Ranch Diaries: How to have a clear head and rested heart

It’s difficult to prioritize mental and emotional health in ranching, but vital to do so.

 

Ranch Diaries is an hcn.org series highlighting the experiences of Laura Jean Schneider, who gives us a peek into daily life during the first two years of Triangle P Cattle Company, a new LLC in southcentral New Mexico. Installments are every other Tuesday.

I’d been counting on this camping trip for months. It bolstered me through busy weekends, the stress of presenting my graduate lecture, the pressure to throw a nice heel trap at branding: In late July, I would head to the mountains with a bunch of other women for three days of relaxation.

As this past weekend arrived, however, I wavered. Smack in the middle of finishing up the house remodel project, I would be leaving in the midst of touch-up painting, hanging cabinets, setting countertops, and cutting and installing trim. It’s been parched here on the reservation too, and we’ve been moving cattle around in order to make sure they have sufficient water. I felt guilty that I’d just been gone for a few weeks — even if that was less vacation and more necessity. I decided to stick with my plan. I needed a surge of feminine energy. I needed to connect to nature without the behinds of cattle in front of me. I needed to meet new faces, grow my New Mexico connections and keep working on building an intentional community.

  • Julia Sumner
  • Sasha Ryerson
  • Laura Jean Schneider
  • Laura Jean Schneider
  • Laura Jean Schneider
  • Laura Jean Schneider

But a few days before our departure date, the cancellations started. Moving cross-country. New job. Change of plans. Our count dwindled from eighteen to three, with a fourth woman and her seven-month-old daughter joining us Saturday night. Hearts sagged, but we were determined. The three of us met at the Manzano Mountain Campground, and tried not to be awkward. I’d discovered Julia on Instagram after meeting her younger sister in California this spring. Turned out we have the same birthday, and the same two teeth capped. Turned out that Sasha, my husband’s niece from Santa Fe, and Julia, were both in realty.

Turned out that the three us felt more like sisters than anything.

We settled around the shaded picnic table and spread out a tablecloth. I’d felt embarrassed bringing it, but had to wonder why when it was enthusiastically welcomed. With mismatched cups and plates and plasticware, we investigated Brie and goat cheese, grapes and olives. We fished pickled radishes from the slick glass jar with fingers stained pink. We took a walk at dusk, enjoying the cool. I rolled out my bedroll under the stars and hardly slept in the bright light of the moon.

Sasha made scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast as we planned our day. We turned our adventures into a photo shoot for Milestone Leather, modeling Julia’s handmade leather bags. We wandered among the Quarai ruins, marveling at the height of the three-hundred-year-old stonewalls. After a lovely drive in the wrong direction, three park rangers directed us to the local swimming hole in the town of Manzano. We swam in the pond by giant cottonwoods before feasting on grassfed beef burgers with onions caramelized in honey, goat cheese, and pickled radishes. We spit lemon seeds from a huge green salad piled with fresh vegetables and dressed with citrus and olive oil. Abundant. Content. Fed, in body and spirit.

As we packed up our site on Sunday afternoon, raindrops sprinkled down. I considered them a good omen. It’s difficult to prioritize one’s mental and emotional health in ranching, but it’s vital to do so. After having these few sweet days without any pressures, I’ll be tackling the rest of the house painting, the gardening, and the moving-in process with a clearer head and a rested heart.

I’ll be ready to settle into our new home.

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • COLORADO PROGRAM MANAGER
    The National Parks Conservation Association, the leading non-profit conservation organization protecting Americas national parks, seeks a Program Manager for its Colorado Field Office located in...
  • CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER PLANNING WITH WRA'S HEALTHY RIVERS PROGRAM
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED BIGHORN RIVER BASIN PROJECT MANAGER
    The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • NON-PROFIT OPERATIONS MANAGER
    One of the most renowned community-based collaboratives in the country seeks full-time Operations Manager to oversee administrative, financial, fund development, and board development duties. BS/BA...
  • RUSTIC HORSE PROPERTY
    in NM. 23 acres, off the grid, rustic cabin, organic gardens, fruit trees, fenced, call 505-204-8432 evenings.
  • DIRECTOR OF VISITOR SERVICES & BOOKSTORE OPERATIONS
    The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • SOLAR POWERED HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
    1800 sf home on 4.12 acres surrounded by Natl Forest and recreational opportunities in a beautiful area (Happy Valley) between Torrey and Boulder. [email protected], www.bouldermoutainreality/properties/grover/off-the-grid-in-happy-valley,...
  • 40 ACRE ORGANIC FARM
    potential fruit/hay with house, Hotchkiss, CO, Scott Ellis, 970-420-0472, [email protected]
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details: