The Good, Bad, and Ugly Side of Workamping

We rarely talk about the ugly side of workamping here. That’s because we’ve rarely encountered any ugly workamping experiences. There is plenty of good, and some bad to be had while enjoying the workamping lifestyle. And then, there is ranch workamping.

suttom park
Lak San Cristobal, from Sutton Park

What’s Good about Ranch Workamping?

We love workamping at Vickers Ranch for many reasons. For starters, our ranch workamping duties are different every day. And on just about any day, you can’t beat the view. We love the people. We love the location. And we love discovering the new and exciting adventures any day might bring while working around the upper ranch.

lake work
Upper Alden lake expansion project.

There’s never a shortage of work to be had around the lower ranch too.

What is a Bad Workamping Experience?

First of all, know this: I have nothing against the manual labor of ranch working. Hecka, that’s what I’m here for! I sit in front of my computer all year round. I often tell myself, “sometimes I wish I could just go dig a ditch.” Well, here I am. And I am good friends with Manuel Labor. More about that ditch-digging later.

weed whacking
Weed whacking is sometimes a full contact sport.

In the Workampers Facebook Group Rene and I manage, I hear plenty of fun tales and nightmare stories about the good, bad, and ugly side of workamping. But we have never had the stereotypical campground or camp host jobs. We’ve done just about everything else. I may be a glutton for punishment, but we keep returning to Vickers Ranch.

Rainbow on Gold Hill

As Larry says, “It don’t get no better than this.” There’s another reason we call it Gold Hill. Of course, some days are darker than others.

vickers ranch
Morning at our workamper RV site.

I’ve seen workampers complain about bad bosses and bathroom catastrophes. But I doubt many have enjoyed such an ugly side of workamping as I have as a ranch hand.

The Ugly Side of Workamping

It may be a bad thing when you get called into work early. It gets ugly when you discover that has to do with disposal of a dead horse. When that horse has served the ranch well for 24+ years, I prefer to refer to it as dealing with rather than disposal. But that’s what you do on the ranch.

ugly side of workamping
We’re off to Never Neverland…

This isn’t  the first time this had happened. And it won’t be the last. I first reported about this gruesome side of ranch workamping when we lost Jane during our 2014 stint. You can read that previous post for the not so gory details about livestock management. I share how you get the horse in the truck, with minimal mess. Suffice it to say, with guests showing up to rent Jeeps and go on a horse ride, time is of the essence.

Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
We’re off to Never Neverland, yeah…
Enter Sandman, by Metallica

A Tribute to Sandman

We made quick work of respectfully dealing with Sandman. I’ll save you the up close and personal details. But I am glad I chained him into the truck. Otherwise we may have left him on the road. It’s bumpy ride to the upper ranch.

ugly side of workamping
The Horse Boneyard

As I said, this wasn’t the first time dealing with a dead horse. And it won’t be the last. We took Sandman to that special spot – the other boneyard, with actual bones – reserved for just this purpose. Upon laying him to rest, I removed the chain from his neck, and the winch cable from his feet. I then asked Larry if we should say a few words.

“Everything dies,” he said. As we wrote in chapter 21 (Ranch Life) of our book, Be More Dog, Larry Vickers is a man of very few words indeed. But get this…remember that rainbow?

View from our front door.

This magnificent rainbow appeared almost on top of our workamping site. We had never been so close to the spectrum of light caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets. Enough science. It was a brilliant, breathtaking double rainbow. And I believe it was clear evidence of G-d, or Gaia, Mother Nature, or whatever you wish to call your higher power. Why? Because later that evening Sandman bloated and passed away. And…

rainbow's end
Sandman’s spot.

We found him the next morning…exactly in this spot, at the end of the rainbow. Let that sink in for a moment. Then let me know what you think of this with a comment. Or, share share your own ugly side of workamping story.


Sweet dreams Sandman…

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