Andy Rieber is a freelance writer and photographer who specializes in ranching, livestock, agriculture, and rural Americana. Her published stories on people and happenings in the ranching world cover a broad range of topics, from the cultural phenomenon of neighboring among ranchers to commodities hedging for profit.
I live in Adel, Oregon, on the western rim of the Great Basin. There's a lot of sagebrush out here, a lot of cattle, and a lot of space. We don't have cafes, art galleries, brew pubs, or yoga studios, which I guess keeps the population low—about 70 at last count. The basin and range topography of this place is empty and open, punctuated by ancient tilting bluffs, shattered rimrock, and itinerant herds of pronghorn antelope. From this remote outpost, I live, write, and do as much cowboying as time and body allow.
Body only allows so much. For fourteen years, I've battled with Lyme disease. I never planned to get a chronic illness, but it wouldn't have mattered much if I had. No degree of preparation can ready you for this cruel intruder. But Lyme brings other things, too. Courage, if you can find it. Friends, sometimes where you least expect them. And a rare opportunity to really choose what kind of stuff you're made of: soft or firm, dull or bright, earthbound or airborne.
For a prospector of stories like me, this little-traveled corner of America is a vein of gold. It's a land of stories. The rancher sons and daughters of Irish immigrants, cowboys, hunters, wanderers and diggers of buried treasure—everyone out here knows something. Maybe it's about the Irish who left their green little gem of an island to trail sheep and cattle among the black volcanic rocks and sage. Maybe it's about working for tough cow bosses on the big outfits, or riding rank horses. How to turn a cowhide into a beautiful set of rawhide reins. A haunted ranch standing empty on the desert. Petroglyphs. Sunstone mines. Opal mines. It's all out here; just ask the right people.
Some folks wonder how it's possible to fend off boredom so far from the amusements of Wal-Mart and Starbucks. I'll tell you, it's easy. There's enough art and history in our remote little neighborhood to crowd a museum's halls and pack the basement, besides. Just walk out the door and look around you. As for characters, good luck finding any collection as colorful. So I'll stay right here with the rimrock and the sagebrush, moving cattle and funneling ink through this pen. Drop me a line, if you get a chance. Or send a smoke signal.
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Content copyright . Andy Rieber. All rights reserved.