About 15 miles from the tiny town of Mancos, Colorado, way up forest service road 559 sits a small cabin in the middle of a 1000 acre tract known as the old Porter Ranch. My good friend Jarred Adair works for the man that owns this amazing place. Nestled in an Aspen and Ponderosa forest at about 8500 feet they run about 60 head of cattle during the summer months. Jarred and his family come up here every year to mend fence and run other ranchers cattle off the property in anticipation of their arriving herd. When I arrived they had been up there 9 days. The cabin has no cell phone service, running water, indoor plumbing or electricity. Cards and board games next to a campfire right outside the door of the cabin are the nightly entertainment. A step back in time. I recently went and spent two days with them, and what an awesome experience I had!
I have structured my life around being able to recreate over the last year and have decided to document my experiences here. I no longer own much and have reduced my life down to a minimalist existence. I do not have the “normal” things weighting me down. No mortgage, yard work, chores, and very few bills. With this comes true freedom and I don’t owe anybody a dime. Not a bad way to be in this day and age. I truly feel sorry for the poor bastards cutting each other off in the line at Starbucks and I refuse to live that way……
Jarred and his family are part of my “river family” and I have rafted so many amazing rivers here in the southwest with them. He is the funniest mother***** I’ve ever met and a wise man beyond his years. He calls it like he sees it and won’t sugarcoat anything. I think this is why I like him so much, a**holes gotta stick together. He told me this chick once called him “sadistic and abrasive,” his reply was, ” I’m NOT sadistic! But I won’t argue with the abrasive part!” Now that’s funny.
I arrived late on a Friday afternoon, Jarred and Co. had just returned from a day of mending fence. Do you have any idea how big 1000 acres is ? I didn’t, but its 1.5 square miles. That’s a lot of fence, and with the bad winter we just had it was a mess. That, along with the 200+ head of other ranchers cattle that had migrated on to the property thru the broken sections in the fence line it is quite the job to get the ranch ready for the season.
I had brought movies for Jarred’s two daughters since neither one had TV for the last two weeks.They were stoked and I was a hero in their eyes….. Annie had the only power on the property ( I have a solar system and every one was jockeying to get some for their power fix! ), so I got them situated while Jarred, his father in law Hubert, and his nephew Brandon were saddling the horses to go push the last four stragglers off the property.
Now, I’m no cowboy ( I grew up at the beach remember?) , but I wanted to experience what a real life goat roper does. So I jumped on the “buggy” and followed them out to help search for the cows. Let me add that finding four animals on a thousand acres is like looking for a needle in a haystack…..
Brandon and I went set off in the logical direction with the four wheeler and dirt bike hoping the noise would push the cattle towards Jarred and Hubert, who were stealth on horseback….
After about an hour of searching we finally located two of the four head and the boys went in to action. I on the other hand had no f****** clue what was going on so I just sat there in my flip flops and watched!
Well, they got away. When cattle are “herded up” they are much easier to push. They will either get them off the property or they will starve to death next winter. Taking another mans cattle to market is a BIG no-no.
It was getting close to dark when we returned, so we settled in, played some gin rummy and chess by the camp fire while the girls made some Wilbur (the pig we murdered in an earlier post) chili. I’ve never met a man who spends so many nights a year by a camp fire. I am truly jealous of Jarred’s life. He once told me “We may be poor, but we’re rich in SO many other ways.” I agree brother, It ain’t all about the money!
That night I slept better than I had in months and awoke the next morning to some “cowboy coffee” with my foo foo creamer. I know it sounds gay, but I gotta have it, and after I “greased” my insides with the nectar of the gods I had to take care of natures business and retired to the facilities.
Shortly after that I unloaded my dirt bike that I travel with off Annie and geared up to go check out the old Porter homestead cabin while Jarred and Co. loaded up for the days work. Three adults, three kids and six hound dogs piled in the truck and the buggy and they were off. I said I’d catch up later and lend a hand and headed off towards the old homestead.
I was told that an old woman lived here up until just a short time ago. She died in the cabin over a winter and the inside is just how she left it. Covering the walls there are names carved into the logs that go back a long time!
After returning to the newer cabin I set off to go find Jarred . They were working way up a fence line repairing the many holes and replacing staples and fence stays as they went. It’s slow tedious work but has to be done. I jumped in to help and Jarred told me that “I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but I ain’t never seen nobody mend fence in flip flops!”
Later that afternoon there was a storm looming ominously. I didn’t want to have to mud bog out so I said my thank you’s and headed back to Annie to try to beat the storm. On my way out I passed the polygamist compound of Warren Jeffs. He was on the FBI’s ten most wanted list and is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) a polygamous Mormon spin off. This is the sick f*** who is doing life plus 20 years for raping two underage girls in the name of Jesus! I still don’t get the whole Mormon “magic underwear” thing…..And I think I would make a bad Mormon since I hardly ever even wear any!
I am truly a lucky man to have these good friends, good company and life lasting experiences and memories. And I can honestly say that I “cowboyed up” and “got er’ done” at least once in my life!