A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE MAY 1: Up close and personal with the herd

Getting the pictures of the 4-H Ranch Horse Club was a lot of fun.

Getting the pictures of the 4-H Ranch Horse Club was a lot of fun.

When I got to the ranch everyone was busy unloading horses from trailers and getting saddled up.

While all that was going on I did a quick interview with Doug and Erika Fossen so that there might be some factual information alongside the photos.

Someone offered me the use of the ranch Gator so I could follow along while they went out to bring the herd in from pasture.

I went stupid right then and said I wouldn’t need it. I forgot that hills were involved.

When the riders headed out of the farmyard some dogs in the barn were kicking up quite a fuss. It sounded like they had at least a dozen dogs locked in the barn. Erika explained that there were only two and they were very upset at being left behind. These are ranch dogs after all and they live for the opportunity to work with the cattle.

But Erika said they’d left them locked in the barn for safety reasons because some of the 4-H horses might not be used to having dogs so close.

I tagged along behind Erika and Leanne as best I could on the way up the hill.

One of the most blessed sights I’ve ever laid eyes on was about halfway out to the pasture where they were gathering the herd.

There was a gate there that had been left open to let all the riders through and Erika was given the job of closing it. What made the gate so wonderful was the fact that it gave me half a chance to catch up with Erika and Leanne.

After that gate we were faced with another blasted hill. This one was the runway used by Fossen Air for their 1946 Fleet Canuck airplane. This is the plane that Doug had gone down in back in 2009 when the weather closed in on him while he was flying back from Oliver. The plane has been rebuilt and it returned to the air last summer.

The plane takes off downhill and lands uphill. Simple – yet elegant!

When we got to the top of the hill we found Ed Fossen doing a preflight check, getting ready for a flight to Midway.

Fortunately for me he’d driven the Gator up to the plane and I was offered a second chance at a ride. I jumped at it!

It is a simple machine to operate – not too many levers or pedals and within a couple of minutes I was cruising right along. My pulse and blood pressure had leveled off and Erika could quit worrying about having to roll a heart attack victim down the hill to the ambulance.

When we caught up with the riders they had moved the herd through another gate and once again this gate was left open. Little did I know but the Gator I was driving is used to move feed out to the herd.

I noticed a couple of head coming back through the gate as I drove closer. Then the whole herd came out to greet me.

Erika told me that they thought I was coming to feed them and that I should just drive through the gate and they would all follow.

After I did that they all stuck to me like they were the workers and I was the queen bee. I really wish I’d had my Bostonian wife along for that ride sitting in an open ATV with a cow six inches from her face.

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