Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cooking Column By: Susan Metcalf from the Western Ag Reporter

   I love it when my stories strike a chord with readers who let me know that they have been there and done that also, and they totally relate. Such was the case after my last story about horse whispering. I found this e-mail in my inbox from Karen Searle, the boss lady of Montana Bunkhouses, the co-op that we belong to for providers of ranch vacation experiences. Karen's story tickled my funny bone so much that I have to share it! Karen wrote:

Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt
  Just read your column, and I have to tell you about my first experience in the "horse whisperer world."   My husband Jesse and I had been weekend observers at our first Ray Hunt Clinic. It looked pretty darn straight forward. It was all about the flag. That was back in the day, thirty-some years ago, when we were experts after having seen it only once.  

   I had a three year old filly that was broke to load in the trailer, and that was about the size of it. Jesse's father had been pretty sick that previous summer, and we'd hauled our horses back and forth to the ranch in Ennis so many times that all we had to do was open the door so they could load themselves. We always thought the next weekend was going to be when we would have time to do some ground work on the filly.  It never happened.

    It was a few days before we were going to help trail cow/calf pairs to the mountains that we realized the time had come.  It was a long day's trail from the ranch on the Madison River up Indian Creek to summer grazing. Most years this happened the last week of July because the poison was too bad to go earlier. The cows knew the routine--all we had to do was ride along behind them to keep them moving. Sure, ya, you betcha.

Tom Dorrance Clinic
    Now back to the natural horsemanship story. Jesse assured me that, after watching Ray, he knew how to flag. All I had to do was get on, and hang on, and he would do the rest. His plan was, "We'll flag this mare, and get her ready so you can ride her on the cattle drive."  

    We managed to get the saddle cinched up without much bucking, and we took that as a good sign. Then I took the halter rope in my hand, he steadied the mare, and I swung up.  

    The minute my seat hit the saddle, Jesse slapped the flag on her rump and we were off and running. Running really fast round and round the round pen.  Whoa--easy now. He plopped the flag in front of her, and she executed a roll back.  "That was nice," he said as he bumped her back into a lope going the other direction. We repeated this again and again. When I told him I was ready to get off, he did not answer. It seems he was deep in thought trying to remember how Ray got the horses to stop and square up without getting into trouble. The longer he took to ponder this, the madder I got. (I'll just tell you right now, it was not the reason we divorced, but on the other hand, it did nothing to cement the relationship either.) 

    Retelling the story later, he confessed that he was a little afraid of what was going to happen next.  He was not so much afraid of what was going to happen to me, but rather what was going to happen to him. He thought I was probably going to kill him whenever I finally got down, and so maybe if he slowed things down to a trot, I'd have a chance to cool off. 

Karen Stepping up for the first ride
   Next day we trailered to the ranch, started the cows up the canyon, and Lord only knows why I agreed to ride in to Cow Camp on my one-day wonder. She never did buck that day, but it was a nerve wracking first ride outside . . . so much for "feel, timing, and balance!" 

    We could not afford the tuition to ride in Ray's clinics, but we found out that sponsors of the clinic could ride free.  So year after year we had the privilege of sponsoring clinics in our part of the country and honing our skills by riding with Ray Hunt and then Tom Dorrance.  One of the riders in a clinic said something that stuck with me. The rate should be $1 for the first clinic, $100 for the second clinic, and $1000 for the third clinic.  I say, "Amen, because you just can't soak it up the first time you see it.

Trailing cows to cow camp
    Thanks to you Susan, for prompting me to think back to the good old days.  Oh my gosh, we would have been horrified to have realized they were the good ole days. We were just trying to get ends to meet in the middle. Finances aside, they were years filled with adventure and passion. The saga continues, as I've become what you'd call a life-long student of the horse doing the work I was meant to do promoting working ranch vacations.  

    By the way, I'm madly in love with my little roan mare Foxy that we bought from you. I remember when you and I watched my daughter put the first ride on her in your round pen …..without anyone flagging her into a frenzy!

     Karen sent a recipe for removing the skunk smell from pets. Thanks for the recipe and the great story, Karen!  

Recipe for making alkaline hydrogen peroxide (to get the skunk smell off your pets)
 Mix together:
1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (you should always keep a couple of bottles on hand)
1/4 C. baking soda
1 t. liquid dish washing soap
   Rub the mixture through the dog's fur, but don't leave it on too long (peroxide can bleach hair). Rinse thoroughly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Make-A-Wish fulfilled one Missouri boy’s Montana dream.

Throughout Hayden’s three-year bout with cancer, the Missouri Make-A-Wish chapter made repeated offers to grant Hayden a wish. The family held off (in his mother Katie Schreiman’s words,) “wanting to make sure he was healthy enough they did not have to worry about anything.”

Hayden and his family live near Waverly, Missouri, where his father is a 6th corn and soybeans along with some wheat and hay. Hayden was only 15 months old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Now he is eight years old and has an older sister and a younger brother.

Katie (Hayden's mother) explained to Michael Wright [a reporter for the Big Timber Pioneer Newspaper] that Hayden is “an outside, down-in-the-dirt country boy. He turned down swimming with the dolphins, and said no to a trip to Disneyland. His wish was to visit a working ranch!” The Missouri chapter reached out to Montana’s Make-A-Wish chapter and through MONTANA BUNKHOUSES WORKING RANCH VACATIONS LLC the Schreimans were matched up with the Lower Deer Creek Ranch, run by Remi and Susan Metcalf.

There were many firsts for the whole family starting with the trip itself. The more than 1,300 mile journey was the farthest any of them had ever been from Missouri. When they arrived in Big Timber, it was busy.

• They fished a pond at the Goeddel Ranch, where Hayden caught a 9-pound rainbow trout.
• The Grand Hotel gave the family a dinner.
• Hayden got a helicopter ride from Will Hogan, who flies for Heli-Works, a Helena based company. And Bob Burch let all of them pile into his jet boat.
• Metcalf drove them to Big Timber Canyon, and Natural Bridge, and all the way through Yellowstone National Park where they saw a grizzly bear at a safe distance.

What the kids most enjoyed happened right at the Metcalf Ranch, however. Hayden said his favorite
part of the trip was riding “horseys.” He actually got so he was riding really well, Metcalf said. “It’s like it is in his blood or something,” said his mother Katie. They played in the creek too, and got so familiar with Susan and Remi that they started calling them “grandma” and “uncle.”

 “They’ve treated us like family since we’ve been here,” Hayden’s father Michael said. “We appreciate everything everybody’s done for us.” Hayden’s mother Katie called it “the final chapter of the family’s struggle with cancer—the light at the end of the tunnel.” Looking out at the majestic Crazy Mountains, Katie continued, “This is the blessing of it all. He survived and this is his reward and he is sharing with the family.”

NOTE: This blog is based on excerpts from an article in the Thursday, August 7, 2014, edition of the Big Timber Pioneer. The article written by Michael Wright is entitled Survive and Thrive and it details how Make-A-Wish fulfilled one Missouri boy’s Montana dream.