Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Cowboy

This is my Grandfather (the one in the hat), we call him Grampa Dan. Grampa is a rancher. He wears cowboy boots, old dirty worn out cowboy hats, unless he's going to town and then Nonna makes him put a clean hat on. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Grampa on his horse on my computer.

Yesterday I received a package from my Grandfather with this in it:

A lot of people barely know there Grandparents, some never meet them. I am extremely blessed to know mine as friends. I grew up 45 minutes away from Grampa Dan and Nonna (Nonna is the Italian word for grandmother). They live on a small cattle ranch in Oregon where I spent a lot of time growing up and even in college. Sadly, I have spent considerably less time there since I've been married.

In college, while other kids went off to Mexico or California for Spring break I headed straight for the ranch. It was usually the first place I went once finals were over for the year. My cousin and I were roommates in college and we'd head down to the ranch almost once a month to go riding, get our fill of homemade Italian cooking and do are laundry. We'd dump all our laundry into the middle of Nonna's big laundry room and head off to the barn with Grampa. While we rode through old growth forests on old logging roads Nonna would do all our laundry and cook us our favorite Italian dishes. Then they would send us home with fresh beef, veggies, Parmesan cheese, preserves, apple sauce, homemade pickles, whatever yummy food Nonna had piled away. It was a wonderful routine.

Grampa taught me to ride a horse by myself when I was seven years old. He's taken me all over the valley riding throughout the forests. All the while he teaches me about our family history, the horses, the ranch, how to run the ranch, life lessons, the "proper place for women", how I will marry a republican, how to track animals, that country music was the only worth listening to and that George Straight and Patsy Cline were the best and so on. Sometimes we would ride the horses all day long out in the trees. We would ride high up into the hills where we could look down and see the whole valley. Then we would stop and Grampa would stand there up on his big horse and point to various places through the valley. He would point out where his school house was, were Great-Grandpa Oscar's father first settled in the 1800's, where his grandmother's apple orchard was, the way he'd come home from school, where so and so held a barn dance, where my great-grandfather shot a cougar.

Other days we would work cattle. This was my favorite activity. We would take the horses up in the hills behind the range land, then we would work the cows down through the creek to the main pasture. Once the cattle were near the barn we would move them into the corral. Usually we would run them through the shoot to vaccinate them, separate them, give them fly powder and things like that. Sometimes a cow would have twins and we would have to take the twin into the barn to be bottle fed.

After a long day working on the ranch we would come up to the main house, eat a lot of food and watch Pure Country. It has always been our movie possessing all the truly important movie elements: horses, good music, a love story and dancing.

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