Dear Friends of WHR . . .
We can't believe its Christmas & New Years time again...Just off the heels of Thanksgiving ...Goodness how the time has flown by!
We are all tucked in toasty at the home ranch in Richland, Oregon again this winter. Stoking the wood stove and counting our blessings in our friends & God's continuous mercies of continued good health and a place to call home in our secluded, peaceful and bountiful valley with a mountain fresh river running through our property and a pasture rich with a handful of good geldings. This winter, though, Wil finally gave in at 80, and bought himself a hydraulic gas powered wood splitter for Christmas! Man is that easy, fun and saves his hands!
2021 was another year of pause for us. I in particular paused so much I never updated the website!!! I should be fired! Or was that retired!!! Can't quite figure that one out yet! LOL!
We stayed all here winter and spring though it felt weird not heading south to AZ anymore and and this year too. We spent most of 2021 focused on projects here on the home front, with our newly remodeled bathroom, and new enclosed sunroom on the cabin porch which allowed us many enjoyable days all year. On sunny winter days Wil enjoyed basking in the sun and watching the birds at the bird feeder while the warm sunroom gave reprieve to his arthritis. Come spring when it warmed up, we thought we'd take down the sun panels but, it quickly became evident that the new room would prove to be a wonderful year round addition, fending off spring windstorms and turning into a shaded & comfortable, command post- central perch for the "Chief" and his visitors, as the air conditioning rolled out into the new room to keep it cool and a delight as the summer season endured.
2021 Spring Reflections....
As we rejoiced in the blessing of Easter, the renewal of spring and the promise it holds we breathed in the fresh energy of the new season.
Spring definitely sprung the last week leading up to Easter! We a had glorious Easter weekend of 60-75 degree weather here in “our little piece of heaven” in Eagle Valley. Attending our two valley's joint Easter sunrise service, We didn't want to be late, so we camped up at the pass in our Mini Motorhome and were on time! for the breathtaking sunrise and celebration of our Lord's resurrection.
As daffodils were blooming, the pastures were meadow harrowed with the dried cow pies and road apples a’flying. Trees were trimmed, ditches & fence rows burned in preparation for irrigation season that started soon after. The mountains laden with snow capped peaks, their north slopes were slow to give way to spring melt because March remained very cold during the nights, freezing into the 20s most of the month.
Finally the horses were shedding, leaving piles of hair in the barnyard for the birds to carry off for nesting material. Canadian geese honked, cruising overhead every morning, as they made their way up & down the creek scouting their own nesting sites. The horses munching at their feed bunks never batted an eye as they'd go by, or at Wil's endless tractor loads of brush, clippings and debris headed for the burn pile in the back cottonwood lot. Spring consisted of it's usual routine of weed spraying, fence repairs and arenas dragged and groomed with the footing prime for riding albeit dusty this year, awaiting the spring rains. Life at the home place has a rhythm to the season. Though we had hoped to make a mid winter-break getaway , we were happy to stay on thru February & March.
On a blustery, windy and frigid day early in March, Beverly & Whiz Man, her favorite "go-getter" ranch horse were able to make a day for nearby ranchers and move their couple hundred head of momma cows and fall calves to their desert pasture some 10 miles away across Keating Valley to Virtue Flats east of Baker City. Nothing like a day behind cattle in sagebrush hills and sunshine, with good friends and good footing to work the horses with repetitive stopping and backing exercises in rating and reading cattle. A rarity among many unlearned cow people who think horses are only a "get by tool" for the job, but to actually make an art out of working cattle efficiently and quietly with low stress and train your horse to be a better mount and partner on the job, truly is a joy like no other.
We miss the years we cowboyed in Wyoming in big country amongst good hands and cowboys who took pride in their horsemanship & stockman-ship. If ever the opportunity arises, take it up, but a good dose of our Wil Howe Cow Working skills will help you make easier moves and be safer and more proficient in any cattle experience you may find yourself. Even die-hard cowboys can benefit and profit from it. Learning reading cattle, positioning and efficient use of one’s hands and leg aides. Ask about our Cow Working Clinics we still offer in the spring and early June.
We had return clients Ron & Linne’ Dodge of Hood River, OR join us back in mid March to ride and they fell in love with "CapNJack" to fill a missing void after losing "Everest". Such a good, all around, traveling-out, trail blazing horse. With more time now in their schedule, the newly retired couple are looking forward to more "horse time" as we all should be. It has been our greatest joy to help & train folks in making the transition from a part-time hobby into a more serious “way of life” with horses…good horses, well-mannered and well trained, allow for that to be successful. The Dodges returned in Late April for our Spring Tune Up Ranch Retreat April 22-25th , a good time and experience had by all.
Every Spring we encourage folks to take advantage of it and join us. See dates in the 2022 New Years Notice coming out soon or contact Beverly for more info at 541-893-6535.
Just about the time Beverly was getting her steady, personal mount, Sparkanic up to speed, conditioned & fit at 15, he had an unfortunate accident with a gate and suffered a deep laceration to his right hip about 15" long and a couple inches deep. God is amazing! when you think its over..., His amazing grace is there and the wound, with God's help, Dr. Tom Hill's guided hands and Beverly's doctoring perseverance it healed beautifully considering, and he is sound & useable and only a thin line of a scar across what once was a gapping hole from one end of his hip to the other. Glory be to Jesus!
And as He always brings His own home, Wil's 4 wheeler riding, tractor buddy, lap sleeping, best friend & cat, "Rifkin" of 14 years past on in June . Tears shed, hearts sad, but grateful too, for what an awesome cat Wil had the pleasure of loving. While all that was going on, Beverly took on another summer project with our carpenter and made another addition to the cabin, enclosing now the west side porch, creating an in house "cubby hole" office for herself. Living in a 600 square foot cabin for 30 years, she'll take any square footage she can get! Also, she took on the long over due task of applying a restorative log sealer by hand & paintbrush, bringing our 30 year old log cabin back to life!
Between the hot weather, irrigation and riding, keeping the yard and flowers groomed left little time for us to get away. But we did sneak in a couple local getaways, keeping life simple and close to home with visiting friends & relatives, training & mentoring a new horseman, reconnecting with an old friend we sold a horse to back in 1980, including a memorable ride in the Eagle Caps with him, & a Hells canyon Jet Boat ride , blackberry picking mornings and a surprise 80th Birthday Party in August for Wil here at the ranch with neighbors, friends and our own, very talented local bluegrass country band ...affectionately named "the Locals"!
As Beverly was able to sneak away for a few mountain getaways and gathers but not nearly enough to quench her "cowboying" heart, we longed to head back to Western Wyoming and Montana to reunite with dear horse friends and cowboy buddies... but there is always next year! 2022 here we come!
Endless Autumn & Fall Colors . . .
Fall turned out to be a glorious long one with mild temps all the way to Thanksgiving which lend to a slow continuous parade of colors that swept the valley...especially here on the home ranch where the Virginia Creeper ivy that engulfed the front porch this summer turned a blaze of oranges and crimson as did the aptly named Burning Bushes against a backdrop of sunny mustard yellow Maple and Cottonwoods trees and the emerald velvet lawn & pastures. A daily breathtaking sensory overload of ever expanding color, God's tapestry enfolding... and then dropping...the jewels of gold on the ground by the bushels ...or tractor loads shall we say!
A month long season of leaf blowing was upon us as well as harvesting our 3 wild apples trees. That was a sight now, Beverly in the tractor bucket at perilous heights with Wil grinning at the controls! Kind of like the old days when Beverly had the controls of the mechanical cowcutter! One apple picking sessions involved her using the 10 foot picking pole while riding Sparkaninc! We try to have all the horses "fruit picking broke" and that includes blackberries!
Our summer barn, ranch and horse helper, talented cowgirl & rancher's daughter, Taylor Brown, finished up her season with us the end of September and moved-on to school so Beverly resumed full duties and Wil managed his herd of feeder heifers.
We then purchased several hundred feet of gaited pipe for the 2022 irrigation season and that will be our spring project setting it up for hopefully an easier & efficient irrigation process in the future.
Also, September '21 marked our blue/red heeler, barking bundle of joy, Katie's, 10th Birthday! Wow! Beverly 60 in January, Wil 80 in August and Katie Dog 10 in September!!
In November we had a fun visit by long time friend, former WHR student and horseman, trainer, Craig Theissen & his wife, Sally who had hosted our clinics at their C&S Livestock Arena in Montestano, WA for 7 consecutive years in the 90s. Retired now, we hadn't seen them in years and enjoyed a couple days visit as they were on their way through, venturing south as winter snowbirds to AZ for the first time!
This made for a nice lead up to a very grateful Thanksgiving day as we counted our blessings rich in friends, actually enjoying an afternoon ridgeline ride with our good friend, Chad West of Richland.
Surrounded by our never tiring, gorgeous mountain and valley views & herds of deer up to 100 head. We were back at the ranch by 5pm and the turkey was done, perfect timing.
WHR Gelding Update. . .
After spending the summer cowboyed & doctored on & fall gathering on a ranch in Montana by a good friend, we got our wild marked stocking legged sorrel, "Jasper" shipped back home In October. In our herd 3 years, he now is awaiting his trailer ride to his new home this week, as he was presented as a "Christmas Gift" to some lucky folks in McCall Idaho who are working with our longtime mentoring, horsewoman & friend, Teresa Bateman of Lakefork, ID. Congratulations Wild Root Stables.
Now, we just have left our chestnut handy little package, Whiz Man, who's ready for anyone with a purpose! Trails or the ranch he is a seasoned & fun mount with a lot of grit. We also have acquired a new guy in string this past fall, a big unique, coal black & white Paint ranch cowhorse & rock pounding trail horse, "Magpie". This gelding is a Magic carpet ride! He single foots and can flat walk out and cover the country effortlessly, willing to please, handy broke , light neck rein, and gentle natured, "Magpie" can get to the top of the mountain and back before dusk! One of a kind in looks and travel-ability. Been ranch roped, branded and sorted on plenty. All business and quick to cattle, but just as soon hit a Mountain Goat path and truck to the back country for you. Both Whiz and Magpie would make a good pair on the ranch or in the backcountry.
When these last two horses get finished up and in well placed homes, that'll free us up to play, work on our “bucket list”, travel to see friends and horse people and hunt for another good prospect. or two, as they harder to find and higher than ever. First time in 45 years of marriage we will be down just to our two pets, Sparkanic & Waldo. Whew! Never fear, Beverly is still wild about horses and training so, we’ll see how long she can stand it without a "new" one to work! Ha!
A Request to WHR followers…
As time has slipped by so has some memory, so as I compile anecdotes for a book in the future, if you have a story about Wil, or your experience with him, and or what you learned or stood out most while at our Wil Howe Ranch School of Fine Horse Training, or from a clinic you attended, be it years ago , we’d love to hear from you. I have received many letters over the years but I still have people share new things we had completely forgotten we'd said that impacted someone in a positive way forever. Like this Christmas, getting a card from an old cowboy who at 83 still starts colts and works horses and credits his longevity at it to Wil with sharing with him to "always pray to the Lord before getting on." It is especially touching for Wil these days to hear these things. Thank you so very much and look forward to hearing from you.
Till our trails cross...bridle up and keep your mind in the middle, focused on the prize ahead. Be a good leader to your horse as Christ is to us. Love the ones you meet on the trail even if they curse you for riding a horse or if they are leading a blooming llama! the Gospel and its trail is here for all and its the only path that leads us up & out of this world turned upside down. "Fear not for I have come and redeemed you"... Immanuel... God with Us... the true Gift of Christmas....real Comfort & Joy.
Merry, Merry Christmas! and a Happy Happy New Year!
In His Spirit, Beverly & Wil
and Katie "Cabin Dog"