Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Ranching Game

I spent a few days off the ranch and came home to an explosion of plant life. The orchard grass is waist high and all headed out. When did that happen? The annuals are already hardening off. Spring has barreled headfirst into summer.

The vegetable garden is starting to look lively. The peas and onions are up and the potatoes are just peeking through. I’m trying sweet yellow peppers and cabbage plants for a change.

Mark and I spent two days fencing in the mountains. We inherited an electric fence that needs lots of TLC. We tightened it after its winter rest and then tried to get it all charged. We each had a 4-wheeler and walkie-talkies and only got two-thirds of it hot.  

The hills are green upon green. The tiny white daisies, fleabane, are in bloom, as are bluebells and the loveliest of all, periwinkle camas. Part of the fence line goes up through the quakies. We followed a winding leaf-covered trail through the timber that looked like it had been landscaped just for us.

We stayed one night in the Meadow Creek cabin which was supposed to save us time, but with setbacks including a flat tire, we didn’t get home until dark. Now that the cattle are in the hills, it's a well beaten trail we travel back and forth. 

Sometimes it feels like Mark and I are trapped in the last of the old, struggling to transition to the new. We’ve complicated the ranch with more ground and more intensive management but can’t seem to get around it all. We embrace new technology only if it fits our philosophy of ranching. We like our old trucks and equipment, still irrigate largely with a shovel, and prefer pasture and “waste” ground to monoculture intensive farming. We would love to be totally pasture and range, but our valley ground is too valuable not to farm. Add dry conditions to the picture and it really gets complicated.

The fencing scenario in the mountains rings true for the whole ranch. Rusted barbed wire remains alongside new high-tensile wires for carrying electricity. Each time we tend the fence we have to carry supplies for fixing the old along with supplies for maintaining the new. Sometimes a stray barbed wire grabs a high tensile wire and shorts the whole line. I can’t help but see the analogy of that!

Navigating this vortex we find ourselves in is confounding. How do we balance the needs of the two older generations who live on the ranch with our own needs, and also look ahead to creating/maintaining a ranch that is viable for our kids and hopefully grandkids? It’s not for the weak of heart. 

old and new

1 comment:

  1. "it's a well beaten trail we travel back and forth" - so much in that. Lovely.

    Wonderful post mother. So true.