I live at Reed Station, on the right-hand side of the Van Norman Quarter Horses’ Ranch if you’re in Elko looking toward Owyhee. The house is a trailer that predates Ian Tyson’s conversion to cowboy music. Only two windows actually open. It’s like living in a toaster oven.
We currently have just enough hot water to trick a person into shampooing her hair, then gasping and rinsing while trying to not let the water actually touch her body. It’s a delicate art I have yet to master, so I’ve resorted to showering three times a week at Geri’s house. I pretend I’m at camp and then I feel fortunate; those guys never get to shower.
Once in a while, Ty and I remove the door from the water heater cubbyhole-thingy and attempt to diagnose and fix the problem. My job consists of handing Ty a Phillips screwdriver and eating Fritos while sitting on the old water heater, which lies next to the trailer house on the lawn. Ty pokes around in the wires and flexible pipes, uttering common electricians’ phrases such as “Wow, I definitely don’t have a wrench that will fit that!” and “Do you remember if Terry plugged this in or rewired it when we installed it last fall?”
After several minutes, we replace the door and head for the barn. Horses always start and never need rewiring.
I have discovered a new favorite pastime during my horseback hours: choking yearlings. Prior to last week, I limited myself to only heeling cattle outside. I told myself I wasn’t experienced enough, handy or quick enough with a rope to latch onto an eight-weight steer in the brush. Plus, I had an all-consuming terror of losing my rope.
Two weeks ago, Ty’s horse ducked left when he jerked his slack, and he lost his rope. You know what happened? He went and got his rope back. The world did not halt its rotation and he did not turn into a pineapple. Nobody even yelled. Chasing something through the rocks and brush while swinging a rope is more fun than eating popcorn. Now, if a steer so much as sneezes, takes a step to the left, right, straight, or looks at me, I correctly interpret his nonverbal interspecies communication to mean “Rope me.”
I coiled up my rope, put on a dress, and went dancing at the Silver State Rodeo last Saturday night. A friend and I had a running joke last year: we told everyone we were married and expecting twins. People would exclaim their congratulations, look at my stomach, and ask how far along I was. I smiled, said two months, and vowed to never wear that shirt again. This year, I saw my first husband and reminded him it was our anniversary. He said he had picked me a bouquet of sagebrush, wild onion and bloomed-out lupine, but forgot to bring it. Typical husband.
While visiting with friends during the rodeo, I repeatedly caught glimpses of saddled, riderless horses being led across the arena. Jeez, I thought, sure are a lot of guys getting bucked down. Dang arena cowboys anyway! Always having to catch their horses. I then realized they were steer wrestling. My mind’s gone brushy 🙂