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  • tklees01

In Reflection (2017-2019): Ranching

The one aspect of my life that I continually missed while traveling coast to coast working horses was ranching! Where ever I was in my travels I always had this trapped feeling or rather a sensation of imprisonment that was in an odd way weighing me down. How did I choose to deal with this obvious feeling I couldn’t ignore? My answer at the time; blind and relentless action. This took shape in the form of more horses, more work, and ultimately no “free” time. How can you miss something that you have no time to dream about?

Luckily for me, the mountains are very persistent in their request. The calling to live and work in the mountains never relented. Day after day, the known fact continued to steep with more potency until that brief pause in the day would inevitably confront my life. A little voice synonymous with the ever brewing picturesque daydreams forming in my mind being seamlessly integrated with the perfect sounds of nature playing in the background with subtle whispers in my ears reverberating little phrases and words teasing me with what other life I could or should be living. This seemed to happen more and more as the days passed, ideologies forcing themselves into any second of free space within my mind. Eventually, I had to take pause and reflect deeply upon my life and where I wanted to be heading. Otherwise, I risked completely depleting my life-force trying to resist my own soul, rather than fulfilling its obvious needs.

Looking back now it’s just funny, but at that moment my life was in the balance. I was literally on track with every part of the life I previously wanted. The hardest part of it was all over. I had the reputation, results, horses, clients, notoriety, and more money than I had ever dreamed possible in the horse industry doing what I was doing. As I continued on, I became more empty, even though I “had It all.” The future as it was had nothing but fame, fortune, and success as it has been portrayed through the media outlets as we know them today.

So why then did I feel more lost and empty than ever? Could anyone leave everything they worked so hard to create behind for the unknown? Maybe I just need to suck it up and push harder, ignore my soul by continuing to pile more on my plate? Oh how trying those times were. I sure feel the decisions I made at that time were the difference between choosing life and that of literal or metaphorical death.

Nothing can rival the time spent in nature amongst all of its elements in order to create a more productive setting to maximize the ranches’ efficiency and effectiveness. The main production on the ranch here being for the horse operation. Every action taken on the ranch is around simplifying the daily tasks, effectively using every square inch of the property to produce for the horses and the efficiency at which everything is maintained for the future. This has taken shape in forms such as fencing to expand the perimeter or creation of new pastures, clearing deadfall or thinning out the forested pieces, the never-ending battle to keep the sage off the meadows, building of ponds to create natural watering holes for the horses, and the list goes on to infinity.

That infinity piece is my favorite! No matter how hard I work or obsess over ranching, there is always more to be done. Ranching is a never-ending supply of boredom fulfillment out in the wild. At any point, if I need to get outside and air out (after some life coach calls, reading, or writing sessions,) all I need to do is step outside the door. This was the piece of my life I missed most, the ability to step outside and have the infinite source of entertainment at my fingertips. No money is necessary, no traffic, no planning, just a step outside and I am free. That doesn’t mean that I am only working, I love to just walk around the property admiring the infinite detail that resonates within everything right in front of me.

I get to see the mountains slightly different in the way the light hits the peaks and the silhouette of the mountains change with the seasons as snow accumulates or dissipates. I get to see the imperfections of the snow become smoothed over by the drifting pixies of snow floating across the flats waiting to find a resting place. I get to watch the shadow play of the trees on the snow-white meadows or the mountains creep ever farther across the vastness of the valleys. I get to witness the alpine glow of the clear evenings as they creep from low too high. I get to observe the mysterious clouds display arrays of color I never thought possible twice a day as the sun climbs quickly over the mountains or creeps back down the distant mountains at night. I get to experience the feeling of grass running through the palms of my hand as I watch the horses graze in the peace of the evening. I get to do all of this while riding horses and tending to the ranch within each and every day.

For just a handful of these descriptions above, I am forever grateful for each and every one of the moments I get to continue to witness by just living my life. The longer I am here, the less distance I have to cover to be enamored in the details of nature. While nature has so many fluctuations that we deem erratic or unpleasant, It is all so effortlessly fluid in its similarities. The snow-covered meadows are symmetry to the sand dunes of the dessert or smoothness to the waters of a windless feature. The endless cycle of being born, growth from infancy to full maturity, from full splendor to withering death, to dormancy, and eventual rebirth upon the season. Everything we know as humans can always be related back to nature.

Can you imagine being human without nature? Could we have even made it this far without the example of the wild? Nature was the first teacher, mentor, and leader to the human race. We have been formed by nature and continue to be formed by it. This is the most humbling piece of getting to spend every day outside, I get to relate my experience back to earth and back to myself. If I can’t relate my experience through that filter, I know I am in the wrong or way off course.

I find deep compassion through the earth, through nature, horses, and ranching. I get to work with the land, with the elements of nature, in order to learn! I get to make changes through different processes in order to not only create better results on a specific project, but I also do not waste anything from one project to the next. If I dig drainage ditches and find rocks or have leftover soil, I get to reuse that somewhere else to strengthen a damn or build up a low point. I get to watch as the sagebrush disappears from the meadows and how the snow reacts with the wind differently without the sage there. I get to watch the herd of horses change the land and produce better growth through proper grazing and the spreading of their manure back over the land. I get to use my physical being to create something of deep worth to me and in return, nature continues to guide me towards refinement.

Nothing happens overnight here, in fact, progress happens so slow here I don’t even notice It. I just keep coming back day after day, chipping away little by little, until one thing is complete then moving on to the next. All I know is that at the end of the day when I look out over the land and the horses grazing, that something deep inside me has been fulfilled.

I don’t believe there is any better teacher for us humans than to be in nature and learn from its ruthlessness. The real question I find myself thinking though, can we really learn from nature without being taught how to observe, relate, or compare to it? This doesn’t happen in a day, this happens over years and the exposure to so many different seasons. Every day is different and every season is different, can I continue to raise my awareness to learn from the infinite lessons and detail that nature exposes me to in my daily life?  I have no idea, but I relish every day I get to try to decipher the endless code of working amongst the land.

I am curious to hear from your perspective on how you may relate your discipline to other sources of experience. Mine being horsemanship to ranching to life coaching to nature. To me it’s all the same, it’s singular, it’s universal. What is it to you?

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