Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Clean Slate

Our ranch is in a deep freeze. On the first day of 2019 we woke to a very stiff 10 degrees below zero. Everything creaks at that temperature, including me in my coveralls. On the feed truck I have to periodically pull the fingers of one hand inside my glove and make a fist to thaw them out. If the bales are compliant you can handle them with one hand using your body as a wedge to maneuver them off the truck bed.

The cows do fine in the cold as long as they get their ample daily ration of feed and a good drink of water. We put out lots of straw which provides energy and a dry place to lay. Feeding straw, which is readily available as a by-product of grain grown by our neighbors, is one “unfair advantage” we enjoy in our area. Ranchers in other regions will have a different advantage. The trick is to recognize yours and act on it.

I love the feel of a new year. I always go back through my diary and write down the significant events of the past year with the idea of generating a list of thoughts to strive for in the coming year. I stay away from anything resembling a resolution! Trouble is, my thoughts for a better new year look the same as last year, and the year before that: write more, move more, drink more water, eat less sugar, be a better wife, etc. They’re good goals, but I wish they would firmly entrench themselves in my psyche so that I could finally plan something a little more exciting.

We enjoyed our kids at home over the holidays. We fed cows before we opened gifts on Christmas day, which worked fine except that it got late and the prime rib was done before I’d even started the salad. The kids helped with other projects as well. We worked two days taking out some rogue trees below the house. Callie and Seth both ran a chainsaw and Anna and I hauled limbs. It was fun to work alongside my kids and the new view looks great. 

The kids are all back to their lives now, and it’s time to look down, regroup, and tackle those indoor jobs that lie in wait each year for the dead of winter.

One job we’ve been putting off is a thorough inventory of horse tack. I put a plastic cover on the dining table and hauled in all the leather head gear for horses. It’s quite a pile. I’m hoping it will inspire some quality couple-time, sorting and cleaning of an evening. Mark got a record player for Christmas and we might play some Johnny Overstreet, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline or Roger Miller to go with the project.

Christmas has its own charm, but it’s a cluttered, fattening, excessive time of year. It’s maneuvering around the Christmas tree and looking back at traditions and trotting out old family recipes no matter how heavy they are. I love the comforting nostalgia of Christmas. But the New Year - ahh – it’s about the future, and creating something wonderful out of the blank slate that is 2019.

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