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August 31, 2013: The Life of a Ranch hand

Today we drove over to Linn Canyon Ranch where Tyson (Peter Linn’s ranch hand) was to shoe Raudi and Signy. Back down teeth rattling road, then through Driggs, to our destination. Tyson immediately dropped what he was doing in order to
give us an assist.

He was helping others who worked there in preparing for a 170 person wedding. Cars were going up and down the long driveway. It was a busy place. The thirty or so horses in a nearby paddock seemed oblivious to the goings on, as did the two percheron horses tied to a nearby fence.

As Tyson worked on Signy (who was letting it be known she did not want him to mess with her rear feet) Peter appeared and offered to give me a tour of the place. Peter is the fellow we met at Coyote Meadows who attempted to locate Ryder’s owners. Like then, this time he struck me as a rather introspective individual who prides himself on doing his job well. And what a job. There is the commercial pack horse business – and at the same time there is the day-to-day workings of an 80 acre ranch.

Peter first took me into the horse paddock, and introduced me to a handful of the Linn Creek ranch horses. At the same time he talked, he was looking them over, in order to see how all were doing. The stock including halflingers, mustangs, and appaloosas. One horse had a wart in its ear, another a proud flesh wound, and yet another a bite on its rump. All, Pete noted, half to himself, would soon be taken care of. He added that he’s hoping that when his sister Courtney finishes veterinary school in Corvallis, that she’ll also work on the ranch horses.

We went into the tack room after the horse portion of the tour. There I was shown Peter’s uncle’s artifact collection – drawers of Indian arrowheads and the like. Apparently, the ranch is located where a major battle involving the Blackfoot Indians once took place. In the near future, there may be an archeological dig in the area.

I next followed Peter into the lodge. There I met Ramsey, who is his former girlfriend. I was eager to meet her, for I’d heard that she’d ridden horses from Colorado to Oregon, a trek that took her three years. As Peter is handsome, Ramsey is beautiful. And at the same time, equally articulate. We talked for some time about the difficulties and joys inherent to long-distance rides. She noted that she had two horses die on her ride, one of Patomac Fever. As we concluded our conversation, she introduced me to another hand as a “long rider.” Oddly enough, this made me feel good – like I was the real deal.

Peter next took me upstairs, and showed me the entertainment portion of the lodge. He additionally pulled forth a photo from behind the bar of the stead before they began work on it. It was just a picture of a rundown shack. He added that none of the other buildings were then up either.

Peter and I wandered back in the direction of Tyson and Pete. Pete was holding Raudi and Tyson was sizing rear shoes. Raudi behaved, but quite clearly was more interested in the goings on in the horse pen. If she had her druthers, she’d be mixing it up with the herd. Signy, now tied to the hitching post, didn’t seem to give a rip about the rest.

Tyson did a good job with the shoeing. Because he has a full head of brown hair, Tyson looks far younger than he is. (When I mentioned this, he proudly said that he’d been cared the evening before.) Tyson lives nearby, and does farrier work and other things around the place. But he readily conceded that he would instead like to have a television show, one in which the subject is cooking on the trail. In the meantime, he shoes horses.

As we were talking, Peter loaded four horses into the stock trailer, and then returned and said good bye. He was heading out to the trail to pack out the Forest Service in the morning. He just needed to get out, he said. As he left, I got the sense that he’s a fellow with a lot on his mind these days. I suspect that keeping the ranch afloat financially is always an iffy preposition. Pack trips and weddings and trail rides can’t bring in that much money. Plus, taking people on pack trips is a risky business. I don’t at all envy him.

The grand finale of our visit was watching the two percherons pull the covered wagon made by an Amish fellow. They were being primed for the next day’s activity, which was going to involve moving the bridal party from up the road to the wedding site. Amazingly, Billy and Bob, who were a matched bay pair, moved in unison, stride by stride.

We said our good-byes, with me thinking that it would be tough, making a living as a rancher. Tending to four horses (as opposed to sixty) is more than enough work for me. And, I (as does Peter) have the gene.

Next: 165: September 2, 2013: Hardship