I watched the Cowboy ride away on the 4 wheeler and wondered how long it would be till I saw him again. My 3 year old munchkin was pointing out how messy the old cabin was as she stood in her blue and white socks that looked like ballerina slippers. Of all days to forget a pair of shoes, it just had to be today. We were cold and alone, now what?
We left the house that morning at about 6 am. It was still dark outside and only a bit nippy. I went to grab my coat and the Cowboy informed me that it wasn’t cold. I did anyway. I woke up the munchkin, wrapped her in blankets and took her straight to the truck. After a quick buckle-up, she was soon bundled back up in her blankies and snug as a bug. There was no going back to sleep for her once I told her we were going hunting for Antelope. She has been talking about it for weeks, she even asked for her own (pink) gun.
Within 2 hours of leaving the house, we were up on the mountain, into our hunting area and we were loading up a doe onto the truck. It also happens to be bird season in our same area, so the Cowboy was now in search of Prairie Chickens. We drove around some more till he came to a draw where he’d seen several hanging out. He never forgets where all the wild game are when he’s out gathering cows or in search of cows. I think it’s a boy thing because I only have this sense every once in a while.
He zipped off on the 4-wheeler in search of the mighty Sage Grouse (better known as the prairie chicken). He soon returned with one in hand. We then drove around some more and decided to head into cow camp and make some coffee, since the Cowboy was out already. On our way there something terrible happened. The transmission on one of the ranch trucks went completely out. Hmmmm, ok great! Sagebrush to the left and right, bluffs and buttes in the distance, dirt road in the middle, and the nearest “town” miles away where nothing really opens till about noon.
I calmly suggested to a very aggravated Cowboy that he take the munchkin and I the rest of the way into cow camp on the 4 wheeler, and then he head to town to call for help. A brisk couple of miles on the 4 wheeler later, all the while the munchkin was wrapped in blankies and told me, “this is fun mommy”, we pulled into cow camp. Funny how oblivious kids are to some things. I gave my coat to the Cowboy and he headed out.
I looked around and there were only big pieces of wood that were dry, nothing to actually start a fire. So with the munchkin on my back we headed to find something, anything small, dry and flammable. Finally, I found the mother lode hidden under the over a hundred year old barn’s petticoats. Pieces of wooden shingles and various other pieces of wood were all safe and dry. You just had dig a little through all the years of livestock “leavings”, but it all burned the same.
I headed back to the cabin with an armload of wood and a monkey on my back while it started to sprinkle on us. I quickly got the fire started without many problems at all. The bigger pieces weren’t taking off quite like I was hoping, so a trip back to the barn was in order. I settled the munchkin in a chair and she was happily playing games on my phone (that had not an ounce of reception, but by George you could still play games). By this time, it was raining, so I threw a blanket around me to keep warm and dry for the walk (no there’s no running with this belly) to the barn.
Before I made the trek to the barn, I grabbed the bag that went to the fold up chairs in the cabin so I could carry more wood at once. I was quickly picking up wood and muttering to myself that I’d better not get this thing full only to find the Cowboy coming over the hill to our rescue. He didn’t show up early, it would be a few hours till I’d see him again. Back to the cabin I went but by now it was pouring rain and all I could think was “poor Cowboy”. He was speeding down the road on a 4 wheeler in the pouring rain, I’m talking buckets here, in a coat that had no buttons, was only made of one layer of fleece material, and the ugliest red and black colors made to look like a terrible knock off of a Navajo blanket.
In the meantime, the munchkin and I were toasty warm in a hand chinked, mouse infested, 10x15 (if that), hundred year old cabin. Even in the places that you could see daylight, it was still nice and toasty with my roaring fire. I didn’t care if I was there for an hour or half the day, I was stoking that fire!
When the Cowboy pulled up in a different ranch truck, the munchkin and I had just finished an apple and no one jumped up to greet him. I saw him coming down the hill, but didn’t want to leave my cozy spot by the fire. He walked in, found us cozy and immediately walked over to warm himself by the fire. He then confessed that it was a bit of a letdown to find us doing so well. He was thinking that we’d be in a state of unrest and rush out to greet him, the conquering hero come to our rescue. He even said, “There I was feeling guilty about sitting in the warm restaurant waiting for J to get here with the other ranch truck, having left my girls to fend for themselves.”
I was quite proud of my survival (yeah because it was really life and death, right? HA) skills to keep the munchkin and I safe and sound. I wasn’t about to admit to him that it was partly his fault. All these years on the ranch, he’d taught me to be smart, get things done because no one was going to do it for you, and there were lives depending on you to not give up. I just kept thinking how others might have freaked out in such a situation, and that made me happy. Twisted, I know. That’s the difference between those that think they can handle going from city girl to ranch wife and those of us that actually do.
Moral of the story? Well I don’t think there is one. Just inner justification and another story to tell my kids and grandkids. =)