May

29

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(Click here for pictures I took at The Hideout)

I posted more pictures from my trip to The Hideout. These are a sample of the ones I took (the previous batch were taken by Katie, the staff photographer at the ranch). Over the weekend, I’ll post some more pictures, and also make some of my archived pictures more easily available.

May

28

More Animals

May 28, 2004 | Leave a Comment

This is getting ridiculous. Over the last year or two we have collected a motley assortment of animals, at Orla’s instigation. There have been Gin and Tikki (Gin, alas, has gone the way of a good Gordon’s and tonic); 6 rabbits (of whom two are still with us); two dogs – Laoise and Henry and God knows how many fish (we suffered another casualty today, with the demise of Dennis (although Nemo, Orla’s clown fish, and assorted shrimp, snails and a star fish are still breathing (if, in fact, that’s what fish do)). (Actually, it was Big Dennis that went to the big river in the sky. Little Dennis is still alive. Blacktail copped it, too. As did the two zebra fish (Zebra One and Zebra Two), and a purple fish named Flower). Then there’s Trunket, her pony, and Marengo, my horse. And Cheyenne, our other horse. (And who else, but Orla, has a pet fly ? Named Flyee, of course. Oh, actually, Flyee was her butterfly. Her pet fly is called Pet).

And that’s not to mention the various skunks, possums, baby robins, red cardinals, deer, wild turkey and squirrels that hang out in the garden.

So, in my naivete, I assumed that our menagerie was sufficiently diverse – and extensive – to satisfy the most animal-loving of animal lovers. But then, I reckoned without Orla and Jennifer.

No, they want to open up a zoo here. So it’s probably no surprise to anyone other than me that I arrived home from work today to discover the latest additions – Speedy, the turtle, and five (five !) chameleons.

Now I know what you’re thinking. So many animals – how to name them all. But don’t worry, Orla is a past master at naming her pets. The chameleons are called Carson, Rainbow, Shark, Brian and Dada. (Okay, so Eoghan named the last one. And his turtle, which is on order – he’s already named it Tucker).

Orla, surprise, surprise, has decided that she wants to be an animal doctor when she grows up. She carrys Speedy (that’s the turtle, in case you’re losing track) around in a little case, and Eoghan carrys his chameleons (or anoles) around too. In fact, Orla wouldn’t let us have a family outing to the cinema today -

Daddy, we can’t go – who will babysit Speedy ?

Jenn claims it’s all due to the homeschooling; I guess the kids are certainly learning something – when I came in today they presented me with their latest artistic masterpieces, Matisse impressions.

I’ve just given up, and figure that so long as I don’t find a tarantula (there’s one for sale in the local pet shop) in my bed, I’m okay.

May

15

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(Click here for the album pictures from The Hideout)

I’m back home after spending 10 wonderful days in Marlboro country, ridin’ the range and living out my John Wayne fantasies. And boy, it was sure hard to come back to New York. I almost asked Jenn to pack up the kids and move out to join me in Wyoming. I was staying at a working cattle ranch, called The Hideout, located at the foot of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming. The ranch runs about 1,000 cattle on 300,000 acres in some spectacular country, and features prairies, creeks, desert and mountains.

The Hideout is an authentic ranch; we spent almost all day in the saddle, sorting or driving cattle, checking fences etc. One day was devoted to branding calves; I learnt more than I ever felt I needed to know about castrating calves…  The hard riding tired out even the best of horses; as a result, we didn’t ride the same horse each day. That meant that we got to try different mounts in the course of the vacation, which provided a great learning experience. Pretty soon it was obvious how horses that looked similar could have wildly differing personalities.

And it wasn’t just the horses that got tired out. A day on the range or in the mountains would wear out anyone; after a shower in my log cabin I had to drag myself over to the main house for cocktails and dinner.  Of course, one of the main reasons for picking The Hideout was that it provided great meals; instead of the more traditional pork and beans, we were treated each night to sumptuous gourmet dinners. The one thing I was a little wary of was encountering prairie oysters on the day we spent branding, but fortunately fish was on the menu that night.

The life of a cowboy is a hard one, and a lonely one too. As a result, there’s a great tradition of cowboy music. One night after dinner we were treated to a concert by Stewart, one of the wranglers, who performed oldies but goodies such as El Paso, The Streets of Laredo, and Red River Valley, as well as some more recent favourites. I trust we were more receptive than his usual audience, the cattle.

The Hideout located in the heart of the west – the Little Big Horn river flows in this country, and of course is famous for a battle that occurred there. The ranch is only 50 miles from the town of Cody, founded by Buffalo Bill, and features an impressive museum devoted to his memory, housing magnificent collections of firearms and the Whitney Museum of Western Art. A little further to the west is the spectacular Yellowstone National Park, with its varied wildlife including buffalo, elk and bear, and impressive geysers. I spent a day exploring the park (by car, since it encompasses an area of 2.2 million acres).

The weather was great for most of the trip, with highs in the 80’s and 90’s, although on one day we had snow. The ranchers were probably pleased to get some precipitation; Wyoming is suffering through a 6 year drought, and water is in short supply. Much of the land is not very productive unless irrigated.

On Thursday morninng I spent some time looking over the site of a proposed ranch development, where some homes will be built. Who knows, perhaps we’ll buy a place to get away from it all. I was sad to leave – although of course I was looking forward to be getting back to the family in New York.

The kids are thrilled at their daddy’s return. Orla had her riding lesson on Trunket on Friday; it won’t be long before she joins me herding cattle in Wyoming. In the 10 days I was away, Eoghan learnt to count to 10, and now knows his colours, as well as developing the Haughey temper…


May

1

Today Jenn took the kids to the carnival. Orla is a daredevil – she went down a 50 foot inflated slide by herself five times. She also climbed up a 10 foot (inflatable) rock wall by herself. Eoghan went down the slide, too, but he took the easy way – in Uncle Justin’s arms. He didn’t get the opportunity to show off his rock climbing ability because he was too small :-( Both the kids enjoyed getting their faces painted, and painting ceramic elephant vases for their Daddy.

Everyone is still recuperating from the flu. And soon I am heading to Wyoming.

We’ll be posting lots of pictures in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Orla had a heart to heart talk with me.

Daddy, I want to be an astronaut !

Why ?

Because then I can go and walk on Luna, and talk to her.

She also told me that she wants to add to her menagerie :

Daddy, I caught a firefly and made a wish.

I wished for an alligator that doesn’t bite. I also wished for a unicorn.

Mama told me my wish might come true in a few days.

Jenn’s homeschooling must be working, because over dinner last night when I spelt z-e-b-r-a, Orla said

Daddy, why are you spelling zebra ?

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