Ranch Life: Urban Cowboys or just City Slickers?
On our recent trip to Texas we were able to take a little break from #vanlife and actually sleep in a house at my brother-in-law’s ranch.
We parked Wanda under a Live Oak tree and spent a little time on simple maintenance such as checking tire pressure and water levels, cleaning the gray water and toilet, and sweeping the floor. It also meant a little self-maintenance for us including laundry, hot showers, and brewed coffee.
Staying at the ranch always proves to be a time of renewal. There’s nothing like the wide-open views filling with color as the sun sets or glowing orange as it rises.
Then there’s the wildlife.
In the mornings we were greeted by the sound of wild turkeys in the brush line and raccoon paw prints on the ATV seats. Glad they can’t open van doors. And there were always armadillo sightings. Sure you can see plenty of them along the highways; we saw our first of the trip in Alabama but he was legs up. But here in South Texas, you get to see them digging and foraging. For the record, they are able to outrun our Chihuahua-mix Annie and one in particular actually bounced off a tree before finding its burrow! During a ride in the ATV we were treated to a herd of wild hogs. They are a menace to the ranchers and extremely fast! And, of course, White Tail deer everywhere.
Interacting with the cattle brought back childhood memories. My brother-in-law found a newborn, orphaned calf. As a kid, one of my chores before school was to bottle calves so I took it as a challenge to teach this little heifer how to suck from a bottle. Success! She was so cute. Annie would sniff her like she was a dog and I may have measured the van to see if there was enough space to bring her back home! After a couple days she would run behind all of us in the yard kicking her legs and swishing her tail. My sister was hesitant to name her because you know what happens once you name livestock—you can never get rid of them. That’s why they have an old cow on the ranch named Bunny.
We also experienced the full circle of life as an older cow went down and could not recover. We carried her cubes, hay, and water for a few days but it was inevitable she had to be put down. As the tractor carried her away to a suitable place (not the front yard of the house) the entire herd began to follow and moo as if they were sending her off. Someone remarked “I’m not here for the funeral; I just came for the food.” Likely very accurate!
On the ranch, I remembered many things I took for granted as a child.
As the sun went down with pink hues and rose again with a golden glow, it was time for us to get back in Wanda and continue wandering.