I was working the gate, paying attention to what was going on in the catch pen as Dan and Chris and Amber caught and haltered animals. Felt a presence close by and turned. His nose was near my rain jacket and he seemed curious and friendly. I greeted him in my way, with easy words and an outstretched hand. He greeted me in his way, with a sniff and eye contact.
His name is Mike, and he is a member of the Methow Valley pack string. All of the Okanogan Wenatchee NF horses and mules are wintering in a pasture outside Ellensburg. Forty-plus critters were caught today to be given worm medicine and generally looked over. Ours had their hooves trimmed, and one mule (Polly) had to be treated for an eye infection. It was good to see them, all shaggy in their winter coats and running around like the herd animals that they are. By the first of June, they will come back to their respective corrals and get ready to work. It will be another season of trail work for all of us.
I looked forward to work today, glad for the variety in my job. No lackluster cubicle for me, no computer screen or telephone. Frozen clods in the pasture, snow blowing sideways on a south wind, big warm breathing animals, ropes sliding through my gloves. The day goes by fast when there is something real to do.