When the Holidays are done, and grazing is left behind, we nestle into a quiet routine of feeding cows every morning. If the weather cooperates, we get to do a few other things besides ranching, like go to a movie or take a drive. We took the afternoon off yesterday and drove north towards the Tetons. We hoped the weather would lift, but it spit slush at us the whole way. Then of course we couldn't see the mountains. Plus the snow sculptures in Driggs were well past their beauty. Oh well, it was a diversion from ranch duties and we had a nice supper out.
I’m feeding one big load of hay per day to the young cows who are expecting their first or second calf. I call it my “feeding practice,” like a yoga or meditation “practice.” The bales can be challenging to get off the truck one slice at a time. One must keep calm, use your body intentionally and resist the urge to fight. I really love the work. Mark drives for me so it’s time together and I get fresh air and exercise. The best part is walking home from ranch headquarters when that first load is done. Mark and the rest of our crew finish up without me. As I walk along in the quiet, I see our home up ahead and feel a rush of pleasure at the day stretching out ahead of me, the lusciousness of winter with time to do indoor jobs. Spring can take her time, if you ask me.
The snow came and then the wind blew it into big drifts. Now it’s warmed up and everything is soft. You can tell what temperature it is outside just by the look of it. Warm-up means the colors deepen. Tree trunks are dark against a white winter sky. Grasses show golden as they poke through the snow. Calves in the pasture lot spread out across the field, chewing their cud and laying in the snow. Magpies and dark-eyed juncos flit about.
Winter also gives us time to read, follow the news, take some rat trails on the internet, listen to podcasts, etc. There’s some crazy stuff out there. I think as more and more people live detached from the natural world they start to go a little nuts.
There’s a billboard on a highway close-by which features a forlorn looking dog, and in bold letters these words, “bring me inside.” Well, it depends on the breed of course, but a dog house filled with straw and positioned out of the wind suits our dogs just fine. It's really about feed, water and shelter. The billboard is communicating in sound bites, an infuriating habit we’ve become accustomed to. Where is nuance and the ability to think something through logically?
Because of my choices over time, my Facebook feed sends me a lot of stuff on regenerative agriculture which I appreciate. I also get the anti-meat stories. The Golden Globes banned meat from their pre-show dinner for the first time ever this year. Not that one meal would make a difference, they said, but to send a message about climate change. What they don't know is that this isn't about plant vs. animal foods. Both processes CYCLE carbon. Tell me how the food is produced, the soils, the biodiversity, the community it sustains, and then we can have the conversation about climate. The Golden Globe event, along with vegan dishes, served bottled water - from Iceland. But wait, in the spirit of climate consciousness, it was in glass bottles instead of single-use plastic like the company normally sells. And they’re going to reuse the red carpet this year. Did I say the world has gone crazy?
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