COWBOY LOGIC: Big backyards

TOWNER, N.D. -- Before we added on to my 896 square foot bachelor built ranch house, I'd always say, "The house is small but the yard is big -- about 3,000 acres big."...

TOWNER, N.D. -- Before we added on to my 896 square foot bachelor built ranch house, I'd always say, "The house is small but the yard is big -- about 3,000 acres big."

I wasn't bragging, but I had to find some advantage to our living space, especially when my wife would look longingly at people's 4,000 or 5,000 foot mini mansions in the big city.

"Yeah, it's nice," I'd tell her, "but look at the lot, that yard ain't even a half an acre."

Some of those half-acre yards probably would grow more grass than ten of our rangeland acres. But without a horse or a couple yearlings grazing that production, it's a waste of good growing conditions.

Our two boys are glad our yard isn't covered with thick turf grass. On our place, wherever the grass isn't growing, the sand is blowing. And little boys love that yellow sand we call our soil.


Ranchyard boundaries

Now that summer's here, it's nice to have the great outdoors just outside our door for the little tikes to run and play. They may want to stay inside to watch cartoons or play on the computer, but we put on their shoes and tell them to go and out and use their imaginations a little.

They play pretty well, too, and realize that not all entertainment comes from a video screen.

We're not always right next to them outside, though, so we try to establish some boundaries.

The fence that runs between our house and some planted ponderosas is kind of kid-proof. It once was fenced for sheep and has six strands of barbed wire. Not exactly a chain link playground fence, but they don't challenge it.

There's a two wire electric fence where our horses graze along the road. That's a "big ouchie" we instruct them and we tell them never to touch it. If curiosity gets the best of them, it doesn't take long for them to learn that mom and dad were right in their caution.

Otherwise, it's three barbed wires along some pasture, an open driveway and some steel cattle panels. Easy stuff to get around, through or over -- name your favorite preposition for a wandering kid.

Keeping track


The horizon is pretty open in our country, so you can spot a kid for a long ways if they wander off. Just to amplify our kid's spottability, we've been known to dress them in a little blaze orange, and not just during deer hunting season.

We got a dog, thinking that it would stay with the boys and if we find the dog we'd find the boys. As it turns out, all we find if we find the dog is the dog at his dish or in the best shade on a hot day.

Our cat is better about following the kids, but he doesn't always come when you call him and it's hard to spot a brown tabby tomcat in the grass. Maybe he should wear a little blaze orange, too.

For the most part, the kids are predictable. They're usually playing in the sand pile, making mud with the garden hose, picking grass and petting a horse, or terrorizing their mother's vegetable garden.

We doubt that they'll pick up and walk to the neighbor's place. And that's a good thing since the closest one is three miles away.

But if they're wearing their orange caps we can watch them go most of the way.

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