Ranching: The Basis of Sorrow

It’s no wonder that country music is sterotypically melancholy.

On Saturday, I broke my 7 year hiatus and again took up the art of ranching. Right now, we are running approximately one head, to use rancher parlance. That’s down from Saturday’s seven-year high of 2 head. Yes, within hours of beginning ranching anew, one head of cattle had already died.

We live on 28 acres, most of which is open fields of coastal grass. Over the summer, we partitioned off a 2 acre lot with barbed wire, gates, animal stalls and water tanks. I still have plans to reinvigorate the old shallow water well near the pens, but as of now, we are going to limp along with the 150 ft garden hose. We are prepared for winter with lots of hay from the field and a minimal amount of cattle knowledge from years past.

So, down to the auction (auwshkin, according to the 3 yr old) we went- “we” being me and four young children. That’s an adventure in itself, but suffice it to say that we came home much poorer with a 4 yr old bred beef cow and a 500 pound steer. The steer we planned to eat in a few months, after it doubled in size; the cow we plan to keep as a calf producer. The cow is scheduled to calve in late March, which is perfect for beginner ranchers: fresh grass and warm weather in abundance.

An hour after penning the creatures, my son came inside with news that the cows were out of their pen. Acute buyer’s remorse exploded within me, only to quickly give way to the more natural machismo of my inner cowboy. To be continued…

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Filed under agriculture, autobiography, children

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