I’m peeling sweat soaked Levi’s off at the end of day,”Honey why are your socks always turned inside-out?” Looking out at sun scorched pastures, horses and cattle crowded under the scant shade of post oaks and mesquites, it’s hard to believe it’s October.
Places up north are already gettin’ snow, yet down here in Gulf Coast Texas both temperature and humidity are in the nineties. Last week we found a cool day with the high only ninety one, so we penned a herd, and vaccinated, tagged and weaned forty nine calves. In the afternoon we shaded-up just like the cattle. When the dogs barked, the next thing we saw was a rising plume of caliche dust as the UPS truck came driving up the lane.
The creek has long since dried up and we’re starting to worry that we might have to haul water to the cows. The one good thing is that, due to low cattle prices, we’re a bit understocked, so the grass in the Hilliard bottom is dry and strong feed.
Oh, we’re cryin’ for a Norther, for the rain and relief from the heat. But we know that some day it will come roaring down from the hills, and we’ll see the wedges of sandhill cranes and geese, and we’ll stand out in the blessed cold rain. Meanwhile,let’s get a cup of coffee and go out and sit on the porch and watch the sun come up.
Summer is over and Fall is here. We here in Texas are wishing and praying for some rain and cooler weather. Our pastures are parched, and oaks are shedding leaves. We escaped to the mountains twice this summer.
We hauled some Peruvian horses to the Davis Mountains of far west Texas, to enjoy the “coolest fourth in Texas!” Then we flew to Virginia to help put on the Andalusian horse show in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Returning to the Gulf coast we found our garden burnt up, horses sweating as they stood still in the field, and cattle “shading up” by mid morning. But soon we will see fall rains and cooler temperatures. We are already making plans for our first fall roundup.
Seeing these horse activities this summer has brought an awareness to my mind that over the past decade participation has steadily and alarmingly declined. In past years the Ft. Davis parade was a display of riders from the large ranches, as well as numerous chuck wagons and other horse drawn conveyances. Now there are cars, trucks, cycles and a sprinkling of horses.
The Eastern region Andalusian show suffers from decreased participation as well. Once upon a time attending that show the spectator was treated to scores of Andalusian and Lusitano horses, and performances that rivaled the royal schools of Europe!
So, I’m asking myself, what is the reason for this decline in equestrian activities? Is it that the machines have taken over? Have new generations lost the nostalgia for the horse culture that was our grandparents’? Has urbanization made middle class horse ownership prohibitively expensive?
In any event, here on the Twin Creeks ranch we save gas and diesel by daily checking our herds and fences horseback. We will be penning our cattle with a team of cowboys and cowgirls mounted on everything from ponies to Peruvian horses, Andalusians, Quarter Horses, and Crossbreds. Then, sorting, roping and dragging to the branding fires will be horseback as well. Moreover, our horses are our therapists, as we grow frustrated with the pace of modern life, we turn to them to bring us back to “Earth Speed!”