Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to school...

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation.

It is true.  It is back to school time.  Although Kyle is not a school age child yet, he starts preschool this year at Wiggles and Giggles.  So when Tessa, the owner and manager of his child care facility called to confirm his enrollment today, it was a firm reminder that 'back to school' is upon us.  Shortly after that phone call, Brad sent a text letting me know that he was on his way to NDSU with classes starting tomorrow.  Yes, it is back to school everywhere in North Dakota.

In addition to these affirmative communications, the seasonal changes in the weather have too, been obvious the past three weeks.  The days are getting shorter (where I actually get to see the sun rise on the mornings without an alarm clock) and the nights are getting cooler and crisp. 

And with that, in flow the memories of my past back to school days at WCHS and NDSU.  In my high school days, basketball season had already been underway for a couple weeks with Two A Days creating lactic acid buildup in all the muscles, head to toe. The unpleasant taste of gun metal in the back of my mouth on the last few crunchers of morning practice are vivid.  It was the time to catch up on the summer happenings with friends, as back in those days summer trips to town were infrequent and land line phone communications were limited by parents.

In college it was the excitement of meeting and reuniting with the other 'aggies' in Bisonville.  Due to the fact that all of this was done before the age of cell phones and the Internet, it was necessary to attend the first Saddle and Sirloin Club meeting of the year to exchange land line phone numbers and physical addresses that were ours for the next 9 months.  Crazy.  I know.

So how does all of this reminiscing tie into ranch life in the middle of the craziest little wild west show around?  This past weekend, we had our cowboy style 'back to school' Two A Days or first S & S meeting of the year.  We (and the horses) took full advantage of the cool nights that August has to offer.  We hosted our annual horsemanship clinic weekend.  We did this right before school started to take advantage of the cool evenings which make for more alert and 'eager to learn' students (of the 4 legged variety) and to avoid the day time highs of July in North Dakota that can have a negative impact on everyone participating regardless of species.

I take pride in being a good student if the syllabus tickles my fancy and I have spent a lot of time riding under different clinicians to become a better horseman.  So every late August weekend that I can share these things I have learned over the years from the various horsemen I have ridden with - this is my adult age 'back to school'!

SIDE NOTE - So, shortly after we were married, Pete said to me, "We need a hobby".  Me, "We have one.  The horses".  Pete, "No.  That's a business.  I was thinking more like golfing or the lake or something".  Me, "I don't love golfing or the lake and I don't want to spend a lot of time or any money on those things.  The horses are what I love doing with any extra time there is and they are really easy to spend money on ;)".......... That was the end of golf and lake talk around our house.

This past weekend we had a great time sharing good conversation, wonderful food, and enjoying excellent friendships with our personal, Angus and Quarter Horse friends, The Tastad's from McCumber Angus Ranch near Rolette - Matt, Cynthia, Sydney, Eva and Nate.  Brett stayed home to hang out with his two Grandmas.  In addition to all that, there was schooling - on how to be good communicators with our four legged friends.  Once we all understand each other, that is when trust is built and magic happens!

Teachers are GREAT students.  Here, former high school science teacher and currently, mother of four horse crazy kids, Cynthia Tastad and Hoss watching Pete demonstrate hand positioning while working on side passing.

Eva Tastad and Lenny working on their side passing.  He's not sleeping, just conserving his energy.
Sidney and Pokey, Me and Dos, Cynthia and Hoss, Pete and Eva (the horse), Matt and Jake, Eva (the kid) and Lenny all working on 'lateral movement'.

 After the McCumber Crew loaded up and headed home on Sunday afternoon (with one more horse than they came with... Lenny is a lucky guy), we took a little family trip in the 'Big Red' to put mineral out for the cows.

A commercial recip cow in the Rough Creek pasture posing on one of the prettiest ridges of the ranch on a beautiful Sunday evening.
Kyle would be a good poster child for Vita Ferm mineral (and Lighting McQueen lunch boxes).

So from our end of the road, HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL EVERYONE!


  1. Love this! Oh, the good old days... when people actually had to SEE each other to connect! (Yeah, and old school land lines, too!).

    I am impressed with your horsemanship clinic - I hope you keep it going! I remember going to horsemanship clinics in the summers - they were the best! I'm sure you and Pete are helping to make wonderful memories for the young people involved. :)

  2. I do miss those days, and our plan is to keep sharing what we have learned over the years. Horses really do provide a special experience to humans and an insight to 'self' that no other animals can. They are AMAZING.