The North wind can really blow on the Millville Plains. Saturday April the 30th, 40 mph gusts pelted the Ranch all day. This time of year when the grass is tall and the wind is blowing it feels like you’re in the middle of an ocean. It’s sort of mesmerizing, even a little nostalgic. After a few hours your face starts to dry out and you begin to feel the wind burn. If you’re anything like me, about now you’re wondering how the pioneers managed to survive on the Great Plains and it’s a little easier to understand what Prairie Madness was all about.
I’m guessing that the ten or so people that attended our packing clinic were thinking the same thing as they led their pack animals through the tall grass and wound their way to the top of the mesa.
This was the culmination of three days of horse and mule packing instruction. George, our packing instructor, had spent hours teaching the finer points of surviving a pack trip. Saturday was his final exam. However, no one expected it to take place in a driving north wind. All of a sudden the test difficulty factor doubled.
In spite of it all, George’s students managed to throw the double diamond hitch and the box hitch on their horse and mule packs. Which, is a little touchy when the north wind is whipping top covers (manties) around a mule or horse’s head. After George’s close inspection they headed for the top of the mesa to set up a mock camp, the second page of the test.
In a grove of oak trees at the top of the mesa the first step was to set up a high line to tie the mule and horse to. Then, they unloaded their packs and unsaddled the animals. Did I mention that the wind was blowing ten miles an hour harder on the top of the mesa.
They spent an hour or so at their mock camp contemplating the past three days, reviewing George’s lecture points and taking in a beautiful view of the Millville Plains at the peak of it’s Spring Bloom. An unforgettable end to a very blustery day at the Ranch.
Tom is one of the founders of Trailhead Youth Ranch. He has been involved in Christian ranch and horse ministries since the early 1980s. Trailhead Youth Ranch is the culmination of 35 years of experience at various related Christian ministries.