Farm Life: Rodeo

No Saddle

One advantage of living in a rural community is that you have a chance of getting to know your local politicians.  One of our County Commissioners heads up a bluegrass band, N2Picken, with some excellent banjo playing.  He shows up at all sorts of benefit events, especially during an election cycle.  Another runs a farm down the road.  In season, I might run into him at the local gas station, with a load of corn or other produce on the back of his truck.  Fort the last few years, he has brought the Bulls and Barrels Rodeo to his farm in the Fall.  

Ring, Crowd, and View

The rodeo is a community and family event.  One end of Teets Farm ( has a natural bowl where Lost River makes a curve, leaving a level area for the performance and a hillside for the spectators.  Parking is in the hay field, which as been cut by this time of year.  A concessions area is set up with BBQ’s burgers and steak sandwiches, kettle-corn, T-shirts, and other rodeo memorabilia.  Most folks bring lawn chairs or blankets and lots of children,

After the Fall

who are about as entertaining to watch as the bull and horse riders (plus we do not have to take any of them home with skinned knees, bruises, and soiled clothes).  After a week of rain, we had two days of sunshine to dry up the mud, but a cool evening to keep the dust and bugs down.

The events at this rodeo alternate between the adult competitors and local children and teenagers joining in various competitions.  Bull riding is a cowboy event.  Barrel racing is a cowgirl event.  Either gender can be decked out in sparkling caps, shirts, vests, and hats, or donning menacing black.  Either gender can make a thudding sound when they hit the dirt after a fall.  I hope they had lots of ice packs in the back area.

Rounding the Barrel

Bull riders aim to stay on for eight seconds.  When this occurs, both the rider and the bull receive points scores from the judges.  I understand this system about as much as Olympic ice skating scoring, but the rider who dismounted doing a back flip was awarded the highest score for the evening.  Barrel racers must follow a specific course around three barrels as quickly as possible.  Time, which is enhanced by accuracy of the ride, is the deciding factor.

Between these events are competitions among local children: pig scramble, mutton busting, and calf branding.  A pig scramble consists of a bunch of early elementary school age children and several small greased pigs in the ring.  Who even gets ahold of and hangs onto a pig first wins.  All that grease then holds the dirt on the child for the rest of the

Out of the Gate

evening.  This pretty much looks like the title announces.  We missed this event, which must have beens scheduled early in the evening.

Mutton busting is for later elementary age children.  With a bicycle helmut and life vest in place, the child places his or her arms around a sheep’s neck and tries to hold on for eight seconds.  Sheep can run a long ways in eight seconds.  Most of the children get a mouthful of dirt coming out of the gate.  Sheep can be erratic and sneaky too.  Two paired up at one point to push open the main gate of the ring.  They took off with

Hanging On

quite a bounce past the horse riders, trailer, and into a field.  The rodeo clown’s joke about, “Now we have a sheep scramble” got quite a laugh.

Calf branding is for the high school aged youth.  A bucket of paint is placed in the middle of the ring.  Teams of three have one brand and the assignment to catch, down, and tie the legs of a 200 lbs calf, then run back to get the brand, plunge it into the paint and run back to “brand” their calf, which hopefully the other two

Dusting Off

team members have kept on the ground.  The FFA team caught their calf first, but struggled to get it to fall over while the other teams got their calves more excited by chasing them in circles around the ring.  Eventually the three FFA student managed to use their collective weight to topple the calf to get the brand on.

The evening rounded off with a nearly full moon cresting North Mountain and Lost River and fireworks going off.  Making a local joke, the rodeo DJ played Guns ‘n Rose’s, Paradise City (“Take me down

Moon Rise

to Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”), which is in reference to a local strip club of that name.  We slipped away before the cars filed out to the single lane country road to have dinner at the Lost River Grill (plus inside toilets).


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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4 Responses to Farm Life: Rodeo

  1. The Vicar says:

    Ahhh, mutton busting. That reminds me of the year we attended the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, ID. There’s nothing like suiting up your 8 year old in a flak jacket and helmet, patting him on the rear, and telling him to make the family proud. As each contestant did their best to hang on for well beyond what makes sense to a city slicker, the crowd roared with encouragement. After each try, the children were dusted off and walked to the sidelines while the sheep were headed into a group at the far end of the arena by a couple of dogs. I’m assuming that mutton busting is done without consumption of alcohol (at least on the part of the child), though it may have been thought up by a few people with slightly impaired judgement. One boy hung on the entire length of the dirt rodeo grounds as the sheep picked up speed with every stride. Everything was going remarkably well until the sheep plowed into the pack waiting at the far end of the arena, turning the 8 yr old Buffalo Bill into a projectile. The layout 180, toes pointed and hands at his side would have made Olympic diver Greg Louganis proud. However the rotation ended with a back flop in the dirt which knocked the wind out of the little boy. We have a winner! You’ve got to love kids sports of all kinds.

  2. opusthedog says:

    My wife was a horse rider in her youth. During the learning process, they had what they called the “Dusty Bottoms Club”. Membership was strictly limited to those who earned their dusty bottom. Nothing like falling off a horse to get perspective and learn respect.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      As long as you bounce, it is fun. I have done rehab on enough fractured wrists, elbows, and shoulders from riding accidents to respect what something ten times your weight can do to you. I gather that your wife walked away with a different type of pride.

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