Colorado In Fall: The Cattle Round Up

The colors. Beautiful, sunny days. Cold nights. Frost on the pumpkin. Colorado in fall cannot be any better.

The JN Ranch, our neighbor, it is their fall cattle round-up time. It is moving their herd back from the summer grazing ranges in the mountains, on BLM land, back to the mid-range and winter range on the ranch property. Preparing for the round-up begins in earnest, in early September. The largest piece of the preparatory work is establishing an accurate count and location of their stock. Drone technology and tracking technology have made the round-up a much easier task than before. The round-up, though, is weather-driven. Private weather forecasting has greatly aided of knowing when to move the herd with minimal impact from the weather.

into the fog: the Norris family leaving for the round-up (JN Ranch, Oct 08 2018)
photo credit: Julie Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

Their gear ready, the Norris family began their round-up last Monday. The low clouds and misty conditions didn’t make for ideal weather. Yet, the cool temperatures and general dampness weren’t too uncomfortable. Neither the long hours on the saddle become uncomfortable. It is their way of life, a life they love and respect.

With 517 head to bring home, the herd was divided in half. It made the cattle easier to manage on the trail, and added flexibility to the schedule and the 10-14 days earmarked to complete the round-up.

on point: Amanda riding ahead of the herd on a BLM service trail in the mountains above JN Ranch (Oct 10 2018)
photo credit: Amanda Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

A dense fog and intermittent rain/snow mix for two days slowed the pace of the first half of the round-up. Yet, they arrived with 225 head of the herd at the mid-range, on Friday, as planned. Comprised mostly of black angus cattle, they were no worse for wear. The same could be said about the Norris family members, but Amanda said she needed a long, hot shower before heading back for the second half of the round-up.

black angus cattle: arriving home on the mid-range (JN Ranch, Oct 12 2018)
photo credit: Amanda Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

The second half of the round-up is expected to arrive on the mid-range this coming weekend. Except for cold mornings, and one day of snow flurries, the pace of the round-up has remained on schedule. Once the remaining head arrive, mostly white-faced heifers, another count will be conducted.

Next week, it’ll be a check for strays, and count again. Once the final count is completed, the fall round-up will be over.

Photo credit
Many thanks to Julie and Amanda Norris for their photos. It is very much appreciated.


Pebbles: Rainbow Bridge Day

They were unsettled days, a mix of cold, rain and snow. The past few days have not been much different. The similarities of two moments in time, separated by thirteen years, have been most striking. Yet, they have been very different in mood.

The good days with Pebbles were many. She was ever loyal and loving. The best napping companion. She did not ask for much, except for tuna, a small taste of fresh canola oil, and her own little plate for dinner.

baby quilt: taking the morning nap

the daily tuna: lunching in the kitchen

Pebbles also liked her luxuries. She nibbled on her grandma’s gold bracelet, and developed a fondness for her leopard-print, leather handbag. My mom was more than happy to give Pebbles the handbag. One night, Pebbles spotted Andrea’s diamond pendant on her dressing table. The next morning, the pendant was missing. Andrea searched high and low for the pendant. While she thought Deborah or Elizabeth may have taken the pendant, Andrea found it laying in the kitty toy basket. Pebbles had put away her new special toy. When she saw Pebbles giving her the eye, Andrea asked if it was okay if she could wear the pendant for the day. Pebbles meowed her reply; Andrea took it to be a “yes”.

kitty fashion: Pebbles with her leather handbag

spa: warming in the dryer

Every day was a good one with our Pebbles. We were very privileged to be her forever family for 16 years. We love and miss you much.

Love you always,

mom and dad

A Quiet September

… and, not by design.

The month slipped by quietly, with October beginning today. The girls, immersed in their studies while staying sharp with their riding, are taking aim at the Las Vegas Nationals in mid-November. The always busy Laurie and Andrea, busy. Except for a pair of early starts, no one required their special talents in the middle of the night. For myself, a few work projects. One project is on hold pending the arrival of a new printer. My existing HP OfficeJet printer gave out last week, unable to lift a sheet of paper to be fed into the printhead interface. It gave nine years of flawless service.

Similarly, fall began quietly. No chill winds, no large temperature swings, and most importantly, no surprise snow. While the fall colors have gone past their peak in the high country, they are slowly beginning here in the lower elevations. Autumn gold should take hold around mid-month, mostly from cottonwoods and elms. Reds and oranges will mostly come from scrub oak, poison oak and poison sumac.

the fall colors in the old neighborhood (October 2017)

dulled color: gray skies and low clouds

A dull gray, not the best color to begin a new month. Rain, only a slight possibility, from the remnants of Hurricane Rosa. While the overcast gives the impression of cooler temperatures, it has been in the mid-70s for most of the day. Very pleasant. Better yet, not many flying insects hanging by the barn.

In the forecast: Brighter, warmer days. Cool overnights.

Coffee Options

The three-year limited warranty expired a few months ago. It would be a matter of time before it would fail. And, it failed this morning.

Cuisinart Programmable Coffee Maker: when it was new (Mar 2015)

Living on a ranch, you need to be resourceful. Simply, there is no 7-11, Starbucks or coffee shop nearby for that morning cup of coffee. Hot cocoa, while appealing, is not a proper substitute. (Sorry Elizabeth.) Neither is tea. (Sorry Elisa.)

Only two options are available. One is instant coffee. The other, cowboy coffee. Instant coffee is easy – follow the instructions on the back of the jar. Cowboy coffee is equally simple – measure out the number of scoops of coffee grounds to the number of cups to be served from the pot. Place the coffee grounds directly in the pot with the water. Bring the pot to boil over an open flame. Serve piping hot. Make sure you don’t drink to the bottom of your cup – you will have coffee grounds.

morning coffee: Amanda’s cowboy coffee pot at work on the range (May 2014)

My mom and dad had a cowboy-style coffee pot when they were young marrieds. It had a basket, however, for the coffee grounds. It was more like a percolator. It became lost somewhere along the way, or is hidden away in an unopened box of household goods.

What we did for morning coffee: instant coffee. It wasn’t so bad.

A new coffee maker was purchased later in the morning.


It has been nearly a generation. Of remembrances. Of recollections. Of reflections. A somber mood embraces the day.

September 11th Memorial Garden (Main Gate, Fort Carson, CO)

Perspectives have varied through the years. Those who lost a loved one, the hurt and the memory of the moment remains fresh like yesterday. The shock, the grief, the pain have largely slipped away for the many. They would prefer if this page could be turned considering the passage of time. Or, the calendar somehow turned back to September 10, 2001.

What makes September 11th different? Perhaps its scale, the senselessness, the summoning of fear. It was a declaration there would be no safety anywhere. The greatest power, too, would experience a measure of fear and uncertainty. Moreover, “the civilized world”, riven with division, would be willing to abandon their principles in the resulting turmoil.

Instead, we witnessed the greatness of America rising from the ashes of tragedy. From the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the quiet of a Pennsylvania field. We saw people, of every persuasion, step forward, asking what they could do. They did not wait for a glib slogan, or an opportunist’s call to action. It was America at her absolute best.

In remembering, remember the tragedy, but also remember the best of America revealed.


*** Remembering September 11th, a pair of documentaries:

9/11: The Day That Changed the World
George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview

Twenty Three

A special post by Andrea Kanakredes, RN, MSN.

Oh, how my heart skipped when I learned you were conceived. It was pure joy, to know another babe was on the way. I asked dad, “Girl or boy?” His answer came easily. “Girl. They are sweeter and finer.” Such a sweet, kind answer.

shaded yet bright: Elizabeth flashing eyes and earrings (age 5)

Our second princess, Elizabeth, is twenty three. Dad and I are so proud of who you have become. Gorgeous, inquisitive, talented. We so love how close you are with Deborah. And, with Tara. A heart full of love.

The chapter you’ve just begun will prove to be most challenging of your life. Dad and I know you will give your best effort, learning and perfecting your skills. Whatever your life’s work may be – physician, rancher or equestrian – you will be successful.

kindred spirits: Elizabeth and Lilith on an autumn walk (JN Ranch, October 2016)

Another beautiful princess, we are so blest. A princess who still slips us love notes and listens to our hearts flutter with love.

My perfect princess, your dad’s perfect princess.

Happy 23, baby!

mom and dad

Tuxie: Two Years, Still Too Soon

It is two years. We didn’t have a chance to exchange our momentary goodbyes. Our Tuxie boy left much too soon, much too young.

His quiet, laid-back personality is missed tremendously. Tuxie enjoyed his window watching. From the early morning to the late evening. From birds and squirrels to the occasional skunk or raccoon. And, of course, he watched his persons whenever they were outside and in window view.

on watch from the master bedroom bookcase (July 2012)

produce inspecting with Miss Pinky from the 2012 peach harvest (Aug 2012)

Maxie and Midnight adjusted much better than anticipated after Tuxie’s loss. The Musketeer bond between the three littermates, very strong. They always watched for one another in true Musketeer fashion.

In many ways, Tuxie’s presence and essence continues to live on through Maxie and Midnight. There are moments when you see some of Tuxie’s personality and behavior in the two.

window watching with a smile (May 2014)

We love and miss you much.