I arrived at the ranch on a Saturday afternoon. On Sunday I helped Connie prepare enough food to feed the cowboys for the next two days. She's a hard worker and I was bushed by the time I went to bed early that night.
My alarm clock read 9:15 mst and I was lying in my bed in the little dwelling called the bunkhouse, which was actually more of an efficiency apartment. I could hear the breeze coming throught the blinds of the open windows and the occasional yip of a coyote. I knew that I needed to shut my mind down and go to sleep, 4:15 would come quick, but it was racing about like a rat in a maze, bouncing off walls and constantly switching directions.
Which was probably exactly what Breeze was doing down in her pen: racing about, bouncing off fences. Besides the occasional break to eat or drink, I don't think her head had been below her withers since I'd unloaded her.
We were both excited and worried, a volatile combination.
I thought about the things Grant had told me about earlier that evening. About the cowboy etiquette that I would need to follow. Grant was a man of few words at this point in time so the lecture was short, sweet, and to the point. He would later open up and talk a whole dang lot, mostly to give me a hard time, which I understood and reciprocated a lot better than all that stinking quiet.
The most important thing, he told me, was to never ride in front of the other cowboys. There was an heirarchy and, understandably, I would be at the bottom of it. This rule also carried over in to the branding pen where most of us would be on foot. Not only was this a sign of respect but it would also prevent wrecks from occuring.
I had no problems with being a follower. My entire reason for coming to the ranch was to learn. Breeze, on the other hand, was a boss mare through and through and I was concerned that it was going to take more muscle than I had to keep her from trying to get to the front.
I finally fell asleep but it turned out to be a fitful night. I dreamt of riding a great red dragon with fire flaring from its' nostrils. There were cattle all around and the ones that weren't burnt to a crisp were taken out by giant swings of the dragon's great tail.
See any resemblance??