Windy Ridge Chronicles; Old Friends and Life Changes
- April 18, 2020
- Jan Swan Wood
Since my major life change and relocation that I spoke of in my opening story for the all new Windy Ridge Chronicles, I have been away from my horses and cattle. It’s been a hard, hard thing to become accustomed to. Last week I went to where my horses are living for now. I hadn’t seen any of them since August. It’s hard to imagine that myself, but it’s a long way over to them and it’s not really easy to get to see them.
I had a dental appointment for the two older mares. Josie is 22 and Callie is 21. Quite the old ladies. When I let myself into the corral, all the horses there knew me, but my three friends sought me out immediately, actually mobbing me. Josie came from behind, nuzzling the back of my neck and head. Callie did a frontal attack, standing in the way so I had to stop. She turned her head back to me as she stood broadside in front of me. My big friend, Rush, came from my right. He’s the boss horse, but didn’t herd them away. I petted everyone thoroughly, rubbing necks and foreheads as I got inspected from head to knee by Rush. He sniffed and pushed with his nose, while Callie and Josie did the same. I was wearing my “go to the vet clinic” clothes, not my chore clothes that would have had any crumbs of cake in the pockets, so I know they were simply checking me over after such a long absence. They were practically asking “Where’ve you been?” It melted my heart.
I’ve had to steel myself against the emptiness of not having them with me. I know they’re taken good care of where they are and that is a comfort. But, knowing that they actually miss me is both good and bad. I’ve never in my life not had saddle horses with me. Sometimes they were company horses, but still “my” horses. They’ve just always been a part of me and my life, of who I was.
My cows are a big problem for me too. They are also in a place where they’re taken good care of. But, again, I’ve had them with me for nearly every day of my life since 1983. I raised them, chose the replacement heifers, taught them to be worked, watched them all with their first calf, cared for them through drought and blizzard, and not one day of my life did I wish I didn’t have that responsibility. I’m a cow person clear to the core of my being. It’s a calling that I was given I believe. This winter I got a call from the folks who I am running them with. He had to tell me that cow #63 had gotten on her back and died. I knew her instantly. Her face, profile, who her mother and sire were, and how old she was. I didn’t have to look in my little book for all that information. I knew her. Just like I know my dog or cat or a human friend. I knew her. I knew she had a gentle disposition and was a great mother who trusted me with her newborn calf when I tagged it. She was easy to handle, horseback or afoot, sorted nice, and had never been a problem in her life. A good cow who died too young. Without me there. I don’t second guess my decision to pasture them out, as I really didn’t have a single other choice. Also, I know she could have died in my care as well. They have. It’s not easy either way.
So, the transition is continuing. I have adjusted somewhat to the new life I have. But, I hope and pray that God will reunite me with my horses and cows before long. That will be a day of celebration, for sure, when we’re all together in one place again.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....