Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the category “adventure”


This is a re-blog of a story that fits the subject matter of Deadly Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch, yesterday’s post.

Shootin' the Breeze

My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s…

View original post 812 more words



Beau’s trip to E.R., described in my prior post, reminded me of another Yellow Lab’s experience at a summer party.

Shootin' the Breeze

              It was high noon.  Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, was fussing in the kitchen when she hollered, “Big Bronc, they’re coming!  Lots of ‘em.  You better be ready.  I’m gittin plumb nervous.”

           Soon they commenced to coming up our lane to the ranch house.  Dozens of folks arrived in waves.  We was surrounded.  

            Me and Texas Bob took our stations, him by the cantina, me peeking out from inside the house.  We was ready, providin’ there warn’t too many of ‘em.  I lost count at 65.  That seemed about right for me and the little woman and Texas Bob.

            Also, Texas Bob had brung a woman with him, as was his way.  She was a spunky redhead, a fancy dresser, name of Ginger.  I’d seen her before.  Once down in Fort Worth Stockyards, at the Cattlemen’s Club, Bob and Ginger was there with me and Sugar and…

View original post 585 more words

Beau Visits E.R.

Beau hat

The meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at a location in another city about forty miles from our home.  I wanted to leave in plenty of time, so I let the dogs out around noon so they would have a restroom break before being left in the house for a few hours.

As it turned out, the restroom break was not what I expected for the usually exuberant Beau laid down on the porch and would not go down the steps.  When I urged him down the steps, he laid at the bottom and whined.  I got him to go another ten feet into the yard and he laid down again and whined again.  I had to decide what to do.

I decided to put Sadie, who seemed fine, back in the house and Beau into my car.  I drove away with him and wondered if I could make the meeting on time if I took him first to the veterinarian on the way.  I decided that he is more important than this important meeting with the C.E.O. of a new hospital, but maybe I could still make the meeting.  I called the vet clinic, arranged to drop Beau off on my way, and did so.  Of course, I could not merely drop him off.  We had some paperwork to take care of.  They weighed Beau.  He weighs 90 lbs.  Then he laid on the floor in passive resistance mode.  We coaxed him into an exam room. Still it went pretty fast and I got away in time to make the 1:30 meeting with the C.E.O.

I called my wife and told her Beau was at the vet’s.  Sugar called to see how he was doing.  She authorized x-rays in order to determine the reason for his gastric distress.  We both went to get him at 5:00 p.m.  Thankfully, he seemed to be feeling better.  The x-rays did not reveal any tumors or even pantyhose or 3 lbs of three bean salad, which have been discovered in other Yellow Labs we know, but I digress.  See

Without  going into a complicated medical explanation, I will simply report that Beau seems better after the treatment by which he was treated.

The veterinarian included in the diagnosis that Beau is a funny character.  (We knew that already).  We were told that he would not walk on what he had determined to be “the carpet of death.”  I do not fully understand, but apparently Beau refused to walk on a certain carpet and they could not make him do so, being 90 lbs of dead weight when he passively resists, like protesters of yesteryear.  See also,

Sadie was glad to see us all come home.  All is well that ends well.

Making Rounds

Some professionals with important responsibilities “make rounds.”  Physicians make hospital rounds.  Security guards make rounds.  Military personnel go on patrol.  Beau and his assistant, Camo the cat, make their daily rounds by patrolling around our ranch.  It kind of ticks me off.  I will explain.

Beau is a Yellow Labrador Retriever.  God designed him to, well, retrieve.  God invented other breeds to patrol.  For example, Great Pyrenees dogs patrol the perimeter.  We used to have a half Pyrenees/ half Australian Shepherd who could both herd and patrol.  Beau has refused to accept his designated role in life.  So has Camo.

Each morning at first light, Beau and Sadie wake us up by shaking their collars.  They do not bark.  They do not scratch at the door.  They shake their collars and have trained me  to respond by letting them out.

Sugar, my sleepy wife, has trained me to get out of bed and attend to the needs of the dogs.  I let them out the front door and, as they go around the house to the back door,  I prepare their breakfast.  I feed them on the deck.  So far so good.

However, after breakfast, Beau and Sadie leave the deck to do what nature calls them to do.  I stand in the kitchen watching through the windows.  I watch Sadie come back and let her in.  I watch Beau, joined by Camo, go on patrol.

That would be cute if we had a regular yard.  Their patrol  takes a long time and involves crossing a bridge, disappearing in the woods, checking out the barn, and sometimes going out on the road before coming back up the lane to the house.

The tour takes about 20 minutes, during which time I look out windows on each side of the house, sometimes losing sight of the pair.  All the while, Sugar is in bed.  All the while, I am eager to return to bed.  All the while, Beau and Camo take their sweet time.

I suppose I could do a few hundred push-ups while waiting, but then they would be out of my line of sight.  Being the sentinel is as important as being on patrol.

Snowed In


We woke to snow and it kept coming all day.  What do we care?

We have wood to  burn.  I think there is plenty of propane in the tank.  We paid the electric bill.  And have a generator too.  We have hay in the barn.  We have groceries, including dog food and cat food.  If we brush off the satellite dishes, we have internet and TV.

I still have to go outside.  The horses rely on me to throw them hay and fill the heated stock tank with water.  They appreciate my care.  We have relationships.  They have independent personalities.  On the other hand, the barn cats, who also have personalities, are less appreciative.  Rather, they believe that they are entitled.  They scold me when they should be worshiping me.  I doubt many barn cats have a covered bed heated by an electric blanket.

A snow plow went up our country road.  We could get to the highway if there were not drifts on the lane.  But we don’t need to go to town.  I got a call that the Rural Land Use Advisory Board meeting was cancelled.

I shoveled off the deck three times but it does not appear that mattered.  It is deep with snow again.  An avalanche slid off the steep metal roof.

Sugar made soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and we had leftover ziti and Italian green beans for supper.

Being snowed is kinda fun.  Especially with Miss Sugar.

Miss Sugar’s Kangaroo


Miss Sugar loves animals.  Well, many species of animals.  Some, not so much.  Rodents are not on her list of beloved animals.  I know what you are wondering, Gentle Readers.  You are asking, “What about kangaroos?”

It is interesting that you should ask that very question.  I know the answer.  Sugar once tried to love a kangaroo, but it did not work out.  I shall explain.  Pay attention.  What I am about to say might prove to be of considerable value to you in your future dealings with kangaroos.

Sugar saw an advertisement for a feed store that was selling baby kangaroos.  I have been to many feed stores.  I have never seen kangaroos at any of them.  Sugar and daughter Michelle went to see the kangaroos.  Michelle wanted one.  They were selling for only $600  each.  There were four to choose from.  Those of you familiar with the market for kangaroos know whether $600 is a good deal.  T his was Sugar’s first shopping trip for a kangaroo.  Michelle’s too.

At the feed store, Sugar, who has a way with animals, used her charm on one of the kangaroos.  She usually makes animals feel comfortable.  When I say animals, I am referring to dogs, cats, horses, and even cows.  Surprisingly, Sugar’s technique did not charm this particular kangaroo.

It grabbed her with its front claws, stabbing Sugar’s biceps.  As it held Sugar, preventing escape, the cute baby kangaroo kicked Sugar in the stomach with its powerful hind legs.  Sugar fell backwards.  Her arms were bleeding.  Everyone in the feed store laughed as Sugar jumped up, saying, “That thing attacked me.”

And that is how Sugar saved $600 and that is why we don’t have a kangaroo.

I’m okay with it.

Kick-boxing Kangaroos

Our Signature Rock

Signature Rock

There are many “signature rocks” on many trails.  They are places that pioneers and later passers-by could carve their names into soft sandstone.  Near our house, a part of the Overland Trail has a Signature Rock.  We often take ranch guests up there.  Today, Sugar and I went there with the dogs.  Here are some photos so that you might feel you have vicariously traveled this portion of the Overland Trail.  Note the ruts from 140 years ago.  She even took a picture of our house as viewed from Signature Rock.  The final photo is of another landmark on the Overland Trail — Steamboat Rock.

Cross Creek Ranch from Signature Rock

sinature rock on overland trail

initials on rock Roberts sig

more signaturesoverland remnantsoverland trail rutssteamboat rock

Miss Sugar Visits The Line Shack


In many of my previous posts, I have alluded to the fact that Miss Sugar, my hot trophy wife, is a feminine female.  She has another side.  (When I say another side, I am not referring to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s two sides.)  I am saying that Sugar is sort of a Tom-boy in that she is fun to hang out with and do stuff that two middle school boys would enjoy.  Tonight we had a little adventure.  It was an adventure which many women might not have considered fun, or so Sugar tells me.  She suggested that not all women would have fun hiking past two dead cows to get to an old line shack far from civilization.  Do you think she is pulling my leg?  I invite comments from my readership on this question about what women like because I thought I am an expert on the subject until Sugar shook my confidence.  So, dear readers, even if other women would not have enjoyed this adventure, at least Miss Sugar did.  Or so she told me.

Now I will describe the adventure.  But first I will describe the setting.

We live only about twenty miles from the metropolis of Fort Collins, Colorado, rich in Old West lore.  Our little ranch is adjacent to a 16,000 acre ranch that goes back 143 years, still in the same family.  We are the last place on the road we live on, which means we had to put in several power poles to bring electricity to where it had not previously extended.  Prior to building our house, only buffalo, pronghorns, deer, elk and, later, cows occupied the land.  Beyond us is open range, which means there are no fences.  Cattle cross the road when and where they please.  Drivers must beware.  Cattle and wildlife have the right-of-way.  The Overland Trail passes through the historic ranch as well.

James Michener’s book, Centennial, describes the area and when the TV mini-series based on the book was filmed, many scenes were on the ranch.  (Remember, no electric poles and lines spoil the view).  My friend Rodney was an extra in the series, cast as an Indian riding a horse.  This was an area which was indeed Indian hunting grounds.  There are teepee rings near our home.  Teepee rings are in clusters, indicating a portable village was in the area where the buffalo truly roamed. The grass in our pasture is a species known as buffalo grass.  There is a buffalo jump on the ranch.  The Indians would run a herd off a cliff and butcher them at the bottom.  The ASPCA would not endorse this technique.

Cattle replaced the buffalo.  The ranches were so huge that the cowboys charged with taking care of the herd could not easily go to town, or even to the main ranch.  So little cabins known as line shacks would be roughly built for the cowboys who had to stay with the herd in winter months, sometimes snowed in.

A few miles from our house, on the open range, we came across an old log cabin with only one window in each of two walls and no windows on the other two walls.  It appears to be an old line shack.  It fits the need of providing shelter in a very remote pasture close to a stream of water and protected from the west wind by a hill.  It is far from any grocery store.

Of course, we could not drive up to it because it is off the county road.  We had to hike.

On our hike we passed two dead cows.  All that is left is hide and bones.  And the putrid smell of death.  I think the coyotes did their job as scavengers.  Miss Sugar held her nose and hiked on.  She brought her camera.  She looked inside the shack and inside the barn.  Here is a photo she took.

line shack

So, if you are looking for ideas for a Saturday date night, take your date to an old line shack rather than dinner and a movie.


A Baby Left On The Doorstep

Yesterday, we were fixin’ to leave the ranch to go to town when we heard a knock on the door, which is unusual because we have a locked gate and a sign that says, “Patrolled by shotgun three days a week.  Guess which days.”

Anyway, this brave soul had parked his vehicle outside the closed gate and climbed through to walk up the lane.  I opened the front door and he said that he had a calf in his car and was looking for the owner.  He said it was caught in barbed wire close to the highway.  He saw afterbirth, but no mother cow around.  So, he scooped it up.  All the fight was out of it, he said.

I told him it was not ours but I thought I knew to whom it belonged and opened the gate remotely by the magic of electronics so he could drive to the barn.  It was in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee.  We put it in a stall.  It was big for a newborn, probably 100 pounds, but it still had the umbilical cord so I reckon he was right about its time of birth.  It is a Hereford.  Those have cute white faces and red bodies.  My wife, Sugar, immediately wanted it as her own.  Her mothering instincts kicked in.

hereford calf

We went into action.  We drove to a farm and ranch store twenty miles away.    We bought colostrum, which orphaned calves need within the first few hours of birth, and milk replacer for on-going nutrition.  We hurried back.  Sugar got started with bottle-feeding the baby.  I called Zach, the ranch manager for the big (16,000 acres) ranch bordering us.  He had been looking for the calf.  Zach said it was born around 6 a.m.  He said the mother somehow got across the highway and then couldn’t figure out how to get back.   Zach said she lost her baby last year too and that it died.  Surprise!  (My next call should have been to Social Services to report her unfitness and neglect.)

Zach said the calf was born right by the highway fence.  He had the problem with the mother leaving and then when he came back to the calf, it was gone, taken by the Good Samaritan in the interim.

Zach and his five-year-old daughter came over with a stock trailer.  The calf stood up on shaky legs and even stepped up into the trailer with little help.  Since it has a mother, such as she is, the milk replacer is unnecessary.  So was the colostrum.

Miss Sugar misses the calf.  She was hoping she could keep it.  I reminded her that at 3:00 a.m. she will be glad the calf is with his mother.  For the first couple days newborn calves need to be fed every two hours, then tapering to three times a day for the duration until weaning.  Sugar might have even expected me to take a couple shifts.  We were spared.  So was the calf, provided his mother can handle the job.

P.S.  Zach told me the next day that the mother and calf have hooked up.  He is now nursing.  That is preferable to bottle feeding every two hours.

bottle calf

Another calf another time.

The Reckoning

I walked into the courtroom, like I was walking onto a yacht, cowboy hat strategically dipped below one eye, my tie it was apricot.  (To the tune of You’re So Vain, with credit to Carly Simon).

My lovely client, Miss Sugar, known in legal parlance as THE ACCUSED, was trembling.  Was it from fear, or in eager anticipation of being saved, again, by her devoted advocate, COWBOYLAWYER?

No matter, although it should have been the latter.  The proper emotion for THE ACCUSED should have been confidence, if not confidence in the legal system, confidence in her swaggering lawyer.

I greeted the prosecuting attorney, “When you see me coming, better step aside.  A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died,”  (Credit to Tennesse Ernie Ford’s ballad, Sixteen Tons).

He got the picture.  He invited us to sit down.  This was a pre-trial conference, not the actual trial, the trial that he dreaded.  The trial he now wanted to avoid.  “Let’s talk about a disposition,” he said.

I wasn’t buying any plea deal.  “The disposition we will accept is a dismissal of the charges.  How about that?”

As Sugar’s mouthpiece, I made my arguments.  They were, as you will soon read, very compelling.  Yet you wonder whether they were persuasive.  That is why you will keep reading until the end.  With bated breath.

“First,” I sez, sez I, “The two hour parking sign does not warn that one cannot move from one parking space to another in the same block and still be cited.  A person is not born knowing that.  My client moved her vehicle from one spot to another, albeit in the same block, precisely to avoid a ticket.  How was she to know that she cannot stay on the same block?  This is a grave injustice, grave, I say!”

The quivering prosecutor paled.  He could see that his worst nightmare was coming true.  He could see the danger he faced taking that to trial.  He softly offered, “Well, I see your point.  I will dismiss that one.”

Miss Sugar brightened.  “Thank you,” she said to the prosecutor.  (She should have said it to me).

I wasn’t through with this guy.  “And now dismiss the one for parking overtime in the lot across the street.”

He looked confused.  “But she was there from noon until 8:30 p.m. in a space clearly marked 2 hours only.”

“Exactly!.  She did it on purpose because she has a permit for that lot.  She bought it after getting multiple tickets.  What good is the permit, Pardner?”

“Well,” he explained, “some of the spaces are marked ‘Permit Parking Only’ and others are 2 hour spaces only, even if you have a permit.”

“How was my client supposed to know that?  She just knew she had a permit for that lot.  She parked in the first available stall.  She did not want to drive around looking at each sign.  She should not have to do so.  She should have been given a map at the time she purchased the permit.  She did not think she had to park at the other end of the lot, almost to Perkins Restaurant.”

“I guess I could dismiss that one too.”  He did not want to look into my fierce eyes.

Sugar thanked him again.  What about thanking me?  Perry Mason’s clients thanked him rather than the prosecutor.

“Okay, now how about the two tickets she got in the same afternoon?  One was enough.  She will pay for one, but she did not move her car after the first one because she thought she had been cited already.”

The prosecutor explained, weakly, that it is possible to get more than one ticket when a vehicle remains in a 2 hour spot after the first ticket.  He reported that Sugar’s tickets that day were issued three hours apart.

“She will pay for one, but not for two.  How about that?”  I was repeating myself.  His recital of the facts and explanation of the law did not alter my opinion.

“Okay,” he said.  I wondered if he was going to cry.

“She already paid for one.  We just set the second one for trial.  We asked the guy at the counter to check on it.  Here he is.”

The guy at the counter came in and explained to the prosecutor that Sugar had, indeed, already paid for one ticket.  It had taken him a half hour to find it, but he remembered when she came in on another day and paid.  He apologized that the payment had not shown up because of the trial setting leaving the case open.  He promised that the correction had now been made.

So the prosecutor dismissed all three of the charges that we came in for.  However, he said that he still had to charge $35 for court costs.  He said that he did not have the power to waive court costs, since that is the charge for filing for trial.

“That’s fine,” I said.  “Credit her for what she already paid and dismiss all remaining charges.  We will pay the $35. You’ve got yourself a deal!”

So we paid the $35 and left the building.  We’d had enough fun for one day.


Post Navigation