This is the kind of sunset Julie would find romantic, I thought as I looked to the West, reading the clouds, for a hint of the weather to come. Of course, women find these painted panoramas very romantic. For me, it was practical. Would there be rain tonight, at last, or is the dry spell destined to continue?
My crops were holding well despite the lack of rain, and the cattle were doing their best to stay in the coolies. I am not sure what these small valleys should be called scientifically, I only know that my grandfather, and my father both called them coolies. The obvious relief of a three-to-five-degree temperature change was attractive, even to the simple thoughts of cattle, when the sun was baking the hilltops into a hardened shell. But this lack of moisture had to end, and soon.
Earlier in the day, I visited the Southern fields, and took the heads of a sample of young grain. Rubbing the kernels between my palms, to remove the hull, and then putting them in my mouth. They did not readily turn into a gummy paste as they should. I spit out the failed test, and moved on. Yes, if we did not get measurable rain, I could expect to lose perhaps one-quarter of the crop price I needed. There is nothing romantic about that.
Dog had come with me to check on the cattle, and now he was done chasing his rabbit, so he was laying at my feet with his tongue hanging down to the ground. He was panting to expel the heat of the chase. He looked up at me with some expectation. This was the daily ritual during the dry spell. We would go out to check the cattle, and the sky. He would chase some critter, and I would stare out-and-away, until the sun finally went below the baked hills. Then, we would get back in the pickup, head for home, and a long, cool drink.
Some of my city friends think my work is somehow noble, and honored. Some think it is work that is beneath them. Dust and muck, along with the physical labor, and the callouses were to be disdained. To me, it was just work. The way I feed my family. The way I contribute to the table of others. I find it hard to understand some folks. Everything on the ranch has a role, and a function. The world around us is no different. Each person has a role, and a function. It was just logical.
“Dog!” I said, and he jumped into the back of the truck. I stepped up, and drove to the house. Julie would have something good to eat, and iced tea. The thought of the sound that the ice made against the glass was an enticement to drive fast.