It was a pretty sunrise while the guys were getting ready for preg check. I got my papers in order and headed down to the cows. We had a successful check and had a great lunch before heading them up into the hills.
We got them through the first gate and up the main road. You may recognize this road from the fall scene I called Country Road. Not so colorful this time of year.
Got through the second gate.
There is always one that thinks she needs to go on her own. She’s a non-conformist.
Again she separates from the herd.
But Patrick can always show them the way.
Patrick was the gate getter.
If you keep them spread out a little and stay at a steady pace, they tend to travel better rather than keeping them bunched up and moving fast.
Sometimes the sound of a swinging rope will straighten the girls up and keep them moving.
We were heading straight west into the hills and into the sun.
I had to shade my eyes just to see the road.
It’s quite the climb up into these hills and we’re prefer they stay on the road. But as always, a few tend to go their own way.
Patrick and I took a group into what we call the rock pasture (this whole place is rocky, not sure why this one is so special) and down into the canyon to water. The other cowboys took a group to the river.
We went back and checked on them the next day and their bellies were full and they were very content. The ladies will enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday in the hills.
I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. Thanks for hanging out with me here at our home on the range. I am so grateful for each of you.
Yesterday we preg-checked the cows. Poor girls. But we had great success and then wore them out even more by trailing them up into the hills. It was a steep climb at times and they were glad to get to the river.
I played cowgirl yesterday and this weekend is full of photo shoots. I like wearing two different hats. Let’s just hope I don’t get confused and start herding my portrait clients up into the hills or start asking the cows to stand by that tree and smile!
Have a great weekend my friends and keep smiling! xoxo
Our crew from back east took charge a couple of weeks ago and branded the last batch of calves.
They led the mothers and calves out of the calving pasture,
over the hill,
along the fence line,
and into the branding pen.
They sorted the mothers from the calves and led them out of the corral.
Reagan and Marley were great spectators.
These guys were also in the audience. They snorted and stared and were as grumpy as ever.
And then the roping began.
Tommy and Hillbilly worked hard and did a great job of bringing the calves in so they could be vaccinated and branded quickly.
Once they were down, the ground crew swooped in and had them up and at’em in no time.
A couple of days later, the cowboys and cowgirls led the herd up the hill so they could wait for the trucks to take them to the Laramie Plains
One little one tried to get away but Patrick and Jack guided him to the rest of the herd.
They went right in to the corral, with the encouragement from those on horseback, and waited.
On the last day of their visit, Marley’s mom and sister went shopping so we decided to have a photo shoot.
Marley was a fantastic model and we had a blast taking her “cowgirl portraits”.
We dodged a few raindrops and had moslty cloudy skies. But the sun popped out every now and then and we were dolloped with some lovely light.
All in all it was a great visit and even though we put them to work, I hope they enjoyed it!
We woke up at 3:30 am and left the ranch at 4:30 in the a.m. We arrived at the Laramie Plains by 6 and made our way into the pasture where the cows were waiting.
The cowboys saddled up and waited for it to get a little lighter.
There were plenty of riders so I decided to stay with the trucks at the corral to watch the sun rise and wait for them to bring in the cattle.
And what a beautiful sunrise it was.
Not long after, the cattle started my way. I heard the moos way before I saw them.
All paired up, still with milk on their lips, the babies followed momma toward the paneled corral.
The cowboys and cowgirl got them in the panels and then discussed the game plan.
They checked the panels to make sure nobody was bustin’ out.
And the cattle waited impatiently for their instructions.
Step one is to sort out the momma cows. Step two is to separate the steers from the heifers and count each group. And step three is to load them on separate trucks.
This little booger got away and gave the cowboys a run for their money. They had to rope her and lead her back to the corrals.
The calves looked good, were big enough to wean and were trucked to their new homes.
We brought a few of the smaller calves home and for the last few nights, I’ve gone to sleep listening to them bawl for momma. It takes about a week for everyone to get over the separation anxiety. The momma cows are still up on the Plains and they spent several days by the panels waiting for their babies to come back. Yesterday was the first day I noticed the calves are calm and are finally comfortable in their new surroundings and their strict diet of hay and water.
You can see more pictures of this day by clicking any picture above or going straight to the gallery on my website here: http://www.leahyetter.com/111005shipping/ .
The cows will be trailed home later this week and then we check them for babies in the belly. Stay tuned for that beautiful experience. Just kidding. I’ll probably put the camera down and just take inventory.
Trailing at sunrise…again. It was a breezy beautiful Thursday morning.
During the fire on Squaw Mountain, Patrick and I, with a little help from a wonderful neighbor and friend, got our cattle out of the meadows on Squaw to the safety of the meadows closer to home.
Now it’s time to truck them to the Laramie Plains to join the rest of the cattle and graze for a couple of months until the calves are shipped to their new owners. These girls have done a lot of re-locating in the past 2 weeks.
The rising sun gave to beautiful silhouettes of Mark and Phil as they crossed the bridge guiding the cattle up the hill.
Once we got closer to the corral, Mark stood guard to make sure the ladies didn’t turn and go the wrong way. They needed to aim for the open gate at the sunburst.
Phil made sure they didn’t run down the fence line. And I… took pictures.
Once we arrived at the plains and loaded the cattle in the corral, we gave them time to mother up and then Mark and Phil led them over the hill to water.
It’s a long drive to the Plains from the ranch and we passed some smoking mountains. Yep, you guessed it. Earlier this week the volunteers were fighting a fire on a section of the plains. Lightning once again created a lot of smoke and flames. I didn’t go to this one so I don’t have much info. Patrick spent a full night and day at the fire until the feds arrived. This thing burned up Pole Mountain and got 50 yards from a ranchers home. Patrick is so ready for snow. I am too, but I’m just not ready for the hurricane winds that comes with it.
We stopped by the South Ranch for the guys to do, well, guy things. Count hay bales, take inventory of machinery, move horses, etc. I did my thing, which as you know, my thang is to find photographs.
This field is covered in Sowthistle. They look like dandelions but they aren’t. They are really sticky and when horses eat them, their mouths are covered in their sticky yellow juice.
Patrick says it’s Rosinweed but it doesn’t look that to me when I look in my Weeds of the West book.
Anyway, the bees like them.
Finally, we got home as the sun was going down. I drove the atv to the house and against the purple sky, I saw a group of bucks roaming the hilltops.
It was a good day and we got a lot done. Now, for a restful weekend…I hope.
Yours till the cow moooooos,
We are going to pick up where I left off from Today,at Daybreak.
We started a little before the sun appeared.
The colt we are calling Crazy Alice (name that movie) ran the fence as the cowboys rode down the drive to the pasture. She wanted to go but being true to her name, we’re not putting a saddle on her just yet.
Patrick and Wayne laughed and told stories almost the whole trail. They had some catching up to do.
Good morning Squaw Mountain, we are headed your way!
It took some convincing but Patrick was finally able to get these calves down the hill to mama.
They mothered up quickly and easily so trailing them was uneventful.
Occasionally they would disappear in the dust and dirt of the sheet grass.
Once we got through the canyon of sheet grass, I turned back to see Wayne checking to make sure we didn’t leave any behind. I was so happy to see these clouds and his silhouette. During the trailing, the sky was cloudy and then blue. The sun would appear and then disappear behind clouds. The lighting was diverse all morning. That’s why the exposures here look like they were shot on different days. But they were actually taken over a 5 or 6 hour period.
The cows were happy to get to this pasture. The sun is high, grass is tall and the water is running. This will be their home for the next couple of months.
I have prepared several images of our gather at sunrise but when I got to this one, I felt it should have an entry all to itself.
This morning the air was crisp and cool. The gather went smoothly and the cattle drive flowed seamlessly. Everything fell right into place, especially this photograph. I’ll share the other shots with you tomorrow.
I am craving a print of this right now.
The branding was set for Saturday, then cancelled, and then back on leaving it solely up to the rain clouds above. So we woke up at 5am, loaded the horses, and away we went wondering what mother nature had in store for us.
After a couple of sprinkles of rain on the way to the South Ranch, we arrived a little damp but the guys and gals mounted their horses and rode out to the pasture anyway to gather the little ones.
The calves ran into the branding pen with no idea what was about to happen. And we still weren’t sure if the sky was going to fall.
The cowboys roped.
The horses and ropers worked like champions, bringing in the calves for booster shots and their brand. Rain clouds hovered over us all day long, a constant breezed carried sprinkles all around us, but we made it through the entire day without a downpour. And to think just 2 days before, it snowed for 6 hours straight.
The branding was a success and we finished it off with a fantastic meal with good company. Patrick and I checked on the calves yesterday and aside from being dazed and confused and a little sore, they all look very well. I’m sure they will be very excited when they are trucked to the Laramie Plains and left alone for the summer.
We’re busy around here. Remember, I often use the term “we” loosely. I do help out, like cradling a newborn that’s too cold and the momma can’t take care of it in the beginning. Mostly though, I stand back with the camera. I’m loving being around these little munchkins but it just means a lot of work for the ranchers.
Once the calves are born and have sucked, they get their ears pierced.
It’s not the prettiest accessory but it serves it’s purpose. It helps to pair them with momma if they get separated.
Some are born fast and feisty. That means you’ve got to chase them through the meadows and grab them up when they hide in the willows. They have to get their ear tag and be inspected by the rancher to check their health.
Sometimes milk bags can’t provide so eventually the Rancher becomes the Mother.
Sunset is a favorite time. That means a couple if not a few hours of sleep before it starts all over again.
But it’s not just the ranchers that are busy around here. While we’re calving, the gobblers are strutting and the hens are watching and waiting for their knight is shining armor. I’ll have those photos for you tomorrow.
This week marks the one year anniversary of starting my new life here in big sky country. What can I say, I met a cowboy, fell in love with him and the land, and decided that my heart needed a change from the recent sadness I was experiencing in my hometown. Losing my mother to cancer 5 years ago left me with a crushed heart and a great deal of sadness. Life was gray and smiles were hard to come by. My photography lacked spunk and creativity as we just went through the motions together. Two years ago this summer, I came out here for an assignment with a great friend and writer, Jessica W. She was way more cowgirl than me and this type of assignment was right up her ally. Me, not so much. I had no clue what being a cowgirl was all about. But when I stepped out onto the dirt drive of the spacious ranch, the crisp, dry air carried the aroma of sage and manure straight to my head and ignited my senses. A smile appeared on my face for the first time in almost 3 years. The wide open spaces filled my eyes and immediately my camera and I became one again. When I met eyes with the ranch manager, I felt my heart actually skip a beat. Something inside me was brewing.
Jessica and I spent only a few days here documenting life on this working cattle ranch. Herding and branding cattle, cooking meals over an open fire pit, riding horseback and my favorite- a four wheeler ride through the Laramie Plains with Patrick. We woke up to ravishing sunrises and relaxed at the end of the day with the calming beauty of the sun setting over the mountains. I didn’t want to leave. And when I was finally home, I wanted to go back. So a month later I did. And then the next month, and the next. I was fortunate enough to sell my home quickly in the historic district of beautiful downtown Macon, Georgia, and on my 32nd birthday, packed it all up and started my journey across the country. My dad, Matilda and I squeezed into the over loaded 2 door civic and drove 3 days to my new home. I had no doubt that this was what I wanted to do. And I could not have pulled this off without the loving support of family and friends. Not to mention the support of the fabulous clients that became friends in my 6 years of being a freelance photographer for Macon and surrounding counties and cities.
Before mom passed away, she told me that if a great opportunity comes up, different than the relationship that I had in my life at that time, don’t pass it up. Grab hold and don’t look back. Embrace change. Embrace life. And don’t ever quit what makes you happy. Time here is too short to wonder “what if”. Even though she isn’t physically here, her words have guided me to where I am now and I know she would be proud.
PS: Patrick is to thank for the title of this blog entry. It’s just one of the many cowboy sayings I’ve learned while out here. This one was a favorite among my girlfriends that sat through the recap of our first adventure in the wild west. It seemed like a fitting title for this entry.
1) When yer stirrups are too short, your knees hurt. When yer stirrups are too long, yer ass hurts. When both yer knees and yer ass hurts, your stirrups are just right.
2) Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.
3) Never miss a good chance to shut up.
4) Always drink upstream from the herd.
5) Don’t squat with yer spurs on.
And my favorite…
6) Don’t drink prune juice when yer thirsty.
Happy Friday everyone! Remember to always speak your mind, but ride a fast horse!
Don’t worry, this one isn’t too sappy.
I have to admit I’m not big on Hallmark holidays but I thought I’d share some lovey-dovey images with you today. It was brought to my attention that the last several posts might have sounded a little like I was buried in some winter misery. It’s not the cold, it’s the wind that creates misery.
But it’s the love that keeps me here.
The love of long walks to the tractor to feed the cows and horses in the springtime.
The warm and fuzzy feeling I get when fawns share a kiss outside of my office window.
And the kindness one cow shows another with a sweet head butt and a quick lick melts my heart every time.
Have a great day my lovely friends. Thanks for stopping by.
**Warning** This is a Sappy one!
Fly Fisherman, Precise Cattle Herder, Cowboy.
Roper, Windmill Repairman, Farrier.
Fireman, Horseman, Driver of Tractor.
Rancher, Cattle Feeder, Houndsman.
My teacher of all things western. My muse. My heart. My true love on the four wheeler through life.
Happy Birthday Patrick. May all your dreams come true.
**Updated**Patrick thanks you all for the Birthday well wishes in the comments below!
Wanna know how to get cows to surround and follow your truck? Put hay on the flatbed.
Stick a cowboy up there with a pitchfork and drive slowly. Be careful not to throw him off while pressing the gas and the shutter button on the camera at the same time.
And even though hay has been pitched out for them to munch on, they continue to follow. I guess they think the next forkload will be better that the last.
Last week I posted Labor of Necessity and promised more pictures from that firefight. Click the image below to see more from that day.
Say a little prayer we don’t get another one of these calls before fire season is over.
Have a great weekend!
Yesterday morning the phone rang and the voice on the other end said they saw smoke in the hills. Then the fire chief called. While Patrick suited up, I loaded my backpack with lenses, kerchiefs, bottled water and granola bars. I was going on this one. You may remember on past fires, I’ve had to sit nervously at home waiting for a call that all is well. This wasn’t happening yesterday. I wanted to see it for myself and document this labor of necessity.
We were there for about 5 hours and by the time Patrick and I left, it was mostly out. They dug trenches around the rocky hill where the fire was burning the most in hopes that it doesn’t jump and spread. The winds were anything but calm and that kept us on our toes watching for flying embers.
I have more images to share but for now, these 2 are of Patrick on top of the hill with the extended hose waiting for water to reach him. It was an intense afternoon and thankfully for now, all is well.
I got the call yesterday evening that there was a fire at McCauley’s Ranch just across Palmer Canyon. I called Patrick off the meadow he was baling to let him know they were in need of some serious help. While I waited for him to come in, I went and stared at his firefighting gear. I’ve always known it was there but I had hoped I would never see him in it. I knew this day would eventually come. And I know it’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last.
But I must admit he does look mighty handsome in that fire retardant suit. That, however, did not help the ache in my chest.
He was out there all night long until a team of 13 that travels to help towns on fire arrived to relieve them. When he got home his morning, he said it seems well contained. Let’s hope it stays that way.
We took a quick drive to Nebraska for a barbecue on July 4th. We weren’t there long but we had enough time to fish and hunt elk. By fish I mean with a fly-rod. Patrick taught me how to fly-fish. I caught a few too! And by hunt elk of course I mean with my camera. I have never been this close to elk unless it’s hanging on someone’s wall. Out in the hills around the ranch where we live, I will see them way off in the distance and usually it’s just their rear-end getting the heck away from us. But on this trip, we located them at sunset and sunrise. They posed for us and it was incredible.
Click this image for some close-ups of elk in the velvet.
Click this image to see the area and insects that hopped and fluttered around us while we fished in the ponds that were FULL of bass. We spent time with Patrick’s Uncle Rich and his lovely gal and her two kids. Storms would creep up on us and quickly move along which created great conditions for the fish to bite.
Needless to say we had a great time. Thanks Uncle Rich!
This was my view ALL morning long.
And then this. I had to get away from the rear-ends for a while.
Then, and only for a moment, my view became this.
But then back to the cows. We’re trailing them from the Bealy to the Harris for new pasture.
The haze in these 2 images is dust from sheet grass. When we were done, we were covered from head to toe in this dust.
This bull strayed away from the heard so John had to round him up and bring him back to the ladies.
It took a long time, it was hot and the ladies were not happy with that long trail. But I hope they appreciate where we took them. They gotta love this grass!
I love this pasture. The locals can’t believe we’re looking at grass so green in July. So hot, but so beautiful.