Those of you who know me best know the main reason I spend time in Montana. A little over a year ago my older daughter married a Montana rancher– and there’s a larger story behind that which will have to wait for another time.
Ranching is, well, it’s a way of life, it’s a religion, it’s a passion, it’s a labor of love and devotion and sacrifice, and it’s also dangerous.
Yesterday our beloved and adored son in law was in an accident. He and our daughter had been on horseback, working cows, for twelve hours. They put up the horses and she headed back to the house in the truck, he headed up to a pasture a mile beyond their house to check on some fences. He took the four-wheeler because the horses were tired, he needed to carry tools and the ‘mule’ is too slow.
He wasn’t doing anything unusual, as in he wasn’t driving in a reckless manner. As he headed up the rutted dirt road, a cow and calf darted in front of him. (Normally cows and calves move away from the four-wheeler so you can pretty much ignore them.) Our son in law tried to brake and he swerved, hit a rut, and the four-wheeler flipped. As he says, he went ass over teakettle.
His guardian angel was watching out for him because he landed in a shallow drainage ditch beside the road with the four-wheeler on top of him. If he hadn’t landed in the drainage ditch he would very likely be dead. He managed to crawl out from under the four-wheeler and reach his cell phone so he could call our daughter. She’s not exactly cool in an emergency… she sort of goes into shock, but she hauled ass down the road. She says he looked pretty bad.
This is a ranch. Eight thousand acres in the middle of nowhere – forty miles from the nearest tiny town. Our daughter didn’t want to move him so she called a friend– twenty miles away– an EMT. He drove like a bat out of hell to get there. He determined our son in law probably did not have a broken neck or a broken back. Between the two of them, they stabilized him and lifted him into the rescue vehicle. My daughter followed them into town to the small hospital where they evaluated him and sent him by ambulance to the closest large hospital.
Thanks to his guardian angel, he suffered nothing worse than a badly broken shoulder, humerus and scapula. He has torn ligaments and muscles pulled away from the bone. A specialist has been called in to perform surgery on Friday, to stabilize his shoulder and repair the torn ligaments and muscles.
My son in law will be fine, he’s pissed off as hell, but he’ll be fine. This is the busiest time of year on the ranch. There are babies to care for, fences to mend before the cattle are moved up into the mountain pastures– which entails a four day cattle drive on horseback– bulls to move after the cows, hay to plant and harvest, in the meantime all the livestock needs feeding. At least they’ve already finished branding, vaccines and castration.
I know everyone, all their neighbors, will pull together and help out– ‘Oscar’, our youngest daughter, (even Jake) and I will head up there whenever they need us, if it’s only to cook and clean and feed and support the riders. I’ll even rake hay… I don’t care. Whatever they need we’ll do.
Life is messy, folks. This could have been so much worse.
From my personal wedding album. The ceremony and reception were held on their ranch, and that’s their truck, not a prop. Yeah, we hauled in a full bar.: