Happiness is having what we call “always friends” come by, come back for a visit. Such was the case recently when our long- ago neighbors showed up to talk about our fun old times here when they lived just up the road from or ranch headquarters.
Pat, now almost 90, remembers things and events in our lives far better than I do, I quickly discovered. Her husband, “Doc” (a family name, only), could run any piece of machinery that showed up in the valley. In his younger days, he had been in charge of a big paving company in Texas before semi-retiring here to be the caretaker of the small ranch just up the road.
No matter how cold it got, how deep the snow was, or how bad current cattle prices were, Doc always said there was a sure better day coming, and it just might be tomorrow.
He never became discouraged, no matter how big a break might be in a water line (a corral full of about-to-be-shipped calves better have lots of fresh, running water in the tanks there) to a broken hydraulic line on a big bulldozer (this calamity just sprayed oil all over everything and everyone who was nearby). We heard Doc say many times, “I’ve never seen it looking better,” when we thought the end of this current disaster would never be possible.
Doc and Pat’s kids have always been nearby and at their side when needed. Pat told us a story about the fall she took in her laundry room recently. She fell backwards more-or-less in front of her washing machine. She knew she couldn’t get up by herself, and that gadget our age group is supposed to wear, that “Warning, I need help” buzzer, wasn’t working.
She knew her son was working out in the yard, so she found a stick nearby and started beating on the front of the washing machine to get his attention. It worked after a few minutes and he finally appeared in the doorway.
The first words out of his mouth were, “What’s wrong with the washing machine?” Pat calmly said, “Nothing, kid. This time it is me. I need some help getting back on my feet.” Yes, Doc trained his kids to be sensible, no matter what, obviously.
Doc and my big boss, Jim, never ever threw anything away, and both of them could fix just about anything that broke.
Both of them wore boots that they had nailed a piece of leather or a piece off an old tire on to the sole of. (I heard Jim say more than once how hard it was to break in a new pair of boots, and besides, there was a lot of wear left in that ragged pair he had on).
And neither one of them ever met a horse they really didn’t like, although sometimes they might give up and trade an ornery one off. I also know neither of them ever would admit to liking the current, the present needed-to-be-milked cow, twice a day, but the both of them loved everything Pat and I cooked, baked with all of that fresh milk and cream.
Pat and I agree that living almost all of our lives on a ranch has given us a base, a lot of respect, and just plain awe of the fun (and the heartbreaks) of life as we have lived it.
And we both think some of our new-fangled politicians just might have a different and more sensible solution to our current problems if they had to milk a cow and pitch some hay out to hungry critters every morning before going to work.
How about that, fellers?
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563..