• The Principal Pye

The Wyoming Field Station

Updated: Feb 28, 2018

"And you may find yourself Living in a shotgun shack And you may find yourself In another part of the world And you may find yourself Behind the wheel of a large automobile And you may find yourself in a beautiful house With a beautiful wife And you may ask yourself, well How did I get here?"

'Once in a Lifetime'

by Brian Eno, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth

In this dystopian reality through which everything seems to be filtered I can't help but recall this iconic anthem from grad school. Last month I was setting up shop back in Northern New Mexico, where I thought I was in familiar territory but nothing was as I had been lead to believe, in terms of being able to set up a field office for my work. The move from Colorado Springs had kicked my ass, as it was, but the constant technology crises, along with unanticipated caretaking responsibilities of dogs and chickens and a grouchy turkey that came with the place, had me chasing my tail during the holidays. With the collapse of all communication on the first real work day after the holidays, I realized the homecoming to my beloved New Mexico would pose more challenges than I had the resources to manage.

"And you may ask yourself How do I work this? And you may ask yourself Where is that large automobile? And you may tell yourself This is not my beautiful house! And you may tell yourself This is not my beautiful wife!"

The first few days of 2018 were consumed with questions: "How do I work this?" among them. I had just sunk every cent I had, every ounce of energy, into making this move to New Mexico happen. But it would not be possible to stay, not with these conditions. "So, now what?" I need to find another field office. Circumstances suggested heading back to Wyoming where most of my belongings are still in storage.

The ranch needed someone for a week to keep an eye on a few hundred alpacas, some horses, pigs, emus, peacocks, chickens, cats, dogs, and such. "I can do that!", I told myself. So, I packed the truck again, stuffed the cats back into the demon pet crates, and made a 14-hour straight run north to Clearmont, WY, cats screaming at me and adrenaline fueling white-knuckle anxiety the entire way. One stop for fuel and for Diva to pee, no food or beverages along the way. I held my breath all the way from Buffalo to the ranch, the 'low fuel' light flashing its anxious warning, as I crept through heavy snowfall in four-wheel drive that last leg of the trip. There was nothing left on the Paypal card. At least I had a cell phone this time.

"And you may ask yourself What is that beautiful house? And you may ask yourself Where does that highway go to? And you may ask yourself Am I right? Am I wrong? And you may say yourself, "My God! What have I done?"

Things are in flux here at the ranch. 'Flux' has been my middle name for a while now. It was good to get caught up on all the latest, but much like the reality of my universe, things are changing fast. And we don't know from one minute to the next how this is all going to play out. But I have a new field office set up. Here in Northeast Wyoming. It might be for just a few days or a few weeks. We just don't know. At the most, I have about 3 months to pull off the next miracle and move to the next field station. If I manage to stay in the area here through the summer, I might just get that Basque oral history and foodways project started ... at least the fieldwork done. It is one of those personal projects I have been jonesing to do for a very long time. And one you can help fund by putting tips in my tip jar.

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