My dad and I went to the ranch for an overnight trip this past week, sandwiched in between my finals and a family trip to Santa Fe. I needed a little fresh air to shake off the end of the quarter doldrums, and I think my dad always just wants to go. I can't blame him. So we headed out early on Tuesday and came back Wednesday, and even though it was a quick--just long enough to work on a few projects and stretch our legs--it was the breathing room I needed. And I even got some work done on my own projects, not school work, so it was all the way around a good few days.
I want to tell you about walking the fence though, because it was new to me--a product, of course, of being raised in the city and not on a farm, because most kids who grew up on land would know just what I'm talking about--but I walked the fence with my dad checking for weak spots or holes. It sounds simple, and it is. You literally just follow the fence line and if there's something wrong in the wire, you fix it. We walked up and down draws, saw where the fence twisted around juniper trees and where the cows had tried to come through, we found the sections where elk and deer liked to cross and twist the barbed wire. We found little tufts of coarse hair stuck to the barbs from where their bellies didn't quite clear the fence. We walked through wet spots, and up steep hills of rocky shale, and I found three or four new pieces of quartz for my hoards.
There was something about having a purpose that made the walking, the kind of walking we do all the time, feel different. I wouldn't want to be tied to a fence all the time, especially when I chafe a little at them normally (all those artificial divisions) but it was nice, that day, to have a reason. Not just out for a wander, but on a walk that we had to finish. Maybe it's just because I'm goal-oriented--I like the satisfaction of seeing a job well done and finished--but I tell ya, there's something about a fence walk that'll give you a perspective on land that you might not have had before. Probably it would lose it's luster after oh, say, a few thousand acres of walking it, but on Wednesday it was exactly what I needed. Here's to finding the small acts that make our souls satisfied.