By Julie Carter
In my book, fall is about the most perfect of the year’s four seasons. It is the time when all things that make cowboys, rednecks and assorted combinations thereof the very happiest.
At the ranch, it’s payday time. Cattle buyers resurrect from out of nowhere and all eyes, ears and cell phones are on the markets. Whether the crop is yearlings or fresh-weaned calves, every year is a new episode of “let’s make a deal.”
The blooms on everything green, nurtured by summer rains and sunshine, are at their peak of beauty. Flowers abound both in the yards and thanks to the rains this year, also in the fields and on the hillsides.
While your cowboy might not be big on posies, I guarantee you he’s happy with the tall grass and practically gleeful over the fat cattle lying in that grass, bellies full and hides licked slick.
The camouflage corps have their binoculars focused and their weapons of choice tuned while they dream dreams of the perfect hunting season(s). Let a hint of crisp slip into the morning air and hunters everywhere trade in their hammocks and barbecue tools for game calls and camping gear.
Cattle trucks start rolling down the highways between the ranches and the wheat fields or feedlots. Every small-town café has a parking lot periodically filled with flatbed pickups pulling stock trailers along with other pickups loaded with 4-wheelers, coolers and all the trappings of a Cabela’s made-to-order hunting camp.
Here in New Mexico, throw in the smell of roasting green chile to complete the fall ambiance, and life is just about as perfect as you can get it.
If that isn’t enough to paint a picture of the best of the year, add to the mix some pre-season football that seamlessly morphs into a regular season of high school, college and professional games. Whether football is your “thing” or not, the onslaught of sports-mania permeates the air, unsurpassed by anything including politics.
Neighbors helping neighbors to get all the fall cattle work done is a jewel in the crown of ranching. Calendars are full of marks on dates for the ranch up the road, the ranch down the road and another one an hour or so away.
Those days will be dedicated to the time-honored custom of “neighboring”—where the work and the fun, and there is always some of that, is shared with folks that know you’ll be there when they need an extra man, horse and help.
Now is the time for all good men—and horses, dogs, kids and ranch wives—to rise to the call of long hours, dusty corrals, sunrises that bless the “waiting on daylight” mornings, rattling trailers, ready ropes, the smell of sage and cedar, hot coffee poured from a campfire pot and the camaraderie of cowboys working a vocation they wouldn’t trade for anything.
The life is not all that glamorous or romantic, but it does have an intangible something that anchors men’s souls to the land.
Whether they own it or hire on to be part of it, it transforms an occupation into a belonging and an existence into a passion for living.
Julie, steeped in fall nostalgia, can be reached for comment at email@example.com.