Tag Archives: cowboys

The Joys of Fall

Autumn is upon us, with its crisp fall air that makes a person want to long trot several miles first thing of a morning.  Ahh, those frosty mornings – wild rags are fluttering in the breeze, cotton gloves are holding the reins, and guys are getting bucked off at the Span. 

I have decided that the American cowboy population constitutes a subculture,and not just because I substitute teach in the winter and cowboy in the summer.  (Get it…SUBculture?  Nevermind.)  There are notable cultural differences.  When fall arrives, other demographics in America (the blue-collar working class, the white-collar working class, celebrities) hold football parties in each others’ homes.  Cowboys (the dirty-collar working class) hold shipping parties at Basque restaurants.

Mainstream American citizens (hereafter known as “regular people”) enjoy getting themselves purposely lost, and hopefully subsequently found without dialing 911, in corn mazes.*  Cowboys (hereafter known as “cowboys”) could do the same thing with willow patches.  How fun would that be – an exciting adventure of thrashing around in the willows, wading through mud bogs, swatting mosquitos, and getting your hands bloody with scratches!  Before entering, participants would receive a list of inventive cuss words, as they’re sure to use all the ones they already know, and a Border Collie.  Hey, you never know when they might find a remnant steer.

By this time of year, regular people’s children have been back in school for several weeks.  Cowboys’ children are back in school, too.  We’re brushy, not dumb.  Plus, it’s a federal law.

In a couple weeks, regular people will hand out gobs of candy to neighborhood children.  Cowboy-type people, not having any neighbors (no, the pack rat in the mud room doesn’t count), will watch Good Old Boys and eat all the stale Snickers bars left over from last Halloween, when (big surprise) no trick-or-treaters arrived.**

Right now, regular people are carving pumpkins.  Right now, cowboy people are, too.  Dude, they sell ’em at Raley’s. 

Regular people are currently raking fallen leaves.  Cowboys have leaves to rake, too.  Except they won’t actually rake them because 1) the 3 total trees on the high desert don’t generate too many leaves and 2) that’s rawzin-jaw work.

As we plod through fall (aka “the fall works,” aka “no sleep ’till Thanksgiving”), I am overcome with an urge to bake fresh apple pies on a regular basis – like, every 3 hours.  Elko County residents have to purchase apples at the grocery store like lowlife scum, unlike in my native California where we picked them freely at will from the tree in the front yard/back yard/cow pasture up the road.  Purchasing fruit goes against the grain of my moral being; it’s worse than voting for a Democrat or wearing sunglasses indoors.  I won’t do it!

Okay, maybe I will.  I really want an apple pie.

*Am I the only one who thinks it’d be more fun, if not somewhat redundant, to call them “corn maizes”?  Get it….MAIZE?  Nevermind.
**Avoid eating the ones with obvious pack rat teeth marks in the wrappers.  Unless you’re really craving chocolate.  Then, pretend you didn’t see them and chow down.

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20 Things To Do While Waiting

While buckarooing, a person oftens finds his or herself waiting.  Sometimes one waits for 10 minutes; sometimes one waits for 3 hours.  You just can’t know. 

I would like to formally dedicate this post to Mrs. Tipton, aka “Annie Maddalena,” aka “Annie Banannie,” aka “Little Sam.”  It sounds like you can relate 🙂 

20 Things To Do While Waiting

  1. Hobble your horse and take a nap. First, make certain sure you are waiting in the correct place.

  2. Make your partner guess your boot size/middle name/cost of your saddle/horse’s age/favorite country song

  3. Tell a joke. Q: What did the old Indian say when his horse ran away over the hill? A: “There goes my horse.”

  4. Guess what time it is. No one actually wins, since no one wears a watch.

  5. Utilize the sun dial method to determine what time it is. This will kill a good twenty minutes while you argue with your partner about which direction is north.

  6. Discuss which foods would taste really delicious. “Mmmm, prime rib from Lone Mountain.” “I could really go for a cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake from Mattie’s right about now.” “Doesn’t a gin and tonic sound delicious?” This is especially fun if breakfast was 10 hours ago.

  7. Cut off a saddle string and re-lace your stirrups.

  8. Cut off a saddle string and make a stampede string for your hat.

  9. Cut off a saddle string and make a friendship bracelet.

  10. Re-string your saddle.

  11. Blow your nose. This works best with a handkerchief, but don’t be afraid to improvise.

  12. Adjust the seams of your socks so they are in perfectly straight lines.

  13. Braid a piece of pink flagging ribbon into your horse’s mane.

  14. Scan the countryside for mountain lions

  15. Whip out a mouth harp and play When The Saints Go Marching In until your horse hates you.

  16. Adjust the knot on your get-down rope several times, until it is exactly the way it was when you left the barn.

  17. Make up a list of things to do while waiting.

  18. Memorize the grooves in your horn wrap.

  19. Invent middle names for your horses, i.e. Bojangles “Whitey Face,”  Cat “Elizabeth,”  Shorty “Short Hair,”  Jubilee “Many Freckles,” Owyhee “River,”  and Muley “Fatty.”

  20. Sing The Battle of New Orleans.

    Me and ol' Banner, just a-waitin'

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A Shoeing Saga

“I shod a whole horse for the first time last week,” I told a friend over the phone.

“What did you do, a foot a day?” he asked.

“Of course not!” I replied.  “I did half on Monday and half on Wednesday.”

The front feet took me roughly 3 hours, give or take 45 minutes.  I used to think it was really gross when I saw a man with sweat droplets running off his nose and down his hairline while he shod a horse.  On Monday, I was too busy sopping up my forehead with my shirtsleeve to pass judgment on anybody else’s loss of bodily fluids while performing manual labor.

The hind feet took me approximately 2 hours, so progress was made.  Halfway through, Katherine paused in shoeing her horse to flop down in a chair we keep in the barn.

“I’m just going to sit here and hurt for a minute,” she said.

I suppressed a deeply felt urge to lay down on the barn floor, picked up a rasp, and resumed my attempt at leveling a foot.  My personal technique, not currently taught at any professional horseshoeing school, is to rasp the foot until I can no longer stand, then tack a shoe on.  I’m not afraid to set the foot down and rest in between nails.

While shaping a shoe, I held it up to my horse’s hind foot and realized it was slightly off.

“Oh, shoot,” I said.  “I brought the heel in a bit, and now the rest of that side is too far in.  Well, I guess he does have a little flare I can take off.”

“That’s the spirit!” called Katherine.

I thought I would feel immense and complete satisfaction after tacking iron on a horse in my string.  After I clinched my last nail and straightened my back, I didn’t think, “Wow, check out what I did!”  Instead, I felt the onset of total-body soreness, surveyed all the faults in my shoeing job, and thought, “Oh, crud, I hope nobody looks at his feet.”

When guys finishing shoeing, they look at their friend’s horse and say “That looks like $#!*@.  Are you sure you want to take him to town?”  When a girl finishes shoeing and laments how lousy her work looks, another girl looks at the horse and says, “Don’t worry, he looks fine!  You’ll get better every time.  Just keep practicing.”

So far, it’s been one full week and my horse still has all his shoes and is sound.  At this point, those are pretty much my main two requirements in a Jolyn Laubacher shoeing job.  As time goes on, I may add more, such as Does Not Look Like a Beaver Chewed on The Front of His Hoof, but for right now, we’re going for sound and still there.  It’s something to build on 🙂

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McDermitt

The Great Basin cowboy population descended upon McDermitt for July 4th, largely because most of us couldn’t afford fuel to drive to anyplace with a shade tree.  The rest of us went because we knew it’d be fun.

Immediately upon arrival, Kyla painted her toenails and I fixed my makeup.  We felt very ranchy.  Next, we slathered sunblock on every area of exposed skin, plus some that weren’t.  You can never be too careful.

After the horse and muley jackpot roping on Saturday, ice chests came out and shade awnings lined the arena for two days of rodeo excitement.  Jim Young made a good bronc ride, but unfortunately it was during the branding contest.  No official score was given, and he declined the reride option.

After the rodeo, everyone gathered at the Say When.  Where else can a person buy 6 mixed drinks for $18.75?  Or order a beer, hand the bartender a $10 bill and receive 2 fives, 2 ones and a quarter in change?  Bars that pay customers to drink are rare.  Actually, they’re probably bankrupt.

The band was good, and free.  Myles looked at my dress and said, “This is a ranch rodeo, not a formal event.”  But it’s so fun to twirl!

After twirling around the street dance until…who knows when, we all took naps and headed back to the rodeo grounds on the morning of July the 4th.  By then, partying didn’t feel like a celebration of a national holiday; it felt like punishment.  But, we powered through to watch the ZX team win the rodeo, then loaded up the trailers.

It takes 4 1/2 hours to get to McDermitt and 3 days to get home.  My traveling partners decided to relive their Squaw Valley days and take the longcut to Elko, through Tuscarora.  What follows is a sample conversation.

Driver (me): Hey, guys, was that the Midas turnoff back there?
Kids in the backseat (Rolly, Jim and Ryan): Oh, no – it’s up here a ways, just keep going.

A few miles later…

Kids in the backseat: Man, I don’t remember this power line being here.  And this turnout wasn’t here before!  I haven’t been out this way in forever!
Someone: I think we missed the turn.

The driver (me) pulled over, just as the tackroom door flew opena nd Jim’s saddle fell out.  We repacked and made it to the resevoir, where we watered the horses and Jake did his impression of a bareback bronco rider.  His mistake was letting the horse out of the pond and onto dry ground.

We eventually made it home, and I consider my trip a success because of two things.  #1: I had an actual, two-person, dialogue-style conversation with Jake Brennan (the one who works for Rolly, not the one who works for Matt Mori).  #2: We didn’t get thrown in San Quentin.  Can’t beat that with a stick.

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Sagebrush Telegraph #1

The Sagebrush Telegraph
News from where the FM stations are static-y and nobody knows how to swim

 Elko County residents removed their wild rags and tentatively stored their down jackets just in time for the glorious Fourth. Cattle are turned out for the summer, cowboys are taking their ropes down every time the boss goes to town, and lock ‘er up if she’s young and pretty when the TS crew hits Elko on Saturday night.

The YP Ranch threw a big party last weekend to celebrate the completion of branding. Rumor has it a live band entertained the guests, who partied like the cows were never coming home. You know what they say: Be there or be sober.

Just down the road from the YP, Michael and Madison Mori welcomed a baby boy, Pete Robert, on June 4. He joins big sister Marinna (Marenna? Marynna? Marena? Eh, close) and attended his first branding at 8 days old. He did not rope.

For the older kids, school’s out, and young Anna Van Norman made her first honest-to-goodness, bring-your-own-cattle circle last week. She may not be old or stout enough yet to stop the whole herd in a run-back, but she doesn’t miss any cattle and she’s one heck of a drag-bringer-upper.

Anna’s aunt, Tilly Van Norman will become Mrs. Freeman next month when she weds longtime Elko resident Jason Freeman (no relation to Asher and Barak). The beautiful bride-to-be currently spends all of her waking (and probably half of her sleeping) moments planning for her dress, her bridesmaids’ dresses, flower girls’ dresses, flowers, the reception, food, music, invitations, groomsmen’s attire, the cake, the guest book, should the ring bearer remain standing with the wedding party or sit down with his mother during the ceremony?, the honeymoon trip, and how to decorate her new home. She spends approximately 6 ½ hours each day on the phone, not including time spent dialing. Luckily, she has an understanding roommate who doesn’t consider communication with members of the outside world a personal necessity.

For members of the outside world looking for a big break, the historic Reed Station division of the JP Bar Ranch is currently accepting applications for a full-time cook and housekeeper. The position is unpaid and housing is sketchy, but mismatched pots and pans are supplied. BYOS (bring your own spatula). Applicants must hold a two-year degree from a US accredited culinary institute or have at least 3 weeks’ experience waiting tables at Denny’s. Call the Telegraph for more additional information; serious inquiries only.

Larry Goicoechea has taken over owner/manager/chef responsibilities at Lone Mountain Station once again, and Jim Young was spotted dining there on Saturday night with a redheaded gal. They both enjoyed Larry’s famous prime rib while she sipped red wine and he drank Coors Light. Mr. Young was unavailable for comments, but word around the sagebrush is she’s a writer of some sort.

For upcoming events, the ever-lovely Denise Moody will be making a special guest appearance at this year’s Elko County Fair. She looks forward to watching the novice snaffle bit class, where her daughter may or may not fall off going down the fence. Ms. Moody is excited to trade in her duties of teaching horsemanship to troubled children in Southern Arizona and buckaroo for a couple days. A quick heads up: she will take in the afternoon horse races, so clear the way to the betting windows and hang onto your money. Mama knows how to pick ’em.

Enjoy the summer; both weeks should be great.  Take a deep seat and a faraway look in your eye 🙂

 

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A Rodeo Survival Story

We all survived the Spring Creek Ranch Rodeo, and I don’t mind saying just barely.  Luckily, there were no wrecks requiring an ambulance or vet, and the only incident to note involved a cowboy’s right rein breaking during the branding contest.  I won’t mention any names, but he works at the YP, was riding a big Paint horse, and answers to Tim Kershner.  Not too sure what exactly happened, but he finished the event with only half his steering ability and did just fine.

I got “voluntold” to help with the calcutta prior to Saturday evening’s performance.  I’d never helped with a calcutta before, and it turned out that  “helping” meant running a footrace with myself carrying receipt books up and down bleachers and collecting checks from large, menacing women who said they owed $195 while my calculations said $205.  I barely survived.

After my public service stint, I sipped a gin and tonic and mingled.  Katie and I had prettied ourselves up at her house before the rodeo, and between the pre-event cocktails and giggling, I ended up with an Oscars-worthy updo.  I wore smoky eyeshadow, black eyeliner, and a  you-can’t-tell-it’s-not-real-leather biker jacket.  Seven-year-old Anna said “You look like you should be on a motorcyle!”  I felt like a bad a$$.  It was fun 🙂

During the rodeo, I finalized the details of my next job, lined up interviews for articles, conducted an interview, ate some French fries, cuddled the world’s cutest six-month-old (he belongs to you, Becky!), and pinky-swore a high school junior that I’d substitute teach school one day on the rez next year.  I hope I survive.

After the rodeo, we enjoyed smoke-free ambiance and conversation at the Star, then headed to Stockmen’s to dance.  The band was good and the drinks were weak, but due to the chain smokers we were all guaranteed to feel ill the next morning.  We somehow survived.

I decided partway through the night that I would be sober driver, but my change of plans was thwarted when I realized I didn’t have my pickup.  After the band quit, I drank big cups of water and listened to the guys tell stories about getting frapped harder into the dirt by the pickup man’s run-off horse than the actual bronc, starting colts in Kentucky last fall, and drinking in Nashville (“There are twenty-six bars in that town, and we went to all of ’em in one night!  I don’t remember most of them, though.”  Really?  Weird.)  They barely survived.

Finally, Christina and I took the boys to their motel at 4 AM.  One of them offered me a ride home, and I told him Christina was taking me.  He offered again, and I told him if he needed a place to stay, we had two extra rooms.

He looked at me with a level gaze and said, “But, I wouldn’t want to stay in one of those rooms.”

“Well, that’s where you’d be stayin’,” I replied.

“You mean, we can’t just make out for a little while?”

“Um, no,” I said and (because I laugh at everything), I laughed. 

He shrugged and laughed, too.  “Well, don’t be mad at me for trying.”

“Oh, no, I’m flattered, thank you.  But that’s just not going to happen,” I said as I grabbed my purse and headed for Christina’s pickup.

Whew!  I went to bed early Sunday night and I’m teaching third grade today, which is a survival story in itself.  Can’t wait ’till Jordan Valley Big Loop….hope I survive 🙂

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Hit The Road, Jack

I took a cue from Dave Barry (motto: “I love mottoes”) and compiled this fictitious (please don’t sue me, city of Newport) travel guide.

Elko, Nevada: Motto “Our streets are more rutted than yours.”  Come experience the real Wild West, as it applies to eating at one of the many delicious and smoke-filled casino restaurants, playing the slots while grocery shopping, and hanging out with pipe line workers at the laundromat.  Local buckaroo sightings available in town every payday.

Montague, California: Motto “Weed has the college, Yreka has the Wal-Mart, but we have the roping club.”  In this quaint rural town, you can buy fuel (including diesel!), eat at one of the one downtown restaurants, or mail a letter.  Make a day of it and do all three.

Bozeman, Montana: Motto “We hate Californians.”  In this beautifully built college town, you can eat some truly terrible Mexican food, some truly delicious sushi (fried chicken rolls available) and fly fish within miles of the city limits.  Budget tourist packages consist of driving around local communities and taking pictures of multi-million dollar vacation homes.  Bison burger lunches provided; bring your own camera.

Newport, Oregon: Motto “Where the ocean meets the sky, and the sun never shines.”   Enjoy fresh-caught seafood in one of the many locally-owned restaurants, hike in the lush hills, watch surfers brave 2-foot waves in wetsuits (hypothermia optional; additional fee required), or count raindrops.  Annual temperatures fluctuate from 56-59 degrees Farenheit.  Rain expected 312 days a year, with special emphasis on July 4th.

Tombstone, Arizona: Motto “Wyatt Earp lives!  He’s just on meth with the rest of the population.”  A mere 15 miles from Mexico (as the crow flies.  As the crow drives, it’s about 40 miles down the interstate and through the Border Patrol checkpoint), T-stone offers visitors the unique opportunity to stroll down wooden sidewalks, buy a t-shirt that reads “I’ll Be Your Huckleberry,” and eat an ice cream cone while watching a gunfight.  Editor’s note: the $2 margaritas are mixed 50/50 and significantly raise the ratings for the entire town.

If this doesn’t inspire you to grab a change of underwear and your toothbrush, crank over the diesel engine and hit the interstate, you can always settle for the at-home cowboy vacation: buy a jug of Carlo Rossi and watch Lonesome Dove. Both discs.

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Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo

The best stories are always unprintable, but here’s one slightly censored version of last weekend’s Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo.

I drove over on Saturday morning with Tilly and her boyfriend Jason.  Tilly was in the rodeo, so we left Elko at 5:15 AM in the morning.  It seems Rule #1 of Winnemucca is “All road trips must begin before 5:30 AM.”  Whether people drove from neighboring states, the Owyhee Reservation or ten miles south of the fairgrounds, everybody left in the dark.  It was good conditioning for a weekend of sleep deprivation. 

First stop for everyone seemed to be the Maverik gas station, where rodeo attendees bought diesel, coffee, and potato chips.  Once at the fairgrounds, the contestants loped their horses around and we spectators sipped bloody marys with plenty of pickled vegetables and ate chili fries. 

First point of interest: the horses from the rez.  I gotta say, I like those long, tall, rangy-lookin’ horses!  Such an improvement from riding Texas cutters, where you can actually help your horse travel by setting your feet on and pushing off the taller rocks. 

Horseflesh aside, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the trade show.  Looking at all the hand-engraved silver, tooled saddles, Millie Hunt-Porter books, and jewlery with no spending money was kind of masochistic.  I took two-year-old Maggie walking around with me, and she would stop, point, and let out a loud gasp of delight every time she saw a dog or another child her size.  Good reminder that the best things in life still are free.

After the rodeo and during the horse sale, I made a great discovery.  If you buy coffee at the concession stand and carry it to the bar, they will pour a shot of kahlua in it for a small fee.  Yahtzee!  Hot toddies saved my cold-blooded self Saturday night. 

After the horse sale, we migrated to Winners Casino.  The Jeff Palmer Band did justice to some rockin’ dance tunes, somebody drank the bar out of Jack, and we got free popcorn.  Most unique line from a guy I’ve heard so far: “It’s 2:13.  Wanna go sleep in a bathtub?”  I think that was his way of saying “It’s getting late and I’m really drunk.  Can I crash in your room?” 

By the time I called it a night (or early morning, whatever), I had two outside horses to ride this summer, a queasy stomach from breathing several decades’ worth of secondhand smoke plus the freshly produced stuff, and a lap dance.  Success all around!

The theme for Sunday’s rodeo was “My eyes are a shade of red no eye drops can whiten.  I’m really craving French fries, but the thought of food makes me ill.  I barely have the strength to crack a beer and sit on my horse/sit in the stands.  At least it’s Sunday and we can go back to work and catch a break tomorrow.” 

I met a staff writer from the Nevada Rancher, got another story assignment, and met a neat braider/cowboy to add to my collection of People to Pester for Stories For My Cowboy Book.  Add a little work-related activity to a road trip and call the whole weekend a business expense.  I love being self-unemployed.

Like I said, the best stories aren’t printable.  As such, I highly recommend going to Winnemucca next March to acquire some unedited stories of your own.  If you’re there, look me up.  I’ll be the girl drinking cofee (wink wink) and laughing way too loudly.

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A Good Day To Cowboy

If I weren’t me, I would be jealous. 

I spent today day working at the Holland Ranch with Ty VN.  On the drive from Reed Station to the Holland headquarters, Ty and I visited about the Lord and what He’s been doing in our lives.  Ty and his family are settling into their new life at the Roseberry house, and they sold the rest of their meadow hay. 

To start the morning off, I rode my favorite caballo, the Van Normans’ home-raised 4-year-old roan stud, “JP Colonel’s Pistol.”  That horse is a day at the beach with a margarita in each hand.  He’s cowy, built to hold a Weatherly saddle tree, kind, and good-lookin’ to boot. 

The ground completely thawed today, so no equine ice skating!  Yay!  I ditched my wild rag before noon and wore my cowboy boots all day.  I did wear my super-duper Cabela’s Wind Sheer-lined 100% wool winter-can-go-fly-a-kite sweater, though, so that was partly why I was so warm.  I cheated 🙂

For the afternoon’s activities, I rode Ty’s 11-year-old bridle horse, “Rambler.”  He’s built like a pocket knife blade and plenty leggy, so a very comfy ride.  Sure was easy to smile trottin’ through a meadow ridin’ that particular sorrel. 

So the horseflesh was superb, but the cattle….oy, why must they be all black?  The first calf heifers stood in the gate.  Sniffed the gate post.  Turned around and bawled as they ran toward the icy river. 

Really?  Really.

Then someone shows up driving a tractor towing a flatbed trailer with remnants from the morning’s feeding, thinking he’d be helpful and chum the heifers down the lane ahead of us.  All he did was jam the whole bunch behind a bridge. 

God invented farmers so cowboys could practice their patience skills. 

But, I won’t let that ruin my overall evaluation of the day: divine.  Good horses, good company, good thaw, good Basque-o cookin’ at the end of the day….can’t beat that with a stick!

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Wintertime Smiles

I drove out to Reed Station and picked up my saddle and gear, bedroll, hats, and a few other odds and ends I left at Van Normans’ when I moved out in a snowstorm over a month ago.  I washed the bedding and put it back together, hung my bridles in the tack room here at Allie’s, and stashed my hats in my room. 

Being reunited with my gear reminds me of my real reason for living in town this winter.  My intention was to work on my writing career, establish contacts with editors so I can continue to write for pay after I go to cowboying in the spring.  I don’t want to get sidetracked by a full-time regular “career” and work in a bank or grocery store.  I’ve heard of people who want to stability, living in one location several consecutive years and working at the same job.  I can’t relate.

I’m excited to tie some knots with rawhide scraps Don gave me onto the old leather split reins I use to tie my bed together.  That’s the kind of non-modern girl I am, haha!  I have plans to acquire some sewing machine cord and make a pair of useful, if somewhat crude, reins for a bit I’m having repaired.  Pretty soon I’ll have TWO bridles….watch out!

My snaffle bit outfits need a little work, too.  One has a broken piece on the headstall (still useable) and one has a place on the split rein where a wood rat had himself a little snack.  My boots and saddles all need oiling….winter projects by the wood stove that make a person daydream plans for spring! 

I signed up as a ranching correspondent for the Elko Daily Free Press, so that will be fun.  I interviewed a couple great gals, Dylan Sponseller and Liz Brannan, yesterday for an upcoming article in the Nevada Rancher on women cowboys.  I learned a bunch, shared some laughs, and am really looking forward to writing this piece!

Today I am off to substitute teach middle school math.  More about the subbing biz later – boy, do I have some war stories!  But it’s always fun.

Enjoy the day, thanks for reading 🙂

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