Wagon Camp Visit
- October 17, 2017
- Jolyn Young
Here at the O RO Ranch in northern Arizona, it’s fall time. Wait, it’s fall time everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. I mean that since it’s fall time, it’s also fall wagon time here at the ROs.
Yikes. That was an unexpectedly difficult thought to express. The ROs is one of the last few ranches in America that pulls a wagon in the fall to clean-up brand, wean calves and cull cattle. Camping out in tipis, eating out of a chuckwagon and roping horses each morning isn’t just a nod to tradition, though. The ranch is located in rough, mountainous canyon country covered with cactus, rocks, steep washes and primitive roads.
My husband, Jim, has been camped out with the rest of the crew for 5 weeks now, coming home every 2 weeks for a couple days off. He doesn’t need to tell me when he’s coming home, because I can always smell him from a mile away. Just kidding! It’s more like two miles. Seriously, these cowboys get a little rank after 2 weeks of dry camping and sweating in the dirt all day. I greet him with a big hug while trying to not actually touch his body, then tell him I love him and will talk to him after he showers.
Recently, the cowboys were camped at Bear Creek, which is only (that’s a relative term out here) about an hour away from our house at the Triangle N Camp. The kids and I missed Daddy too much, so we piled into my Jeep and took a day trip to the wagon camp after they had been there about 5 days – you know, before the smell got too bad.
At first, 2-year-old Milo was too bashful to interact with the cowboys. He just stood near the cook wagon, fiddling with his hands and observing the cowboys.
Here’s the whole setup. Hirshel, the wagon cook, is pictured beneath the fly setting plates out for lunch. He cooks three meals a day in Dutch ovens, using a set of propane burners and an open fire to cook and heat wash water for dishes. He sleeps in a hammock in the bed of the pickup, making this a true bed and breakfast.
Hirshel never has to yell “Chuck!” twice, because this crew works hard and is ready to fill their plates when a meal is ready.
After lunch (Hirshel was a gracious host and fixed enough food so me and the kids could grab a plate, too), Grace relaxed on her dad’s lap. She used his radio to talk to her cowboy buddy Chase, and she felt pretty cool with her very own walkie-talkie. Occasionally, she even pressed the right button so that it actually worked.
Milo loved drinking Kool-Aid from his dad’s giant coffee mug. Forget what you heard about cowboys and whiskey – real cowboys drink Kool-Aid. Fact.
Jim has had this tipi for many years, and with the proper coating of waterproof treatment it keeps out the rain so he can have a dry night’s sleep. This year, he put his bedroll on a cot, and he says it is the best way to get a good night’s rest out in the bushes. He also has a footlocker full of clothes, books, Copenhagen, Jolly Rancher hard candies and other necessary supplies. I would say there’s a picture of his loving wife in there, but I’m not confident enough to pit myself against his bag of Jolly Ranchers.
His loving daughter was temporarily in the tipi, though. Why is her face so red? Because the child only stopped running around camp long enough to pose for this picture.
Grace ran back and forth from Chase’s tipi to Jim’s, terrorizing the crew and rocking her walkie-talkie. She was pretty proud when she came strutting back wearing Chase’s hat.
She was almost as proud as her little brother when he was riding on his daddy’s shoulders while wearing his daddy’s hat.
Why are these kids so happy to be wearing other people’s hats? They make it look so fun, I kind of want to swipe someone’s hat now.
Until next time (and you better hold onto your hat),
The Desolate Ranch Wife
About Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....