Monday, August 1, 2011

I'll take the half rack of ribs, hold the sauce please

A few months ago on one of our trail rides, Lucy and I came upon a relatively fresh dead cow. We spent a few minutes mourning the dearly departed creature, then our my thoughts quickly transitioned to how we were going to get the bones home when it was time (time being that point at which the grossness had decomposed).

The cow carcass is on one of our regular loop rides, so every time we pass it, we stop to check in. Lucy was a little skeptical the first time we smelled /saw the dead cow. Now she's quite blasé about the whole thing. She knows exactly why we always stop at the last juniper tree on the right before we head south. And I'm sure she rolls her eyes and thinks "yep...still dead" every time we do.

Anyway, it's amazing what a few months in the desert sun will do to a dead cow. Yesterday, we decided the bones were dry enough to start bringing them home for our collection. You didn't know I collect bones? It's a New Mexico thing. There's something about finding a bleached white bone in the desert. You can't help but pick it up and bring it home.

There was a four-foot section of spine and rib cage that I thought we'd start with. Lucy stood very patiently while I tied it behind the saddle, but she may have been muttering under her breath about a certain someone having lost her freakin' mind. Once it was secured, I realized there was no way I'd be able to swing my leg an extra two feet high to clear the ribs. On to Plan B.

There was another section of bones attached to the neck vertebrae that would fit nicely over the saddle horn, but again I was faced with the challenge of getting in the saddle with part of a cow carcass in the way. So I stuck the half-rack of ribs on top of a fence post, saddled up, then rode Lucy over to it to pick it up. If this isn't good training for those competitive trail horse challenges, I don't know what is.

Since I didn't have a camera with me, I need you to picture in your mind me and Lucy, moseying the mile and half home with part of a cow carcass in my lap. One of my hands is sticking out between a couple of cow ribs to hold the reins, and the other hand is busy swatting away a gathering cloud of flies. And there's Lucy...shaking her head, taking me home, hoping nobody sees us.

We made it back to the ranch without incident. (Surely had I been riding a horse, he would have gotten western a few times and I would have been impaled with a beef rib. Try to explain that in the ER...) But seeing as how I was riding Lucy the most perfect saddle donkey in the world, no big deal.

Lucy: I cannot believe after all that, now you're making me stand here and pose? Get this thing off of me! It stinks!


Yeah, so it smelled kind of bad and my hands were all greasy and gross and there I was, taking pictures.
Now the Nikon smells like yesterday's barbecue left overnight on the counter,
but I have a new half rack of beef ribs to add to my bone collection.


How does one appropriately display a bone collection? I'm not sure. I just throw them in a pile...


...or two.


The only design rule I'm aware of is that the skulls must be displayed prominently to scare off trespassers.


Now that I have a willing accomplice, my bone collection is sure to grow.
In fact, we found another dead cow last weekend and are counting the days until we can bring it home,
piece by piece by piece.

42 comments:

  1. Lol... oh boy! You lost me there! Bringing back still smelly bones? NO FREAKING WAY. I'm delighted a blog doesn't come with the smells :)

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  2. I am sure when Lucy came to 7MSN she never imagined she's be doing such things, but whatta great girl to go along with her mom's wishes!

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  3. Today I´m really happy that there comes no smell out of the PC. You know, it´s my lunchbreak at the office here.....
    I knew you will follow through with bringing home the bones when I red this post half a year ago. What a nonstandard decoration!

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  4. I think you should number the bones where they lie, take photos, and then reassemble the skeleton when you get home. After the flies have cleaned all the icky off, I mean.

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  5. Collecting bones is an odd hobby, but I kinda get it. In my area, walking my dogs in the woods, I'll come across dead deer carcasses. I have been known to bring home the skull before :-) But just the skull....I don't need a rack of deer, although I am sure the dogs would disagree!

    So saddle donkeys are known for their steadfast, and non-panicky nature? Do they still canter like a horse or is the ride completely different?

    I've had quite a few broken bones that are testament to how stupidly spooky horses can be, that's for sure!

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  6. I think you need to bring a little point and shoot camera with you on future bone outings...it would fit perfectly in a cantle bag behind your saddle.

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  7. Lucy is the ultimate, most fantastic, willing to put up with your antics trail donkey. I hope you gave her a reward - a BIG reward - for packing out a dead body. or parts of a dead body!

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  8. Gotta love the great Southwest. If I tried that here in Virginia someone would surely locate an asylum and commit me directly to it. LOL

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  9. Anne Boleyn8/1/11, 6:04 AM

    I'm with Taryn; I totally get it. There is such amazing art in nature, so I bring home everything from sticks to rocks to bones to snake skins and feathers.

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  10. Yes, I hope you give Lucy a nice reward for being such a patient and understanding gal! I don't think any of my horses would put up with that!!!

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  11. I have a question, what did Smooch think of the bones or hasn't she seen them yet? Hope you have a great day.

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  12. "In fact, we found another dead cow last weekend and are counting the days until we can bring it home,
    piece by piece by piece."
    I think you are using the word "We" rather loosely in the statement above. Poor, long suffering, Lucy. :)

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  13. Um, wire them to the fence!?!? It's ok Lucy, yer mom will be fine as soon as she gets out of the hot sun and consumes a glass of wine (or 2) eh!

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  14. Estella from Co.8/1/11, 6:48 AM

    Never did the bone thing with her in Co., BUT she's soooooo good. It takes trust and you've got that going on. Hugs to kids for me.

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  15. Nancy in NC8/1/11, 6:52 AM

    Ok Carson - maybe you've been in the desert too long??? No, I take that back.... whatever rocks your boat...Lucy really did have a disgusted look on her face...just saying....

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  16. Are you trying to grow a boneyard? June had a good idea, to take a photo of the carcass as it lays and recreate it when you get home. Or you could make some art out of it as I've seen some people do.

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  17. What about using a travois? I'm sure Lucy would take to that as well as a stinky rack of ribs on her shoulders.

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  18. Taryn, when they see something new and potentially scary, donkeys are more inclined to stand and think about it, while horses would run off to the next county. Lucy can canter like a horse, but she is gaited, so her trot equivalent is delightfully smooth.

    Sheila, I have to keep Smooch away from the bones. I used to toss her a femur now and then to gnaw on, but our vet yelled at me. Smooch's teeth were wearing down because the dried bones are so hard.

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  19. What a great post! Love the bone pile. Surely there is something you can do with all those bones. Lucy is such a good girl for going along with your hobby. Not sure I could pick them up if they still smelled though. Yuck.

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  20. Oh Lucy: You truly are in the perfect place. You fit in so well!

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  21. Do you ever wonder what a future archeologist will think your collection of bones means?

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  22. I believe you are right about bleached bones being a New Mexico thing. Georgia O'Keefe taught us that.

    Lucy is such a patient girl. Perhaps a big sack would help, and gloves, or waiting just a wee bit longer to haul them home.

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  23. I am always on the lookout for a cow skull with a nice set of horns when I am out. I have been known to stash one behind a bush or something so it can properly "clean up" without someone else getting it before me. But if your hands were greasy, maybe it needed to stay out there a tad bit longer! :-)

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  24. An east coast bone collector tip: If there is still meat-ish residue when you get the bones home - laying them in a tray/box of salt works really well to speed up the drying out / de-greasing process :)

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  25. I LOVE it! I've been a rock collector most of my life, and will move mountains to get my treasures (which would have no actual value to an actual rock collector,)home.
    Rocks don't smell like a dead cow though....

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  26. I just wish I had that kind of luxury here in WA, but Im not sure I would have brought all of the bones still smelly, but the skull, definitely. Maybe I would have pondered it more and come back with a sled or something - or better yet, the ATV and let that carry the stinking thing home!

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  27. I also love bones and have a fair number of them. My latest will be a ram we lost a year ago, that the critters dug up its carcass even though buried but not deep enough. I saw the head though out in the pasture this week-end, with the horns looking beautiful and will bring it to the house (when I don't have my grandsons with me). We also had a coyote skull (which will go to our son-in-law if it survives intact) and on the creek with the grandsons found where coyotes had killed a beaver baby (that skull after properly dried and getting rid of the groddy parts will go to a grandson who was with us when we found it).

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  28. My dogs want to know when they can come visit your yard.

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  29. "Yep... still dead". FUNNY!!!!!! :-)
    I remember standing with you, talking about your collection and trying to assemble the smaller pile into something familiar ("the tiny little crooked bone connects to the... knee bone?" lol). Congrats on the awesome new piece for your collection - Lucy is the perfect partner for your pursuit!

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  30. uh oh, I live in NM and I don't gots a bone collection. But I am a upcycle artist so I get it...sorta. My grandparents had a ranch in northern NM and my cousins would show me their latest and greatest bone discoveries when we were kids so....carry on the traditional NM Bone Gather my dear.
    And Lucy is the bestest...yay patient and loyal sidekick.

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  31. Yeah, in the first pic, Lucy looks disgusted but in the last picture after thinking about it she is very happy those aren't her bones!!! and this post made me think of the old time spiritual song, "DEM BONES" hehe Here's the chorus, now let's sing it together,
    Dem Bones, Dem Bones,Dem dry bones
    sing this 3 times and then the fourth verse is Now, hear the word of the Lord. Happy day for me, 36 years ago, I had a son!!!

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  32. Yeah a new hobby for me....but until I have something to ride home on, with the bones, I guess I will hiking it. Hmmm, though, I wonder if a miniature horse cart could pack home some bones?

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  33. I do love a critter that's not scared of the old bones. Lucy is a treasure for sure.

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  34. Chris in MN8/1/11, 11:19 AM

    OMG What a great find, I thought that I was the only one in the world that did this ! Usually I bring home deer bones.

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  35. I found a cow skull when I was in Colorado a long time ago. I can still hear my Mom ....."You're NOT bringing that into my house!" But I did!

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  36. OH HELL TO THE NO! I do see the beauty of sunbleached bones - but with all the gristly stuff still there?? I am WAY too much of a wuss - lol

    Carson, you ARE a rancherwoman extraordinaire!!!!! And as for Lucy - WHAT A TROOPER!! BIG HUGS for you :) :) :)

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  37. She is a gem, for sure.

    I'm surprised you haven't got enough bones to 'store' them by building a whole cow now! haha

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  38. OMG...how did you know that's my desktop image of the week?! (cow skull on fence) Seriously...you must have posted it a year or two ago and us TN cousins of NM bone collectors do the same thing. We still have a moving box labeled
    "Skulls" in the loft of the barn. *lol*
    Oh, you do have the most perfect mount in the country.

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  39. I can just hear her:
    First you put the skin of a dead cow on me. Now it's bones. If we get into bodily fluids, I'm outta here.

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  40. This puts a whole new spin on Johnny Cash's "One Piece at a Time"!!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

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  41. Carson, you're a sick puppy LOL! Actually, I share your fascination for such treasures.

    Poor Lucy had no idea what she was getting herself into.

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  42. This in wish I could have seen. LOL

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