Trigger called the other day and asked if we would be interested in coming down to the ranch to help him move a bunch of cattle. T-dub and i had so much fun when we went down a few weeks ago we quickly agreed and loaded up wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, straw hats, and a couple of bikes and headed south to look for cows on a windswept rocky mountain side. The suburban cowboy and his family also headed south for the adventure where we all got a few lessons in cowboying. Here i present a few of those first lessons.
Lesson no. 1: the cows are not all sitting around having little tea parties just waiting for you to come and show them where to go.
As we drove past a small valley and Trigger started pointing out all the draws and hills where the suburban cowboy and his lovely wife Ernie would have to ride to gather the cattle, Ernie, bless her little heart, suddenly exclaimed, "oh really? this is not what i imagined. i thought they would all be together and we would just have to ride up and politely tell them where to go" (i'm paraphrasing, i may have taken some poetic license, but that's basically what she said). Under his stiffled laughter Trigger explained that, no the cows weren't all together just waiting for us to go get them, but they were, in fact, scattered all over the mountain and one of them would have to ride back and forth driving them to the main group which the other one of them would be pushing towards the gate a few miles down the road.
Ernie ready for 8 hrs. in the saddle, looking hip and fashionable in her aviator glasses and park city chic boots and jeans.
Lesson no. 2: cell phones aren't cool when you're hanging out with cowboys (and they don't work very well for that matter when you're hours from the nearest habitation).
As Ernie and the suburban cowboy mounted up and got ready to head out Ernie earnestly asked the suburban cowboy, "you have your cell phone right?"
Trigger could no longer contain his laughter, "I hate to tell you honey, but no cell phone is gonna work up here." Ernie looked worried, consternated, scared, and nervous. What if she fell off her horse? what if she lost her husband? what if she got lost? But to her credit she spurred her horse and did her job, cell phone or not.
The suburban Cowboy and ernie mounted up and ready to go (with cell phones in their pockets, you know, just in case).
Lesson no. 3: how to throw a calf.
A number of the calves had been born on the mountain and thus hadn't been tagged, castrated, or otherwise tended to in the spring before the cows had been taken from the desert to the high mountain range. As a result, a cowboy has to rope these untagged calves and take care of some basic business. This is easier said than done, however, which the following will illustrate. First of all, calves are heavy. Even though they look small, they weigh in the order of 150-300+ lbs. Second, picking up and throwing 250 lbs. is hard enough as it is, now consider that these little buggers, despite those big, soft brown eyes, are just as intent on not being picked up and thrown on the ground as you are on getting them down. Third, despite being frustratingly slow and lethargic when you're trying to herd them, those little calves are surprisingly quick and energetic when you get a rope around their neck and try holding them to the ground.
But Trigger roped a calf and provided instruction: "grab the rope and work your way up, then grab it's front leg and rear flank, lift it, drive your knee in its side to knock it off balance, and throw it down. As soon as it's down, kneel on it's kneck and grab its front leg so it can't jump back up." easy enough right. Well, let's watch the suburban cowboy and see.
and now let's watch Trigger show how it's supposed to be done.
The great irony in this is that earlier in the day after i had tried to throw a calf and just about lost my left testicle after i didn't kneel on it quickly enough after i threw it and it jumped back up between my legs leaving me straddling it backwards with the rope wrapped around my leg and still dallied to Trigger's saddle, the suburban cowboy endlessly riled me. "Take your skirt off and throw that calf down," he laughed from his horse. "When are you going to quit being a pansy and start being a man?" This coming from the same guy who looked more like he was doing an awkward tapdance than trying to throw a calf. The week before we went to the ranch he called me and expressed some concern (that's an understatement, he was downright upset) that i had dubbed him the "suburban cowboy" on my blog. I told him i would consider changing it, but now think it is only fair to put this decision to my reading audience (all three of you). So please refer to the poll on the right side of the blog and vote on whether you think i should continue to refer to him as the "suburban cowboy" or whether i should start calling him the "really tough cowboy who just happens to live in the suburbs." You may also use the comment board to suggest other nicknames for the brother currently known as the "suburban cowboy."
Lesson no. 4: real cowboys don't wear shirts