Uprooted Magnolia

Today, at Daybreak

Posted in Cowboy, Photography by leahyetter on June 30, 2011

Daybreak

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.


 

Rainy Day Branding

Posted in Branding, Cattle Roundup, Photography, Ranching by leahyetter on May 23, 2011

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.

And looped.

And branded.

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.


Young and Feisty

Posted in Calving, Photography, Ranching by leahyetter on March 31, 2011

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.


“Mama Didn’t Raise No Quitter”

Posted in Home, Love, Photography by leahyetter on March 25, 2011

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.


Life was gray and smiles were hard to come by.

Overheard at Brandings and Cattle Drives

Posted in Cowboy, Photography by leahyetter on March 4, 2011

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!


Love on the Ranch

Posted in Love, Photography by leahyetter on February 14, 2011

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.

Leah


Man of Many Hats

Posted in Cowboy, Love, Photography by leahyetter on February 1, 2011

**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.

L♥ve, Sweetpea


 
**Updated**Patrick thanks you all for the Birthday well wishes in the comments below!
 


Dusk

Posted in Cowboy, Photography, Ranching by leahyetter on November 24, 2010

His eyes as blue as the sky.

His heart as soft as a well-worn saddle.

Sun-drenched hands covered in dust

guides his horse that leads the cattle

through meadows and open pasture

into the hills at dusk.


Have Hay? Cow will Follow.

Posted in Cattle Roundup, Ranching by leahyetter on October 21, 2010

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.

Or they think I’ve got yummy cake for them to eat from my hand.


 

So, about that fire.

Posted in Thankful by leahyetter on September 17, 2010

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!


Labor of Necessity

Posted in Thankful by leahyetter on September 7, 2010

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 knew this day would eventually come.

Posted in Cowboy, Thankful by leahyetter on July 13, 2010

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.

cowboy firefighter

Back home, safe and sound.

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.

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The Five Points Ranch

Posted in Nature, Stormy Skies, Travel, Wildlife by leahyetter on July 8, 2010

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.

Elk silhouette at sunrise

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.

the beautiful calm before the storm

Needless to say we had a great time.  Thanks Uncle Rich!

Trailing to New Pasture

Posted in Cattle Roundup, Ranching by leahyetter on July 2, 2010

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!

Freedom!

I love this pasture. The locals can’t believe we’re looking at grass so green in July. So hot, but so beautiful.

3am, Wednesday Morning

Posted in Nature, Ranching by leahyetter on June 30, 2010

Do you know where your cowboy will be?

While I’m sawing logs, mine will be baling hay.

He waits until the dew is just right on his already 80 acres of cut hay and then bales it into round bales. Being on top of the moisture measurement prevents mildewed hay. Round bales do best to keep mildew at it’s lowest but some ranchers make square bales. Those are best for stacking and transporting for selling.

I’ll take him some lunch mid-morning. I might find him sleeping in the tractor. I’ll keep you posted.

*Yawn*

Blue

Posted in Home, Wildlife by leahyetter on June 27, 2010

This isn’t a post about one of the greatest albums of all time by Joni Mitchell, although it is one of my favorites.

I was visited by this dragonfly today and I felt like sharing some images of blue.

The Mule Shoe Ranch on the way to town has peacocks out to keep traffic slow around there. I love being greeted by them while coming or going from the ranch.

One thing I enjoy doing with my blue-eyed cowboy is take the hounds (blue-tick and walker) out for a stroll under the blue evening sky.

And then we have Patrick’s hands when he gets home from spraying weeds with a vibrant blue dye. Steering wheels and door knobs mysteriously turn blue during this time as well.

The Gathering of the Bulls

Posted in Cattle Roundup, Wild Life by leahyetter on June 24, 2010

On Fathers Day, it seemed only appropriate to gather the bulls from the distant meadows to eventually put them in with the cows. The calves are growing up so it’s time to make new ones. We don’t want the cows to suffer from empty nest syndrome now do we? On this particular day, the bulls were quite agreeable and didn’t give us much trouble at all.

They marched through the meadows like good soldiers. Except for the occasional snort and kicking of dirt, it was a slow and easy process.

It  took a little convincing but they made it through the gate without any hassle.

They stopped for a quick snack of flowering yucca weed.

And they made the turn into the corral nice and easy. But this was only the first set of bulls that needed gathering.

The next day we released the bulls with the cows for a little flirting and baby making.

Fast forward to yesterday when it was time to get the last of the bulls. I thought hey no big deal, just like earlier in the week, we’ll get them right in no problem. Well, I was terribly mistaken. These guys were a lot feistier than the previous group. The fighting started almost immediately.

It got rougher and tougher as time went on.

We started to worry that they might drown. They kind of look like hippos don’t they?

They started to slow it down and just stood head to head in a definite power struggle.

This guy was getting sick of the fighting too. He just stood there bellowing trying to beak them up.

Once they got out of the water, it started all over again.

We did get them into the corral and they will be placed with the cows eventually. It’s a good thing, they need to release that testosterone and fast!

2,750 cubic feet released per second and done rising

Posted in Home, Nature, Wildlife by leahyetter on June 15, 2010

It’s twice it’s width and 3 times or more it’s depth and the Laramie River is still a beautiful sight.

It rose rapidly yesterday evening. Patrick took down the buck fence to prevent debris from taking down the bridge in case the water rose high enough. It was good that he did because we sat and watched huge logs and trees float rapidly down and bump into the bridge before making their way underneath. Limbs could have gotten tangled in the fence and wreaked havoc on the entire bridge.

While we sat quietly enjoying the nice weather and watching our beloved bridge, we had some visitors. Down the drive came a doe and her fawns.

And next came a hen waddling out from the tall grass. We watched them for a while then decided to head out back to check that part of the river.

The water crept up quite a bit into the road. Where Patrick is standing is where I stood the day before to photograph the rapids. It was dry land then.

We’re told that no more water will be released but the river will probably be this high for at least a week if not longer. In all it has risen  2,750 cubic feet.

The Laramie Rages

Posted in Home, Stormy Skies by leahyetter on June 14, 2010

Wyoming has had a large amount of rain and spring runoff this year so far. That said, the rivers are so full that the water management has released water from the reservoir in the small town of Bosler. Yesterday they released 900 cubic ft and today they plan on releasing another 2,000.

We went out in our mud boots to check on things yesterday evening. These are views from the bridge leading into the ranch.

The water is only about a foot or 2 from reaching the bridge. We’ll check this evening but we’re nervous about losing it. There is already one road closed because of flooding.

This is the river behind the house where we cross the cows to graze more meadows.

Usually this river is a peaceful little stream lazily flowing over the rocks and around the bends. Now we have crashing waves and buried willows and trees.

This is pretty common back east but out here, we’re used to a dry climate.  Fortunately, it’s nothing like the flash floods that are going through in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Took a ride in the Big Green Tractor

Posted in Cowboy, Wildlife by leahyetter on June 12, 2010
We took a tractor ride over to the sprinkler the other day and came upon a flock of cuteness. The first is my stubbly cowboy in the rear-view.

tractor ride to the sprinkler

But the real preciousness came when we saw a turkey in the drive snuggling her little ones. She quickly got up before I could get a picture of them and they escaped into the tall grass.

baby turkeys with momma hen

If you look closely, you can see the babies following the leader.

more baby turkeys with momma hen

In all we saw 6 broods with their mother hens. They are already flying over the tall grass and we hope they all make it.  Those evil coyotes are always on the hunt.