Sublette County fills a ‘cowboy way of life’ wish

Kathy’s daughter Tiffany Forrand records and the family watches as Jayden Burbank and Cody Jensen rope calves to brand.

For years,

Californian Kathy Frick dreamed of watching

cowboys and ranchers doing their honest

everyday chores – and nowhere else but in

Wyoming. She talked about it often, she admitted.

Frick was diagnosed a year and a half ago

with pancreatic cancer and is now at stage 4.

Her large, close-knit family announced last

Christmas they were bringing her to Wyoming,

to watch cowboys at work.

“We thought, ‘Wyoming, cowboys – we

have to go to Jackson Hole,’” said her sister

Karen Byrnes, who with brother Bob Sebesta

set up side trips from Snow King Resort.

Jackson’s Lockhart Cattle Co. welcomed

the group of 10 – right down to 1-year-old

grandson Oliver Frick – to show them around

their Hereford ranch just south of Jackson.

It was the family’s first taste of navigating

in Wyoming, which is far, far less complicated

than their hometowns of Santa Clarita,

Calif., and Los Angeles.

“They said, ‘Go past Smith’s and look

for the big red barn,’” Sebesta said, not sure

what Smith’s was or how to find the ranch

without better directions. “And there it was,

just like they said…”

But Sebesta and Byrnes were out of luck

to fill their sister’s wish. Enter bar manager

and former Pinedale resident Natasha Baird,

who took their picture and posted it on social

media.

“I am sharing this in hopes I can make this

beautiful lady in the middle dreams come

true. … Going to Wyoming and have a day

with the cowboys and cowgirls on a ranch.

They are not having any luck fulfilling this

wish here in Jackson. I am sharing this in

hopes to grant her wish. If there is anyone

doing branding or have time to show her and

her family the cowboy way of life please

give a call to Bob or message me. They will

be leaving Sunday and her sister says she

will pay any price to fill Kathy’s bucket list.

Thank you Sublette County.”

The post went viral as locals tagged

friends and neighbors. After one day, Sebesta

had invitations to fill their remaining

Joy Ufford photos

Rancher George Kahrl, center, gives Kathy Frick a hug while her nephew Ryan Sebesta, left, and son John Frick hold a calf.

Cowboy Jayden Burbank gathers pairs at the Sarah Faith Ranch, the old Gordon

and Mildred Mickelson place.

days. Dozens of people responded with calls

and texts, he said.

“Some people were really disappointed

they couldn’t have us come. They were almost

upset.”

One call was from Big Piney ranchers

George Kahrl and Cindy Zullo, who own the

old Gordon and Mildred Mickelson place,

now the Sarah Faith Ranch.

“We were going to the pasture to gather

and sort some pairs and brand about 50 late

calves,” Kahrl said. “So we invited them to

join us.”

Early Friday, Kahrl took Kathy under his

wing to the horse corrals and in the tractor to

grab a round hay bale. Kathy rode shotgun

in his ATV as ranch hands Jason Burbank,

Jayden Burbank and Cody Jensen with

Zullo gathered and moved the cattle.

Back at the corrals, Kahrl and cowboys

showed Sebesta, his sons Ryan and Scott

and Kathy’s son John Frick how to wrestle

calves while brother-in-law Don Byrnes

vaccinated. There were laughs, huge smiles

and loads of pictures of the family men in

their once-clean clothes, wondering what

to wear for Saturday’s branding at the Pape

Ranches, next on their calendar.

(When asked if they had directions for

Pape Ranches, daughter Tiffany said, “Yes

– we take a right at the gravel pits.”)

“Unbelievable,” Kathy and her family

said again and again of the hospitality, generosity

and warmth they found in Sublette

County.

After branding, 15 people gathered at The

Bench Grill in Marbleton with more mementos

for Kathy and her family. At 7 a.m.,

Susan Pape Riggs had met them at Daniel

Junction with a cowboy hat and chaps. At

lunch, a Sarah Faith Ranch ball cap on her

head and a lavender Wyoming Cowboy Hall

of Fame T-shirt for warmer weather, Kathy

was speechless as Tawnya Miller came up

with a large bag holding a rope, horseshoe

for good luck, one of Mildred Miller’s

vintage scarves and Green River Valley

Cowbelles’ brand placemats. As a special

memento, Miller brought Wyoming license

plates crafts her son Kaleb made for each

of them.

Kathy and her family – who “do everything

together” – never dreamed how things

could fall into place to help fill her Wyoming

wish, expressing thankfulness and disbelief

at the overwhelming generosity.

“We were doing our everyday work,”

said Kahrl said. “It could have been just an

ordinary day – but by joining us, you have

turned it into a day that none of us will never

forget.”

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