Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(March)ing to a spastic drum

It may take months before people realize I am back and blogging. I have tried, really I have, the month of March has really been a (insert favorite expletive here) in both a great and terrible way. Since I lasted posted here I bet I have been here on average once every 4 days. Sometimes the words just wont flow or they do flow but when I get to the end I save myself from looking like an idiot by deleting the post, slamming the keyboard and asking myself just why in the F*ck do I even try to do this? The other day I sent in my Ketch Pen article for the WCA (Washington Cattlemen's Association) monthly newsletter. The main focus was how March is a month of renewal and new beginnings with spring and a new calf crop etc etc.

While that is true I still struggle because since March 2008 it has been hard to see March as little more than the month that I lost my father. I have been through 3 anniversaries now and I am as inept at facing them as I was the day he passed. I recognize it now, I see it coming and steel myself in preparation, but in the end I fail. I told my uncle the other day it is like standing on a railroad track at night somewhere with a large expanse of flat ground. I know the train is coming, I see it from a vast distance, I know if I stay on the tracks it is going to hurt like crazy. I know all I have to do is step to the side, acknowledge the train, but let the train pass without getting bashed. Three tries and three failures, I stand on the tracks, watch it come towards me, feel the pain of the crash, then lie there in a crumpled mass wondering when I will learn. I miss you Dad and although sometimes I feel you right by me, there are times I would give about anything for 2 minutes of guidance and conversation.

This March has been especially wonderful in many ways and especially frustrating as well. I have not "treated" a sick calf in the last 8 days but most of the other days in March I treated multiple calves. I have not exactly pinpointed why but I have some suspicions why it has been so different from the last many years. The distressing thing is part of what I have pin pointed is a failure in my management and although I am not someone who relishes in blaming others, I admit readily that I hate it when it "is my own damn fault." Dad is prevalent in this whole mental exercise as well because he had a saying that is very true; "Making a mistake happens to everyone, but it can only be a mistake one time, after that it becomes a failed life lesson." Oh my how the wisdom of that quote sometimes haunts me. I guess I should be thankful, for as many calves as I have treated our death loss has been higher than usual but still below average. It just is frustrating when you really feel like you are grasping at straws and making little progress. Knock on wood I think we are out of the woods for the time being.

What has gotten me through March has been the old stand by in friends and family. I truly may be the luckiest man alive in that respect. My wife and kids do a stellar job of keeping me grounded and encouraging me to strive to be better at what I do especially when I feel I am failing. My friends and fellow cattlemen often seem to grab me by the collar right as I jump off the cliff and their support, hard work and friendship has been extraordinary in the last month. We have been up, down, sideways, sideways upside down, down upside sideways, and that was in the best case related to ADT (animal disease traceability) here in the state of Washington over the month of March at the best of times and like a catawampous liberal deciding if they are pro or anti war with a little hit of methamphetamine thrown in for good measure. My friends and fellow board members of the WCA have been the steady rock in this storm and no matter the final outcome I will always respect that hard work you have all put into this issue!

I have also had some great successes from a financial standpoint over the past month. After 6 years of trying it really looks like my EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) application is going to go through! God bless the American taxpayer. With crop prices rising I have also entered a long term relationship on my farming ground which should make life better, more sustainable, and more stable from a financial and environmental standpoint which is great for not just my family but the entire planet. The cattle market is at record levels and we really need this to continue for awhile to fix some deep wounds of the past. Young cow/calf pairs bringing $1900, fat cattle bringing $115 a cwt, I sure wish Dad could see this and whatever his opinion on the situation would be amusing and insightful I am sure.

Part of this past months frustration has been that I broke my camera and have not replaced it, I will very soon. Some of the most uplifting things are what you see in nature each day and lacking the ability to capture those moments can be frustrating. Probably the best mental health therapy I have experienced since I last posted here has been some of the calves born. As you invariably attach yourself and your psyche to certain calves, losing them makes it that much more painful when it happens. Comparatively losing a calf seems very minute when you look at things like the devastation in Japan. Again I am going to thank my fellow cattlemen for being uplifting over the past month and will end this post with just why that is true.

Over the last month whenever I lost a calf or things did not go quite the way I wanted I tried to take inventory from a big picture. When you watch the videos of the tsunami in Japan it really brings you back to earth at just how imperfect yet perfect life is. We had our WCA bull test sale last week. I want to thank the Sizemore family for donating a heifer that we sold at auction numerous times to help our neighbors in Japan. Our association was able to raise over $18,000 to help those affected by the disaster. I know I am a vain bastard and although I do not quite "get" all the subtle messages in this song I do get the general idea in this Youtube video, Dwight Yoakum is probably one of my top five country artists and I think this video sums up how vanity can make us miss what is really important in life, nobody moves boots and tweaks a guitar like Dwight. Not only is the music awesome (check out the guitar rift starting at the 2 minute mark and the gorgeous brunette twanging guitar with Dwight, look at the brunettes eyes at the 2:46 mark and tell me there is no such thing as heaven, dayum) it also fits in that my vanity has tried to ignore this chest cold and the drag down it has caused me in the month of March. " I blame it all on someone else, till there is nobody left, then I just blame me."......." Go ahead and BLAME anything that you want, cause it all ends up the same, when everything you been claiming is wrong!"..... "Doncha know that blame is always never enough, it just keeps you in the game, til you only got yourself just to bluff."........ "I blame it all on someone else til there's nobody left, then I'll just blame me."....Powerful if you truly listen, at least from someone who has to find a "blame" for any part of life that lacks perfection.

I will get a new camera, I will get better at posting here regularly, I will appreciate all the good things life and nature provides me, and I will continue to respect and hold in reverence those in this difficult but rewarding business!

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is squirreltail grass aka Hordeum jubatem.

Today's picture is a picture from back in February that I call "children of the corn"