Well, we got up early for the cattle drive, and finally we knew what we were going to do at 5:30 am. The night before we thought we might be able to walk along with the wagons, which is always a shorter route in this cattle drive; but now we know our fate.
The blisters I got the day before were worse than I thought. The one on my left foot that was doctored and bandaged was nothing, but the two on my right heel that I didn’t even realize were bad until I removed my sock was a problem. I’m the tenderfoot who is keeping us from walking today.
Our friend Edith hopped a ride on one of the wagons, but this cattle drive today was along the eastern shore of Lake Kissimmee, a special ride. Because they waded in water most of the day, the wagons couldn’t go with them.
Neither could the walkers, supposedly; but we have a celebrity walker with us. A farmer walked the entire route so far and yesterday walked with the cattle. Today, they tell me that he waded sometimes through waste deep water but never fell behind. They say he is a fast walker.
It seems there are only five walkers on the entire drive. I’m afraid I’m the least capable of the five.
Chuck yesterday pulled a groin muscle, but today was better. The day before, he went a little downstream of us looking for a better place to cross. I followed him as he approached what looked like a narrower part. He said, “I think this might…,” and I said, “Chuck, I don’t think…” And just like that he went to step across and slid right into the deep stream. I was going to tell him that it looked slick there and deep there. It all happened so quickly.
So maybe this day on the cattle drive was meant to be. He got to rest his groin muscle, and I got to give my feet a break.
We broke camp quickly after another wonderful breakfast. We hitched a ride with one of the stock trailers. They use the trailers to transport all the duffels and hay for the horses from camp to camp. They took us to the next evening campsite.
We got a chance to put up our tent early and let it dry out. We even got to sit and read. We’re in another large pasture but this one was a good pasture, free of briars and boggy areas.
The day before, the field we camped in was full of short briars. My dress, pantaloons and petticoats were constantly picking up the hitchhikers. Those darn briars were always grabbing at me, and my dress was like briar Velcro. My lower legs got all scratched up.
Also the field had ant beds. I was busy helping Chuck pitch the tent when all of a sudden I felt something biting me way up on one of my legs. I went to clawing and a stomping. Those darn things were in my petticoats.
I liked to never got them out of there and thought about just stepping out of all my skirts altogether. After all I’ve worn whole swimsuits with a lot less material than what was in those pantaloons. Just when I thought the situation was under control, I would feel another bite. We finally got the tent up enough so I could step inside and take care of the rest of the biters.
At lunch one of the stock truck drivers picked us up and drove us to the mid-day campsite. We got there just in time to watch the cattle come in. It was an amazing sight.
The young man is a fire rescue person from Indiantown, which is near the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. He also owns land and raises cattle. We enjoyed visiting with him.
When we got to the mid-day camp, everyone was talking about how pretty the morning cattle drive was. Lake Kissimmee is the third largest lake in Florida, and the area they rode through was where the lake was surrounded by pastures.
We met two little boys, who were there with their dad. One was nine and the other one was seven. They were there because their dad wanted them to experience this Old Florida tradition.
Both were super polite and very personable. It was “yes mam” and “no mam”, and they could both carry on good conversation. They told me about their Nana who had ten grandchildren, the oldest of which was 20 and the youngest was the younger boy talking to me. They also told me about their morning ride.
Next to the lunch camp is a little stand of pines, and up high in one of the pines is a very large nest. It is an eagle’s nest, and two eagles patrolled and fussed at us when we first arrived. Later, only one eagle was circling, and we saw a white head pop up from the nest once.
Many of us especially those of us older layed down in the grass and took a nap. It was very relaxing, though I did keep a sharp ear out for any runaway horses. I didn’t want my obituary to have anything in it about trampling horses.
It was a short drive this day, only about 8 miles altogether as the drive moved on after lunch for the three remaining miles to the evening camp. I could have walked it, I believe; but my smart husband pointed out that the skies were darkening and looking like rain. It could possibly rain on us before we got back, and we did not have our rain gear.
I agreed, and our stock driver took us back to the evening camp.
We got our first chance to sit down and sip a little bourbon while we waited for the rest of the group to come in which turned out to be a special treat.
We Watched the cattle driven in and all the horses and riders, too. It was a busy time with everyone setting up their camps all around us. They had to take care of their horses as well as themselves, setting up pens and pitching tents. Luckily, the horses were too tired to misbehave much.
It may rain tonight so we spent extra time staking down our tent. This ground is hard, and I pounded some extra sturdy stakes into the ground with a mallet. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll probably need a pair of pliers to pull them back out. Those were storm clouds earlier this afternoon, so we don’t want to take any chances.
I’m tired of wearing these long dresses, though they have been remarkably comfortable. I’m a fashion statement today in drab green. Actually, I did my shopping before I left at the toniest of boutiques called “Goodwill”.
I got the idea of simply wearing a long dark full skirt and white blouse from looking at old photos like the one below.
Also, Chuck and I recently watched “Lonesome Dove” again. I noticed that Gus’s longtime love Clara also dressed this way.