The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Little Help

Our house on the San Felipe ranch was about a mile down a dirt road at mile post 13 of f 2-lane county road S-2. Before the State of California and Anza-Borrego National Park bought it, the home ranch was about 10,000 acres with nothing but mesquite, scrub, cactus and cattle in every direction as far as you could see. Near the barn was a set of sucker rod pens, a scale, squeeze chute and a ropin' arena. There were 2 fenced traps of about 40 acres each right around the house and beyond that just 1 cross fence separated the front and back pastures. San Felipe Creek cut a wide swath through the ranch flowing just below ground except in a couple places where you could see it above ground running slow and clear all year long. The home ranch was at the foot of Vulcan Moutain with 2 other pastures of about 3,000 acres each spread across the top and Southern slope. Near the mountain top, Kanaka Flats had broad, rolling pastures, heavy stands of majestic oak and pine trees with abundant spring and creek water. Black tail deer and wild turkey were thick up there and it was one of our favorite places to hunt. We cut Christmas trees on that mountain and split downed oak wood to heat our home. Kanaka rolled and flowed and dropped down to the trap and shipping pens at what we called the flats at Santa Ysabel, named after the tiny town made famous for bread baked and sold at Dudley's Bakery. As far as I'm concerned, Kanaka is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I spent many days up there getting steers off the neighboring reservation, cows and pairs back on it, cattle out of apple orchards and gathering to ship in early summer. Those are stories for another post, but they're Western and colorful and, while we did lose a guy for a couple hours one time, it's a wonder nobody got hurt. You try not to, but sometimes cattle get missed when you gather to ship. They can crawl off and die or they can just sort of go missing. One year a friend called to tell us he had spotted one of our steers on the reservation. The C & E Cattle Company brand is an octagon on the right hip and this steer stuck out anyway among the rank bunch of mostly maverick cattle on the reservation. He was slick, red and huge. He'd been on the reservation for the better part of a year and weighed every bit of 1000 pounds. He hadn't seen many people during his sabbatical and not only was he big, but he was wild. We brought him home, but he thought it was a bad plan. With 3 kids in our house, I went to the grocery store often. One day I came back from the store and heard a faint sound when I stepped out of my little white Jetta that just barely caught my attention. It sounded like it was coming from a long way off and it was persistent. I started looking around but there was nothing out of place except that far away sound. I looked in the direction it was coming from and then I saw him. My ex was a-horseback, not moving, beside a barbed wire fence way out in the pasture yelling h e l p over and over. I could tell he wasn't hurt so I took my groceries inside and went and saddled my horse. At the same time his son came home from school driving the old ranch truck back from the bus stop at the back of the ranch where the kids left it every morning about 3 miles away. On his way he must have seen his dad from the road because he passed by the house and went straight to him. After my ex got him back from the reservation he put the steer in the 5 foot sucker rod pen next to the barn. It took that steer no time to think better of it, clear the fence like a grand prix jumper and run off. His horse was still tied so my ex grabbed him and chased that steer about a half mile before he got a rope on him. When he did, they were running beside a barbed wire fence and the steer jumped that one too. When I got there, my ex was on one side of the fence dallied to a hot, really mad, 1000 pound steer on the other and then Bodie showed up with the truck. Sometimes ranching is just western. It's not romantic or pretty or what you might think. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can to care for the livstock and sometimes the livestock try to hurt you while you're doing it. That steer was really big and really mad and there was just no other way, so we tied him to the trailer hitch on the back of the truck and towed him all the way back to the house. He fought every step of the way and we had to rope a hind foot to keep him from bashing the truck. By the time he got back to the house all the fight was out of him and he was much happier in the pen. We lost him before round up, we got him back from the res, we got him back when he ran off, and that made us the winner.

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