We’re still celebrating the 4th around here. It’s not done till after tomorrow.

So, after we brought the bean pot home (and the fella washed it without me having to lift a finger, the darlin’ man) and rested up all afternoon, we decided to go out to the ranch rodeo.

Now a ranch rodeo is not the same creature as a “regular” rodeo. Generally real, working cowboys compete–guys who spend every day doing these same kinds of activities–and the events are things like “team doctoring” and “sorting” and “team branding.” In the saddle bronc riding event, the cowboys use their own saddles, and there are no special rules about holding on or spurs–the guy just has to stick in the saddle as long as he can any way he can.

Since the last son finished his Eagle Scout award and turned 18, and then graduated from high school and went away to college, we haven’t had to work at the Boy Scout concession stand at the 4th of July rodeo, and believe me, it’s a thrill to know that I can go out to the rodeo grounds and just sit in the stands and take pictures. (One of these days, I really am going to paint a rodeo painting.) Under the stands, in the concessions booth, it’s hot as blazes, and you have to stand up the whole time. Especially if you’re in the back assembling hamburgers and hot dogs. But we spent many years down there…

Anyway, Saturday night, we got to the rodeo arena in time for the posting of the colors–an impressive sight on horseback. And before the actual events began, they had all the youth events. Little bitty kids riding calves, steers and donkeys. (The bigger ones were on the bigger animals.) I couldn’t believe those mamas and papas let their little ones out there to do it–but knowing some of the kids who were out there, I’m actually not surprised–those particular kids would dare anything and get mad if you didn’t let them try. Most of them fell off the minute Daddy let go (the calves were small enough, Daddy fit right in the chute with them), but there were a few really little ones with Daddies who never let go, just lifted them right off when they started to slide. Nobody got hurt. A few of them got mad. A couple didn’t want to get up off the ground, but that was just mad, or embarrassment.

Still, I was glad when it was over and the grown-ups got to play. I do like watching the cutting horses in the sorting. There’s a bunch of ten steers with numbers on them behind a line drawn in the arena with flour, and a four-man team. One man is the sorter, the others hold the herd. The event ended with the “team doctoring.” As the sorter crosses the flour line (and I watched them draw the line, so I know they made it with flour), he’s given a number, and has to find that steer in the bunch and cut it out of the herd first and chase it to the other side of the line, then the two numbers after that, in order. If the wrong number crosses the line, they lose. If the numbers cross the line in the wrong order, they lose. If one of the numbers already crossed goes back across the line to join the bunch, they lose. Then, they have to rope the last steer they cut out–head and heels–lay it down and mark some part of it they’re doctoring. And they’re timed, and they only get three tries. Or they lose. It’s really easy to get a “no time” in this event. Out of the 7 teams competing on Saturday, I don’t think but two got a qualifying time.

I went down to talk to Jiggs and Evelyn in their box–various ranchers in the area have boxes at the front of the stands with aluminum folding chairs–not real comfortable, but they do have backs, which the regular stands don’t have. And I could get closer to the action from the box to take my pictures. I don’t think Jiggs is his real name, but I’ve never heard anything else, so I guess it could be. I’ve met people or called Rip, and Buster, and Buck, and Rabbit. And people’s “real” names tend to be a bit out of the ordinary around here too. For instance, I know two Delberts. And they go by Delbert, not Del or Bert. Willard has passed on–he was the sweetest, orneriest fellow. The man who built our house and lived here for years was named Heckle. I love Texas country names.

There’s still 4th of July celebrations yet to go. The barbecue lunch is Tuesday at noon on the courthouse lawn. Our county courthouse was recently restored and it’s a true gem of the genre. We’ll probably walk over, because there’s not a whole lot of parking around there, and we’re just a block and a half away. Then the parade will come by around two. The courthouse is a block off Kearney, aka Main Street, so I guess downtown has a teensy bit more than one street…The parade starts at the park, goes up Kearney to the highway (if they let us shut down the highway for a little bit), over one block to the courthouse and back down to the park. It’ll be fun, if it’s not too hot…

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