The first snow with cold, cold temperatures is a sea change on the ranch. We were busy doing something . . . and now we switch gears and do something entirely different.
The change in weather means the cows had to come home. We always think we might get a few more days of grazing in the mountains, but old man winter has his way. Our fall pasture is on the other side of steep mountain grades, so when the weather turns, we go for the cows. Mark’s tripping back and forth to the mountains is over until spring. Time to hunker down and tend things close to home.
We worked cows yesterday. They needed their annual shots so each one had to be put through the working facility. We had a wood stove blazing near the chute, but it was still bitter cold. This particular set of corrals hadn’t been used in a while so we had to iron out a few kinks as the day progressed. Ten head escaped out the back of the corral and another cow jumped out and bent a steel section. We gathered up a couple of panels, a long pole and a broken wooden gate and jimmied up a temporary fix. On top of that, the cows didn’t want to load in the crowding pen nor leave through the working chute. We coaxed every one through and finished just at dusk. I was so ready to be done!
Despite the difficulties, everyone stayed agreeable and we eventually (as Gary likes to say) “wore them out.” It’s one characteristic of many I appreciate about our ranch. We don't argue while working cattle because we know we need each other's help. We may disagree on some business elements, but we’re diligent about keeping a positive working environment and for that I thank the previous generations. It’s one tradition we’re determined to keep.
Before the snow came, I took a photo of Anna and Mark catching horses and planned on using it in my blog. It’s a good one of a father and daughter starting the day. Then November got away from me and now the scene has changed so much it doesn’t seem to fit anymore. Mark assured me it didn't matter. I could write about the changing seasons he said. I guess a last, longing look-back is okay.
As we wrap up another production year, we take stock. We add up inventories, divvy expenses, balance the accounts and count our blessings. Among our blessings has been Seth and Leah living close by and helping us on the weekends.
Leah, California raised, is spending her first Christmas in Idaho. She has a sense of joy and wonder about the snow. I found her a pair of gently used overalls on the high shelf in the mudroom. They were just her size and kept her warm working cattle. When I said she could take them home, she smiled and said, “a Christmas miracle!” Kind of sheds a whole new light on winter.
|Jane, Anna, Sis, Mark|
|a good calf crop on processing day|
|Kate bringing them home while I drive the (warm) pickup|
|waiting their turn|
(photo by Seth)
|one more to go|
(photo by Seth)