takes longer and costs more than you think – remember we are 40-45 miles from the nearest lumberyard. It really hurts to have forgotten something, or miscalculated the materials, or to have run out of or broken something, or made a mistake of some kind. In comparison – fencing is easy.
As for me, if I am not working alone on some task, I am helping wherever I am most needed. A very few buffalo chores are a given as are all the regular things: checking on the horses, removing snow-when necessary, exercising the dogs and building the new living quarters. You know? There was a time when winter on the ranch was a time of slow down a little, do chores, and read a book. But now – in the words of a popular CW song: “I know what I’m feeling, but what was I thinking?”
And thus daily life at the Cheyenne River Ranch moves on apace. We are busy. On the coldest days we can usually stay inside or at least get warm. We still have beautiful scenery, sunrises and sunsets – even nicer since winter has donned its white dinner jacket and black tie. It invites us to partake.