Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Minnie Pearl and the Accidental Tourist

Her:  We have a 15 year old exchange student from Japan coming to live with us for two months, Dear.
Me:  Japan?  Where's that?  Does he speak English?  

Her:  Pffft!  What do you mean where's Japan?  And no he doesn't speak English.
Me:  So what is he here for?  

Her:  He is here to have the full cultural experience of living with an American family and doing whatever they do day to day, going where ever they go, that kind of thing.
Me:  Has he ever seen a horse or a mule?  Does he like John Wayne?

Her:  I don't know?  Why don't you ask him yourself when he gets here?
Me:  You know I'm going to make a mule-skinner out of him, don'tcha?

Her: Yes Dear.  


His name is Yuya.  Night number 2,  we watched The Cowboys on the big screen.  By the time it was over, he had learned that his favorite movie star was John Wayne, which he could declare with the coolest accent you ever heard.  Ever heard a Japanese kid say "John Wayne?"  You need to.

He began doing chores with Preston each morning and night starting on day one.  He got so good at it, that we let him do it all by himself while Preston was gone for 3 days last week.

Then we dressed him up like the real deal and put him on Minnie Pearl.  He asked for no quarter, and we gave him none.  After 7 hours in the saddle Saturday doing everything we did from running in the flats, to scrambling over the ledges, he smiled and said he liked it.  The next day, he said he wasn't saddle sore.

What a tough little buggar!  What a great little mule.  

Yuya and Minnie Pearl!  Glad you came to stay.  Gonna miss you when you leave...

Dan Stephenson on the sweetest Tennessee Walking mule...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cattle Punchin' Facebook

There are two kinds of noise that dull the senses.  Both are found in the city.  And both can be avoided in the places where cattle range.  One type of noise is of the discordant, analogue variety which rattles against your eardrums like the loose exhaust on an old pickup driving down a washboardy dirt road.  The living city pulses with this type of noise as the sound of traffic, sirens, and frenetic movement bang, clank and rumble until your ears finally become brittle and wear out.

The other type of noise is of the digital variety which rattles in your brain like the skywave chatter one finds while scanning the AM radio dial after dark.  Today's city throbs with bits and bytes, pushing information to boxes that sit on our desks and fit in our pockets until relevant truths get lost in the white-noise of it all.  Nearly every human and every piece of information on Earth is accessible to me through the iPhone in my hand, at light speed!  No wonder driving cows is such a relief.   Even in the quiet of this place, tinnitus rings in my ears, and my brain chomps at the bit for the next piece of news.  It almost takes great effort not to hear it.

I waited a long time to join the smart phone revolution.  The fear of breaking an expensive computer kept me in the dumb phone market because I could get mil-spec toughness there.  My old Casio is the first phone that outlasted me.  But in my profession, it isn't wise to get behind the technology curve, so I finally wandered into the Verizon store and wrapped an iPhone in an Otterbox with the hopes that it will survive what a mule-skinner can dish out.

So as I sat on my mule Saturday punching cows, I realized my new phone will take pretty good photos... which led to the next realization that I could push those photos to Facebook with the help of my new digital secretary, Siri.  Before the mules were loaded back in the horse trailer, much to my delight, friends and relatives from diverse time zones saw my cattle drive through the buck-horn sights of Calamity Jane's ears and had their say-so.  And from the mesa tops East, above the Hurricane fault, Ballard's cows unwittingly punched Facebook.

My sweet girl-kid 

Little Uncle Sam in the duster.

Leon and Andy hidin' under hat

Back in line you leather headed heifers

Kolob formations dead ahead

All is well... Preston on his own self-broke mule, Senator