Like several bloggers my upbringing involved ranching and
horses. My father worked many different jobs but always made money on the side
shoeing horses. I was riding a horse by myself before my fourth birthday. By the
time I was in high school my parent had a small ranch but both had “town jobs”.
One guess as to who did 65% of the ranch work.
The best rider I ever saw was my father. He didn’t become
part of the horse; the horse became an extension of him. The second best rider
I ever saw is my sister. By age 13 she was a certified riding instructor. While
I could ride any horse, I was never fond of them. I sat a horse like a sack of
potatoes tied to the saddle horn.
“Your cows are out”, is one call no rancher wants to hear. A
couple working for the same organization paid for their ranch “hobby” by
selling cars. One night they rolled their pickup and were laid up for a few
days. At the end of the month I drove their “wash out” checks to them. While I
was there, they got that call.
After trying to herd the cows back in with vehicles, I went
and saddled one of their horses then rounded up the cows. Afterwards, while
enjoying an adult beverage, they started ragging me about my horsemanship.
“Let me ask you one question”, I said. “Are your fucking
My mother was fond of saying the two glamorous cowboy
occupations were fixing fence and bucking hay bales. When I went in the Army, I
hoped to do something fun like driving a tank or shooting a cannon. Instead,
the Army made me a combat engineer stringing barbed wire and stacking sandbags.
Not complaining. A cousin joined the Navy to see the world
and spent all of his post training on Adak Island.
Every summer from the time I turned 11 I worked hay fields
near Coalmont, CO (North Park at the East side of Buffalo Pass). A big kid, I
worked behind the bailer. Two planks side by side with a slot between would be
pulled and six bales would be stacked. Then a long crowbar would be rammed into
the ground and the bales would “slip” off. The bailer would spit out 2,200 to
2,500 120 lb wire tied bales a day. Old repurposed buck rakes would pick up the
small stacks and take them to the main stacks.
Being ranch raised does equip you for life. Whatever
situation faces you, you cannot just walk away. You learn to find solutions.
The solutions may not be the best, but are better than none. You learn to turn
wrenches and operate shop machines. I was never taught how to weld but I can,
and have, done a lot of welding.
A small example of finding a solution occurred while I was
managing my primary employer’s skylight company subsidiary. A job called for
polycarbonate instead of acrylic and our vacuum tanks wouldn’t pull the sheets
into uniform shapes. Our foreman and engineer were having a big confab as to
how to solve the problem. I went into the store room, picked out a electrical
box, placed it over the vacuum port, and viola!
Problem solved. The vacuum draw was slowed down enough for the
polycarbonate to form uniformly.
YouTube videos of off road recoveries I find interesting.
Growing up, getting things “unstuck” was frequently needed. Watching the pros
you see different techniques, many decided on the spot.
Serving as a combat engineer was interesting. You easily
spotted the farm/ranch/construction trades raised from the city raised soldiers
as we tackled various problems. Mud! Damn I hate the stuff. We were a float
bridge company and where you have rivers you have mud. When you get a TD18
buried, you know it is really bad.
So here is a salute to all, men and women, who grew up
A question. Do Sargents still get pissed at troopers wearing Air Force mittens?