Before I came to Colorado, the word “ranch” meant the salad dressing to me. But then I knew “ranch” also means a farm for horses when Helen told we were going to live on her grandma’s ranch for 3 weeks. Helen’s grandma Karen lives on an eleven-acre ranch that includes a house, a barn, an arena for training horses and many fences to keep the horses inside.
My first impression was…messy and smelly. I can see horse poop in the yard from time to time; inside the house there are hay pieces and animal hair everywhere. I am from a city and at that time I was not used to the ranch environment. I was like “oh wow, this is going to be…so different” at first. But now the three weeks have passed, I am very comfortable living here and I love how the ranch is so close to nature. I have got some ranch style.
Getting to Know Some Good Friends (And Feeding Them)
On the ranch I have learned how to get along with animals. Karen is taking care of twelve horses, one bull, one dog, two cats, three chickens and many bunnies. “Rein” is a lovely golden retriever that loves snoring on my foot. She is my favorite. According to Karen, Rein is a dog full of love and she gets along with all the people and animals. Rein used to take care of the baby bunnies, baby horses and kittens; she protected them and licked them all over. Yaki is a big lazy cat that collapses on the ground when I walk close to him because he wants to be petted.
I also got to know some horses. They are milder than my expectations. “Trouble” is a giant Longhorn bull. He often thinks he is a horse, probably because he is around the horses all the time. You can tell by how he swings his head all around and totally forgets his long horns. It is fascinating that every animal has its own personality, just like humans. Some are stubborn, some are calm and patient, and some are lazy.
Horses eat hay. Karen usually gets the hay from another ranch, which is about one hour drive away. Karen took Helen and me to get some hay once and we moved 50 bales of hay from the ranch to the truck. Every bale was hard for me to carry because they weighed about 75 pounds each and had spiky pieces of hay everywhere. Anyway, we got those hay bales back and fed the horses the proper amount every day. Horses do not know when to stop; they will keep eating until they feel quite uncomfortable and eventually die if not taken care of.
Helen also taught me how to pick the fresh eggs from the chicken nest. We had fresh eggs most of the time. They were yummy.
One day Helen took me to one of the Colorado rodeo competitions. Rodeo is a type of competition with roping, synchronized riding, and riding wild horses and bulls. It is a popular activity in country areas like in Colorado. We went there and I realized I was the only Asian in the whole stadium. I joked to Helen: “We Asians tend to do safer and more peaceful sports.” Most people dressed like cowboys or cowgirls – jeans, boots, and cowboy hats.
I had never seen a cowboy in real life before. Their actions interested me. During the rodeo competition, I watched scenes that I only watched on television before. Some brave cowboys were holding on an angry jumping bull and managing to hold on tight for 12 seconds. Some others tried to catch a running cow as quickly as possible. Helen told me rodeo is popular because those cowboys try to prove they are brave and the audience enjoys watching it, just like many Americans love the NFL. Their unconstrained living style fascinated me.
Before we came here, Helen talked about how she enjoyed riding horses every summer in Colorado. I was excited and wished I could do horseback riding soon. I was quite confident I would be a good horseback rider. However, when actually I got onto my horse and started to ride, everything became so hard. Helen told me to pull back the rein and say “ho” to stop a horse from moving. My horse “Covergirl” was a little stubborn. She moved around sometimes without my instructions. We first practiced in the arena for two times and then we went for a walk outside. After several times of practicing, I got slightly better but I was still very clumsy on the horse.
In contrast, Helen’s 13-year-old cousin knows horses very well and she is good at controlling the horses. I went to one of her horse training classes and I was very impressed to see that such a young girl could ride horses so well.
I want to thank Lafayette College for initiating the BOMA program. It allowed me to have a look at a different side of America. I had been living on campus so long, I thought of Easton as the default living environment in America. Colorado is truly another story. So fresh, so relaxing, and so energetic. I will miss everything here: the high mountains, the blue sky, the amazingly clear stream water, and the cute golden retriever. Goodbye Colorado! I will come back and visit again.