Cow Camp, Week 1

Cow camp essentials. They're practically mandated by the state of Nevada.


I just returned from day-working in the North Spring Valley, which is between Ely, Nevada and the Utah line.  The camp house was a very clean and comfortable 3-bedroom modular home assembled in 1972.  My favorite part was the neon orange Formica countertops in the kitchen.

Actually, my truly favorite parts were the pear and apple trees in the backyard.  They were next to a now-defunct satellite dish so large that I could’ve turned it upside down, thrown a tarp over it, and taken shelter for the night.  Fortunately, my sleeping arrangements didn’t come to that, as I brought my bedroll and had my own room.

The first morning, our go-getter of a boss man had everyone get up at 4:00 AM.  It wasn’t even light enough to see until 6:20.  I actually took a nap between breakfast and catching horses. 

Nights and early mornings were dirty cold.  Half the crew wore straw hats; I wore my Scotch cap with the earflaps down all day.  I pulled part of my 40″ wild rag up over my chin to shield my face from the icy wind.  Every time I turned my head while we held rodear, my wild rag fell off my chin.  I considered hooking it onto my ears.  Maybe next time I’ll bring a couple safety pins and attach it directly to my ear flaps.

I didn’t freeze in vain; I was fortunate enough to spend time with 2 handy cowboys who savvy the business world as well.  I tried to listen quietly and absorb their discussions concerning futures contracts, 10-year leases, the benefits of late calving and intensive pasture rotation, but my kindergartener-like hypercuriousity could only be restrained for so long.  At one point I had to ask, “Are all pivots the same length?”*

A handy, ambitious 16-year-old kid works for one of the cowboy/businessman.  Jonas (the kid) and I moved some pairs to the next field one day.  Not wanting to be a non-gate-opening princess, I trotted ahead to set a wire gate.  I wrestled and strained to open it.  I took my rope down on it.  I couldn’t budge it.

After Jonas opened the gate, I thanked him for helping me.

“Oh, shoot, it’s no problem,” he said.  “It’s getting me broke in for cowboying with my girlfriend.”

“Oh, does your girlfriend like to ride?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I don’t have one yet.”

His forward-thinking optimism isn’t totally unfounded; he has a nice yellow colt, a check from selling some cows in the bank, and a date on Saturday night.

I’m going back for more next week, with a little rougher cowboy company….as long as they don’t eat all my corn tortillas, we’ll get along fine 🙂



*The answer is “no.”

1 Comment

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One response to “Cow Camp, Week 1

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