The bawling of young calves, drowned by the anxious mooing of their mothers.
The swish of the reata – swirling through the the air – followed by the ‘zzzt!’ of the loop tightening around a calf’s leg.
The sizzle of the branding iron, the swipe of a pink crayon.
Mounds of mashed potatoes, fresh-baked rolls, steaming roast beef.
Stories of cows, bulls, and ornery horses.
Laughter and joking and praising the cook.
Thanking God for rain, planning the next ranch rodeo.
Sunshine casting golden streaks over fresh-mown hay.
Sweating over small bales, greasy from the broken-down baler.
Sipping iced tea, looking anxiously toward the sky.
Working till dark and then some.
Gathering cattle, filling water tanks, fixing windmills.
Admiring a bull elk as the sun rises in a pale sky.
Kids riding the old horse alongside Dad.
Teaching the son to carve leather and the daughter to feed a bottle calf.
Eating homegrown food around a big table.
Sitting on the porch in the stillness of evening, listening to the creek rushing by.
This is why we ranch.