Episode 2 - July 6

Things here in Montana are going swell. We just received a shipment of 100 pairs of Black Angus Cattle (100 babies and 100 mammas.  Since our land is not certified organic (the process takes years), our White Park Cattle dwell on land that is certified organic about 50 miles from here. In order that we can correctly and safely manage our pasture land, we lease out ranch land to this guy who has all these cattle and not enough grazing land in the summer. So I will finally get the ranch to rope me some calf and learn how to move cattle on horseback, which needs to be done every 5-7 days so that all the land can be evenly grazed. I'll let you all know how that goes, but I have a feeling that I'm going to be really good at lassoing.

Other than that, I recently attended my first full-on western-style rodeo, and it was right interesting. I thought it was going to be a little more disturbing than it actually was, but in reality it was only 60 percent disturbing instead of the expected 100. The highlight for me was the barrel racing in which women (and women only, since they don't typically participate in the excessively cruel events) race their rides around barrels in a clover pattern to classic rock hits. It looked like a lot of fun and I'm pretty sure that I'll be taking up rodeo riding when I leave these parts. Another interesting event was when they tied 10-dollar bills around a bunch of calves' tails and let the little cows loose in the arena with a bunch of little kiddies chasing them around trying to grab the money. It was hard to know what happened exactly—all I saw was dust and piles of kids upon calves upon kids, a few little hands in the air trying to hold on to their well-earned money, other hands trying to grab the money out of the first hands, and calves running amok with wild looks in their eyes. Just another day in Montana.

Soon, I will get a chance to work with the Suffolk Punch Horses learning how to harness and drive the wagon. All the haying here is done with these horses—no tractors whatsoever—and hopefully we will all get a chance to drive a bit. I am also planning to get the ball rolling on putting up solar panels here. For all the sustainability these people preach, there is little being done about renewable energy, so I got the okay from the boss to do a bit of research and see if we can't harness the good ol' sun's energy for a good cause. I'll let you all know how it goes.

We are also all keeping our fingers, toes, knees, and anything else that can be crossed crossed in hopes that we can avoid the fires this year. There hasn't been a fire in these parts for years, and everyone is saying that this might be the year. We had more rain than usual in the beginning of June, but now we are back to hot and dry as hell. Luckily, we do have our own personal fire truck, but it would be a damn shame if we have to use it.

On one last note, I left the ranch to see my friends Kathleen, Maryanne, and their new friend Ad on their bike trip across America. Unfortunately, the meeting took place in the usually great land of Yellowstone, which was terribly overrun with tourists and their terribly huge RVs that they had no problem stopping in the middle of the road causing traffic jams a mile long every time an elk walked by. Despite the horror of tourist season, it was wonderful to see them and they are having an amazing time. We camped out in a little campsite in the park and ate wieners and s'mores. It was a lovely time altogether.

Hope all is well in the homelands and I'll be in touch soon.


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