Ranch Diaries: On returning home from the city

Whenever I leave, I miss out on big events at the ranch.

 

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.

Sometime around 2 a.m. last night, I woke to the sound of something rummaging in the dog food bin. I threw back the sheet, pulled on my robe, and let Belle, our Border Collie, slip through the screen door. She took off in hot pursuit of whatever creature had been tempted by the temporary location of the pet food. My headlamp beam exposed kibble spilled onto the ground, but the only eyes reflecting back at me are Mooska the cat’s, and she’s not large enough to have caused the mess.

Belle trots up, wagging her stump tail. I wonder what she chased off. I right the plastic bin and snap the cover securely. I switch the headlamp off. I take a breath. The coolness is a relief after the unusually hot temperatures we’ve had since I returned from Vermont. Then I look up, and I’m stunned. The Milky Way stretches broad and dense as a frothy spring river, cutting a swath of light across the sky. A part of me wishes to never move from this spot.

  • MFA in writing in hand at my recent graduation.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Sam's spade bit.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Beachcombing Boston Harbor during my recent trip east.

    Laura Jean Schneider
  • Hoots holds a calf so Sam and Kiki can brand a straggler on the range.

  • Our partner Albert ropes at the last Triangle P branding of the year.

  • Sorting calves at the last branding.

  • Kiki moving heifers.

    Laura Jean Schneider

Movement. I’m smack in the middle of re-adjusting to the pace and rhythm of ranch life. A sixteen-day trip elsewhere means that when I get back, there’ve been changes, because life here doesn’t halt and wait for me to get home. In some ways I approach it all a bit awkwardly, feeling like a stranger on my homescape. Tinnie the milk cow finally had her calf, a big bull that our intern Kiki named Wiley. She’s now nursing him and two dogie calves and they seem to have worked out their mixed family dynamic without too much fuss. A few of our partners came to help finish branding the last few calves.  The house is freshly painted, inside and out. I pulled up a few of the potato vines and we enjoyed the incomparable taste of new potatoes for first dinner. It’s full-on fly season now. The rains we’ve been expecting haven’t come. Today is Kiki’s last day of work, and she’ll be headed back to Kentucky on the 15th. Sam’s nephew Owen is here to help until our next intern arrives near the end of August.

It’s hard to re-fit myself into these working parts that have moved smoothly in my absence. MFA in hand, I no longer have to divide my time between schoolwork and ranch work. It should feel liberating. While I’m looking forward to swapping desk chair for saddle seat, I feel in my absence that I’ve missed something special. One-on-one time with Kiki before she heads back to her last semester of college. The birth of a long-awaited calf. The last branding of the season, always a milestone. The bright magenta cholla blooms have withered, and there are two lovely teal, brown-speckled eggs in a curve-billed thrasher’s nest that was completed during my travels. The sunflowers in my garden have grown a foot, raising their heliotropic faces in a bright statement of joy.

Tucked in the quirkily illustrated text of a new book on untranslatable words, the Swedish “resfber” snagged my attention: “The restless beat of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation.” This exactly describes the tension I feel about my journey onward. The forward trajectory of the life around me is visible, and I must move with it.

High Country News Classifieds
  • TROUT UNLIMITED NORTH IDAHO FIELD COORDINATOR
    The field coordinator will work with TU members, other fishing organizations, community leaders, businesses and elected officials to build support for actions necessary to recover...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    New Mexico Land Conservancy (Santa Fe, NM), Stewardship Coordinator - Seeking highly motivated individual with excellent interpersonal skills to coordinate stewardship activities and support conservation...
  • 40-ACRE LAMBORN MOUNTAIN RETREAT, PAONIA, CO
    One-of-a-kind gem borders public lands/West Elk Wilderness. Privacy, creek, spring, irrigation, access. $270,000. Info at https://hcne.ws/LambornMT or call 970-683-0588 or 970-261-5928.
  • RECRUITMENT & HIRING MANAGER WITH WRA
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a dynamic, organized, and creative person with great people skills to be our Recruitment & Hiring Manager to recruit...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ATTORNEY (NM) AND POLICY ASSOCIATE/ANALYST (AZ & NV)
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is looking for a variety of positions around the West with our Clean Energy Program. Currently we are hiring a Staff...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HAWKWATCH INTERNATIONAL
    We are seeking an experienced dynamic leader for a growing conservation organization; $65,000-75,000 salary plus benefits; job description and apply at hawkwatch.org/executivedirector
  • FRIENDS OF THE INYO IS HIRING FOR THE SUMMER OF 2019
    Friends of the Inyo is excited to post our seasonal job offerings for the summer of 2019! We are hiring Trail Ambassadors, Stewardship Crew Members,...
  • DONOR RELATIONS MANAGER
    This position is responsible for the identification and qualification of major and planned gift prospects and assists in cultivating and soliciting donors through meetings, trips,...
  • STREAMFLOW RESTORATION IMPLEMENTATION LEAD (ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER 4)
    Keeping Washington Clean and Evergreen Protecting Washington State's environment for current and future generations is what we do every day at Ecology. We are a...
  • SENIOR STORMWATER ENGINEER (ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER 5)
    Keeping Washington Clean and Evergreen Our Water Quality Program is looking to hire a Senior Stormwater Engineer at our Headquarters building in Lacey, WA This...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, family farms, challenging politics, and big conservation opportunities? Do you have leadership abilities, experience with rural land protection,...
  • MAJOR GIFT OFFICER
    University of Wyoming Foundation Haub School of ENR, Biodiversity Institute, Environmental/Natural Resource Programs https://uwyo.taleo.net/careersection/00_ex/jobdetail.ftl?job=19001001&tz=GMT-06:00
  • MONTANA LAND STEWARD
    The Montana Land Steward develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans, and methods related to TNC's property interest portfolio in Montana. For more information and...
  • RAISER'S EDGE DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR
    POSITION DESCRIPTION: RAISER'S EDGE DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR The Raiser's Edge Database Administrator ensures the integrity and effectiveness of the member/donor database by developing systems and processes...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    We are hiring a Director of Development Full time, competitive pay and benefits. Location: Bozeman,MT Visit www.greateryellowstone.org/careers for details GYC is an equal opportunity employer
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANIKSU LAND TRUST
    Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • 3 POSITIONS: ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, AND FOREST PROGRAMS ASSOCIATE
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) in Durango and Silverton, CO is hiring 3 staff: Please visit mountainstudies.org/careers for Assoc Director, Dev and Engagement Director, and Forest...
  • CENTER FOR COLLABORATIVE CONSERVATION DIRECTOR, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
    The Center for Collaborative Conservation is hiring a full-time, permanent Director. Applications are due on March 31. Description can be found at http://jobs.colostate.edu/postings/65118 No phone...
  • CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER/DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a skilled non-profit leader to play a crucial role in protecting the greater Bears Ears landscape. Experience working with government...
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    Clean off, cool off & drink. Multiple spray patterns. Better than you imagine. Try it.