Thursday, July 8, 2010

So long cowboy

Well I tried to tell you that all the great wet and cool weather would have its own piper to eventually pay. Those days are here as yesterday hit 99 and today hit 102 and it looks to be in the upper 90’s for at least a few more days. All those semi green/brown places in the pasture are no longer anything but brown. The total amount of feed is still excellent for this time of year and for that I can be very thankful. I have needed a few things to be thankful for the last two days. It seems that the difficulties, tragedy and pain of last week have just rolled on this week.

The week started with so much promise despite the hot weather forecast. With the good sale of calves last week I was able to pay the ranch bills that are due which is always a welcome thing. The hot weather is a bit of a bummer but in general things were looking good as we charge through summer. Dakota has really focused on working with her show steers and that has gone well. Irrigation is a never ending chore this time of year but for the most part has went fairly well as Chase (my nephew) and Dakota have been helping me in the morning with moving pipes. I have almost kicked this cold to the curb and am feeling much better than I was at the end of last week.

I had an aunt and uncle in visiting Mom and had a nice chat with them Tuesday at lunch. I got ready to leave Moms house Tuesday to work on a few items when my sister came out the door with some terrible news. A great man, a family friend, a true American cowboy and someone I have always looked at as a mentor in the cattle business passed away in a plane crash that morning. Since hearing that news I have been almost in a fog as I have spent the last two days.

I don’t know if it is the fact that he left this world too young, the fact that it was an accident or exactly what but the pain of losing another friend in the cattle business has really made me struggle the last couple of days. Elwyn Fletcher was my 4H leader for many years and was always someone I counted on for good advice. He had a ready smile and was someone I always enjoyed seeing in any venue at anytime. I am sure that the whole community is reeling with this loss just as I am.

There are several things about him that were part of my memories the last two days. I always appreciated that Elwyn treated me as an equal and an adult even though he had so much more experience and knowledge. I bought one of my first show steers from him years ago and it was as if he was doing business with another fellow cattleman even though I felt he was larger than life in the cattle business over the years. Elwyn was as “real” and as old fashioned as a cowman as you will ever know yet he was also very aware of changes in the business and alert to new strategies for success.

Elwyn was usually happy go lucky and would regularly have a new and good joke to tell. He was able to accept compliments when he made a good marketing or other decision and also quick to admit when he made a mistake. One other thing I always respected about him was how he was not into the “fluff” of things like fancy new pickups or equipment that did not have a reasonable purpose. He was much like my Dad in that he was happy with his life and his place within the total spectrum of life.

I could go on forever about all the great things about him and all the things he taught me about the cattle business but I am going to close this with two things. One thing was Elwyn had a tremendous passion and work ethic but he really had a great compassion for animals. He was someone who would do anything to save the life of a calf regardless of the time or expense that was needed. The other thing he had was a great wit and an “aw shucks” way of saying things related to a certain subject that would often combine reality with humor. I was once having a conversation with him about governmental agencies and how they often seem to be heavy handed. This particular conversation was about the ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms) Federal agency. Elwyn summed up the agency perfectly when he said, “I always felt alcohol, and tobacco and firearms sounded more like a shopping list than a Federal agency!” I hope you and my Dad are having a Pendleton and a laugh right now sir.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Red Top aka Agrostis gigantea.

Today’s picture is from my perspective how nature shows us that those who pass before us live on if we choose to see them.