Whoop-ee-ti-yi-o, get along little doggies! (Or whatever it is that cowboys say.) HN contributor Megan Kaiser trades in her day job for a temporary home on the range.
I sit at a desk all day doing statistical and economic modeling. I make spreadsheets, talk to clients, and go to meetings. I get in around eight and leave around five. I’m pretty sure no one would pay to have my job for a week. So when the opportunity to have someone else’s job for a week came up: I was all over it. (And no, not to just get away from the math–I like it and I’m pretty decent at it, thank you very much).
The job was being a cowgirl.
Riding six or seven hours a day? No phones, TVs, or spreadsheets? Beautiful countryside? Hanging out with other people that would like this kind of stuff as well? S’mores and beer around a camp fire? I’m so in.
A new friend was a part of a group of girls going to Montana to go on a cattle drive with Montana High Country Cattle Drive. I quickly became their fifth wheel. After having a pre-party where we watched City Slickers, off we went to Bozeman Montana to spend a week trying not to get in the way helping move cattle.
Our group’s head cowboy, Larry, was great. Everything you want your mentor cowboy to be. On the first day he let us know what we were going to be doing, warned us of stray barbed wire (totally freaked me out), and we went out for our first ride.
As soon as he heard I had ridden since I was kid he said: “Oh great, we’ll give you Trouble. He dumped a kid last week. Just needs someone to ride him, you know?” This – after I was still shaken up from the barb wire warning–great. But a smooth slow-talking cowboy can convince you of anything. Trouble pulled off a small buck going up the first hill we encountered, but I pushed him through and he was a saint the rest of the time.
Each day we rode for three or four hours, stopped for lunch, then rode for a couple more hours. And back at camp there was fishing, hiking, roping (or for me a better name is tangling), or just hanging out. We had a barn dance one night and went to a hot springs another night. A great getaway.
I got very into the entire thing and volunteered for every horse related job:
- We need a couple people to ride over yonder and see if any cows are in them there trees–oh me, I’ll go.
- I need someone to get up in front of the herd and open the big gates that will be on the other side of the hill–oh me, I’ll go.
- We need to pony the horses down to the crick to get some water–oh me, I’ll go.
- I need to go down in the ravine and get those cows, keep in mind it will be rough and fast going, anyone wanna come along–oh me, I’ll go.
- Someone needs to hold Gunner while he gets his shoe tacked back on–oh me, I’ll go, can I bring my beer?
I know the true cowboys probably laugh at those of us that have spent good money to follow them around as they do their jobs–but it was completely worth it. I did let them know if they wanted to spend some quality time in a chair in front of a computer they are more than welcome to do my job for a while! Surprisingly, there have been no takers… yet.
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow.