Saturday, July 31, 2010

Herding Cows On A Working Ranch In Washington

I would consider myself adventurous.  My friend Kari wanted me to experience a little of what life is like on her family's ranch so I agreed to play along.  I headed out to the ranch located two hours West of Spokane outside of a small town where there aren't any stoplights or grocery stores to be found.  However, I did notice a blacksmith and a post office.

This is her way of life year round.  The cows are out to pasture at the moment, so I decided to tag along while she moved them to another pasture.  Trading horses for ATV's, we headed out to herd the cows from one stretch of land to the next.  It's a good thing she knew where we were driving and what we were doing.  There were bumps, holes, drop offs, etc in the ground that I didn't notice until I was right up against it.  The last time I sat on an ATV I was 16 and it was a three wheeler.  As I was going up a hill, I didn't distribute my weight high enough so I jumped off and the ATV went crashing down the hill.  Of course, I didn't mention this to Kari at the time.

This time, it was a smoother ride.  I learned a lot about ranching on our adventure.  I didn't know that cows will come to you when called.  At one point, we were driving along and she kept yelling, "here...cows!...hereeeeee cows!!!"  I thought that was nice that she was saying hello but in fact, they listened and a few moments later, we were in the line of a stampede.  Just as the cows got to the gate, they stopped when they saw me, unsure of what I was doing there with my camera.  I slowly tip toed out of the way and they continued on their way.

After we did this a few times, we drove around the area to explore empty barns, a cemetery and stopping to chat with a neighbor on his ATV driving by to check on an area he sprayed the day before.  Three ATV's on the same road would be considered a traffic jam in this area.  In fact, after chatting with Kari's dad for a while, he doesn't even know where the key to his house is located.  "What do I need a key for?" he said.

Life is sure different out on the ranch.  I think everyone should experience this once in a lifetime.  I am not a beef eater but I think it's a good education to see where your food comes from and the people behind the work.  I also toured a working ranch in Arizona where they branded cows in front of us.  Wasn't the most pleasant sight but it's what they do to keep Americans fed.

Thank you Kari for the tour! She will be featured in my "Women's Work" project.  To see more photographs of these women, click HERE


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