Digital Cowboy

Digital Cowboy
Poker is life. Life is poker.

Archive for the 'Ranch' Category

Cowboy Campmeeting

Monday, October 16th, 2006

I really did intend when I reworked this site to start updating it regularly again and now I will. But right after it went up, Cowboy Campmeeting started at the ranch. It tired me more than I had expected. I helped wrap the steers last Friday night after the service in preparation for the ropings Saturday, worked both ropings Saturday and then we had the family rodeo on Sunday. I needed a little time to recover. It was all fun but three church services, two ropings and a family rodeo in 48 hours wears ya out (in addition to generating more than the usual laundry burden).

One of my favorite muses once said that the smell of sweating horses was like ambrosia to her. I thought of her a couple times last weekend. In fact, I took one particular picture with her in mind and the evil intent of making her jealous but it didn’t turn out. (The description on the picture will explain.)

The ropings were a huge success. They were both team ropings. The Saturday morning roping was a four steer average with a nice saddle for 1st in the average, in addition to the prize money. There were nearly 300 teams entered.

The Saturday night roping was a progressive and what we refer to as a “church roping.” It’s an annual tradition at Cowboy Campmeeting. It’s a money-added, open roping. The church put up $3000 this year. The entry “fee” is that the ropers have to attend the church service just prior to the roping. As Pastor Butch said to them at the start of the service, “There’s no catch and we aren’t trying to hide anything. It’s simple as this: I’ve got a God so good and a message so powerful that I’ll pay you to listen to what I have to say because I know that if you listen, you’ll want to know my God and He’ll change your life.” The pot is increased by the offering in that service. Pastor Butch said, “We’re not trying to get anything from ya. Every dollar in this offering goes into the pot for the roping and we’ll let you know at the end of the service how much it is.” This year it was a bit over $2100, so the roping had a $5000+ pot.

It works. Cowboys (and a few cowgirls) come from miles around and even other states for a shot at all that free money. Every year there are testimonies from some that are back because they had a life changing encounter with God in some prior year. The fun part is that the ropers think it’s too good to be true. Pastor said they were still coming up to him during the roping saying, “When’s the other shoe drop? There’s gotta be a catch.” I think there were over 200 teams in that one and it didn’t finish until almost midnight.

I spent the day (and a good part of the night) Saturday “behind” the arena, at various times running steers, working the gates and stripping ropes in the exit chute. I got the chance to wrestle a few steers by the horns and got kicked a few times while pulling heel ropes without a hook.

If you’ve never had church in a rodeo arena, you don’t know what you’re missin’. We had three great church services in the arena. Friday night was my pastor’s pastor, Happy Caldwell. Now there’s a preacher with country cred. He started his testimony with, “I was born again Feb 11, 1972 at 11:01 pm at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. I didn’t know I was goin’ to the Ryman Auditorium to get saved that night; I thought I’s goin’ to see Johnny Cash.” He went on to say that it was Hank Snow’s son Jimmy that prayed with him that night and led him to Jesus.

Saturday night was Pastor Butch. I always love to hear him preach, but he was really “on” that night, preaching the real gospel in a style all his own. Sunday morning was Jesse Duplantis. Seein’ Jesse is always… well… there ain’t nobody like Jesse.

Your (roughly) regular updates will now resume. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Many of you have asked how life on the ranch is going. It couldn’t be better and it’s been quite busy lately. In fact, I have some big news to report. As of Sunday afternoon, I now have a bonafide rodeo champeen living at my house! My oldest daughter Katelyn took first place in the mutton bustin’ competition Sunday.Lookin' for 8! She was the only competitor that wasn’t afraid at all. Some of the kids chickened out completely once the sheep was brought out and the ones that did ride required a lot of coaxing to get them on. They also all cried when they fell off.

Not my cowgirl! Monty, the cowboy running the event, told me later, “She was the only brave one and she was fearless. She hopped on, grabbed hold and when she looked up at me she had that look in her eyes that I see with the ropers when they’re ready to have the gate tripped – ‘Let’s get it on!’” (I have another picture of her where you can see that laser focus while she’s riding but I didn’t post it here because it’s hard to see unless it’s at full resolution.)

ChampionShe rode for well over 10 seconds and she was the only one that didn’t get “bucked.” When she hopped off and came back to me she said, “Daddy, I could’ve gone longer but they told me to get off.” I said, “That’s fine, Sweetheart. That’s like makin’ the whistle at a bull ride!” “Well, can I go again?” Monty told me later that he told her to get off because the sheep was tiring out and it looked like she could ride all day.

Besides the trophy she won, the event payout was a big ol’ bag of candy and this was the real deal – in a rodeo arena with a crowd of spectators cheering. She even got to pick up her winnings at the pay window just like the cowboys do when they win the ropings. The trophy says “Mutton Busting – 1st Place 2006 – Covenant Ranch.”

Now she’s bugging me about building her a trophy shelf in her room. She’s certain that this is just the first of many rodeo trophies she’s going to win. She’s probably right. She’s also trying to use this new status as leverage around the house – “Well, Daddy, I am a rodeo champion!”

“Uh-huh. Get your room cleaned up, rodeo champion.”


Monday, June 12th, 2006

Just in case any of y’all thought I was exaggerating in the last post when I said my new place was exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or think, I threw some pictures up on my server. (The pages are sloppy. I didn’t take time to purty ‘em up. They’re direct page exports from iPhoto.) There are three pages of thumbnails that link to 800×600 pics with descriptions.

There are pictures of the cabin we live in. There are also some general pictures of the ranch and some of the rodeo arena.

God is good all the time. Living here is heaven on earth, just like He promised in Deuteronomy 11. We’ve been here for a week and a half now without any TV signal at all and we haven’t missed it.

Pit to palace?

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

The story of Joseph’s life in Genesis is one of a pit to palace experience. I never much cared to live in a palace. But I’ve always wanted to live on a ranch. As long as I can remember that’s been my dream. As a young child I asked my dad, “How much land do we have?” He told me we had “eighty-five hundredths of an acre.” (This was also a man that later told me he didn’t understand my math homework when I was in the 4th grade. I would never call him a liar, but he sure fibbed to me a lot. }:-)

At the time, it was only important to me as a curiosity. I didn’t care how small our yard was because it was surrounded by farms and my dad was known and loved by all of our neighbors. So I had permission from them all to ride my motorcycles on their land as long as the fields weren’t planted and I was considerate. (Daddy made sure I knew what “considerate” meant in that context.)

Growing up, my family only had eighty-five hundredths of an acre, but I had hundreds of acres to explore and play on. When I was about eight I could finally outrun my mother’s whistle. (That woman can stick two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrieking whistle that you can hear for at least a quarter mile.) I could ride and live and explore. I had alone time. Just me and that machine. We got so far from home. When you’re eight or nine, a mile away is another world and I could do it! That all played a large part in making me who I am. I was free! That’s where I lived every summer that I can remember – on the seat of a motorcycle that I called “Basket Case” because my dad literally brought it home in a basket of parts and built it just for me. He was the service manager at a Yamaha dealership at the time.

My Dad also played a huge role in building an AMA sanctioned motocross track around that same time. (I seriously doubt that is the track as it was then. Dad’s been dead for almost 25 years. But that’s the club and he was both an officer in the club and helped build the original track.) I spent many nights out there practicing the big jumps while Dad was mowing or moving dirt.

I loved the motorcycles and still do. I continued that love even after Dad moved on. But I always wished I had horses. I loved rodeo and I wanted to be a cowboy.

I worked at a rodeo this weekend. At the event, a man of about 70 (and a true cowboy in any way you define it) walked up to me and said, “Are you a cowboy?”

I said, “No. I’m a poser.”

He laughed heartily and said, “I always wanted to be a cowboy but I’m afraid of cows.” He then let out another hearty laugh. (I know the man a little and I suspect he’s roped more than a few.)

I replied, “I always wanted to be a cowboy but I haven’t been able to afford the horses, cows and land….. YET!”

He laughed yet again and said, “I like the way you think, boy. We should talk.”

Lest you think I have no point and this has nothing to do with Joseph’s story…

I pretty much lost all of that when my Dad was stolen from me. I was twelve when he went home. It wasn’t long after that that I decided I would never have children if I couldn’t give them what he gave me. I have two now so there’s no longer an option. It’s now a requirement. I’ve worked very hard at it and made some mistakes. I’ve faced some challenges and overcome most of them successfully.

Oooh, But God. I love those two words together. If you’re looking for something to study, go look up those two words in your concordance and see how many times they appear together. But God….

I found myself and children abruptly homeless a couple weeks ago on a Thursday night at about 6:45. When I say abruptly, I mean, blind sided and NOW. At the time, I had about 70 cents in change and my gas tank was empty. No problem. God will make a way. He always does. He usually does it before you need it. He sure did here. I’m not giving details, but I went from a bad situation for my children and myself, to homeless, to living my dream in less than a 24 hour period.

Anyone that loves us would be happy about that. Don’t ever again claim to love any of us if you disagree.

Here’s the high points of the details I’m not giving:

Tomorrow morning we’re picking up the keys to a log home on a 137 acre ranch. It’s a working ranch. The rent we’re paying is barely more than half of the place we moved out of. The rodeo that I worked this weekend wasn’t really a rodeo – it was a team roping competition – but it was in my new back yard, in a covered arena and they practice there every Tuesday night. We can walk there to watch in two minutes.

There is an elaborate playground that my daughters can walk to with their friends. (Most of whom live there.)

Two basketball courts and three stocked ponds where my kids can both catch the fish and feed them.

I almost forgot the baseball field.

I spent the weekend emptying garbage cans out there and picking up trash. It was dirty, ugly and nasty and I was smiling (almost) the whole time. I LOVED it. I would’ve done it for free, there. Then they paid me about ten times what I thought it was worth.

Deuteronomy talks about days of heaven on earth. I’ve seen it. I was smiling while emptying refuse. I was just glad to be there.

Starting tomorrow, we live there. My kids and I have a new address. We live at Covenant Ranch. That’s the desire of my heart. All I asked for was a roof and a shower and a couple beds. He gave me “exceedingly and abundantly above all I could ask or think.”