This past weekend saw more than 75 people descend on the little town of Lakeview, Oregon. They traveled from five different states, and represented more than fifteen cities. What they all had in common was relation to that handsome man in the cowboy hat: my maternal grandfather, Russell Mike Dillavou.
Grandad raised eight kids in Lakeview, hence the quantity of nieces, nephews, cousins, and grandkids running around today. He lived in Lakeview pretty much his whole life, and was a cattle rancher through and through.
I like to think I have a little bit of Grandad’s ranching blood running through my veins. I know that as a kid, I would have given my left arm to ride around with Grandad in his beat-up Dodge pickup and watch him work cattle from his four-wheeler or his quarter horse. But he was a gruff man of few words, who took a serious outlook on ranch work. I was always to shy to ask him to let me tag along, being a pony-tailed girl from a beach town, who thought horses were buddies not just strictly work animals. But I hope he’d be proud if he knew that his granddaughter was planning on running beef cattle for a living, even if I do plan to let my farm dog sleep in the house once in a while!
[me as a baby cowgirl, chillin’ with grandad]
Everyone in Lakeview recognized Grandad as he drove around town with his border collie sitting proudly on the top rack of his well-worn ’86 Dodge Ram pickup truck. A lot of my childhood memories are of meeting him at a local diner for breakfast or lunch, his pickup parked out front and his dog waiting patiently. Great-uncle Donny told me that he’d often pass Grandad on the highway, and they’d pull out their CB radios and greet one another.
Since Grandad passed away a few years ago, Uncle Max has had that old Dodge pickup parked in his back field. I just happen to be in need of a good, strong, farm pickup, and so I asked him if he’d be willing to let me have it. It needs a little work done, but I’m excited to say that I’ll soon be the proud new owner of Grandad’s ’86 Dodge Ram. It even has a steel rack and cage that Grandad installed in the bed and over the cab. (A gun rack too. Watch out Corvallis!)
I can’t wait to be driving that pickup on my own farm. Hopefully I’ll soak up a little ranch knowledge from the seats of that old Dodge.