Now you are asking your self what that title has to do with wood working, right? Maybe it doesn’t but it may have to do with the mental health of the wood worker. I’ve spent a lot of my life outdoors and now I’m confined to a very small area in the shop. I seldom pass up a chance to return to my “Real” world and spend some time.
A neighbor called up and asked my help getting his cows to fall pasture. Kirk owns a small ranch outside of town. His wife works as a teacher and administrater for our school system. She does a great job and we really appreciate her efforts. Of course, I told Kirk I’d be there. This was a trail drive to Parsnip Peak, about 10 miles from the house, all the way on Kirk’s ranch. We saddled up at about 7:30. We live on the far western side of the Mountain Time Zone so please forgive the late start. We needed to be able to see. Bob Wrotten and Pat showed up to help us sort. Bob is one of our local deputy sherrifs and a local rancher as well. He also rides a saddle he won at the Jordan Valley Big Loop in 1983. He had 100 head of cows going with us and Kirk had about 200. It was a partly cloudy day, cool so the cows would travel along easy. It had rained on Monday so there was no dust for the first time since May. It never really warmed up but the sun did come out. Bob and Pat got us started on the trail and then after about 2 miles left us to our own devices. When you are out on the range in our country there is real silence. Pretty soon Kirk and I had the cows strung out over about 3/4 of mile and traveling a long about right. It felt good to be sitting on my top horse out in the real world. The only sounds were horseshoes on rocks and the rattling dewclaws of the cows. Kirk and I would line the cows out then get together at the back of the herd and visit for a while until we needed to do some more work. This was the first time I’d gotten to ride since the first of July. My leg is still not good but is some what better.
Back at the ranch, while Bob Wrotten and I were rideing across a meadow we got in to a conversation that is the reason I blogged this. He is now in law enforcement and I live in my shop yet to both of us our identity is here; sitting on a horse working cattle. Kirk drove log truck for 20 years so that now he can raise cattle. It seems that no matter what we do our self-perception is tied to horses, cattle and the range that is our home. You might perceive me as a craftsman but in my own mind I will always be a man on horseback tending and working cattle. Our converstion turned to the young people of today. Kirk has three sons; one grown, one in college and one in high school. None of these young men suffers from an identy crisis, they know where they are going. All have had the benefit of growing up working with their father and seeing what they have accomplished at the end of the day.
Kirk and I got the cows on water and rode back to the truck visiting along as men will do. Bob had brought my truck and trailer out part way so we wouldn’t have to ride all the way back. The trail was about 10 miles but when you are trailing cows you ride about twice that distance pointing them the right way. We got to the truck a little past 4:00. By the time we got the horses taken care of and something to eat it was 6:00. I still had to make a 60 mile round trip to take my horse back to pasture. It was a great day sitting on a good horse in my reality. Now I must go to the shop and work. Perhaps a little calmer for the time I spent yesterday.
-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon