Sunday, January 1, 2012

See ya 2011, I am still feelin lucky

Hello 2012, goodbye to you 2011. In many ways I am glad to see 2011 be over. I hate to start with the bad but I want to get it out, put it behind me and focus on the good for 2011. The toughest part of 2011 was the number of cattle I lost for various reasons. I think I can honestly say I lost more animals in 2011 than the previous ten years combined. I know for an absolute fact that I lost more mature cows in 2011 than EVER in my lifetime. Admittedly some were just terrible luck as two cows slid off a canal bank and drowned and I only remember ever losing 1 cow on this place to that in my life. I lost two cows to uterine prolapses and I had not lost a cow to that in over 5 years. I went through a terrible spell of sick calves last spring and although I was able to save many I still lost way more than I usually do on average. Some were my own fault like the 3 big fall calves I lost last spring right before marketing time because I failed to get a trailer door closed properly. That one will haunt me for a long, long time. $2500 or so just *poof* because of a mental error.

Just to finish off 2011 for good measure I had another issue on the last day of the year. We worked all the spring calvers, replacement heifers and calves still here from the 2011 spring calf crop.It was a good day in the beautiful sunshine with no wind and a temperature in the mid 40's. Things went well with the Courneya family helping out and we finished well ahead of schedule. The cows received two semiannual vaccinations as well as an internal/ external parasite injection. Before we left the corrals for a late lunch I went walking through the cows to turn on a water faucet. As I walked I noticed a beautiful 3 year old cow that was pregnant with her second calf standing over a premature calf that she had passed. Most likely this was a result of a bump or push from another cow in the working process or getting bumped "just right" as she made her way through the working facilities. It seems like every bit of bad luck that I have dodged with the cows over the last several years all presented themselves in 2011. Ok, enough, on to 2012 and the good parts of 2011.

It says in my blog header that I am "the luckiest man in the world" most days I actually truly believe that. Sometimes I just flat fail to realize how lucky I am. The cattle market has been tremendous over the last year and at first glance I hated that I lost so many animals in a year when they were worth so much. As my wise brother in law stated I was actually "lucky" that it happened this year because the high prices offset the financial losses of the lost cattle. I also was able to get another center pivot put up this past year that will make the land more productive and overall it was a pretty good grass year. The calves I did raise to weaning and beyond were certainly the best I have ever raised. The first calf heifers I had this past year also did a great job without a single calving difficulty. I am starting to feel lucky again.

Speaking of lucky, I was lucky in the parts of life that really matter. My family enjoyed a profitable year, everyone was blessed with good health and we enjoyed some really great fairs and fun times as the year went by. I have a great family, extended family and many wonderful friends and made many more over 2011. Luckiest of all was I was once again able to spend my days with Mother Nature doing what I have wanted to do since I was old enough to have an opinion. Raise cows and crops to help feed my family and others all around the world. I am approaching 2012 with an open mind. I want to keep my head up, stay positive and enjoy life, just a tic more mania and a bit less depressive please. I am working on a long list of things to do for 2012 not because I am setting myself up for disappointment, but because if I make a long list and only accomplish a small percentage it will still be a long list of accomplishments. Here are 5 things on that list as we head into this New Year.

1.Spend at least 1 hour a day on ranch improvements, fixing fence, maintaining equipment, rebuilding and building things etc. Not a specific hour each day, but an average of an hour a day as the weeks pass. Things over and above what HAS to be done.

2. Take a bit more time off that is not directly related to the ranch, my service to the Washington Cattlemen's Association as President, or the computer. Family focused time off.

3. Manage my finances better, as the finances of the cattle business have improved, I have gotten somewhat lazy and need to focus on that aspect better.

4. Continue to talk to Dad daily in the way I do even though he is not physically here. Especially on those days that the going is a bit rough mentally.

5. I have a blog and Twitter. Facebook, You Tube account and participating in Twitter agchat on Tuesdays evenings, here comes the luckiest man in the world.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Yellow Breasted Chat aka Icteria virens.

Today's picture is daughter Dakota and her friend Miss Shelby and my awesome cow dog Festus helping to water cows on New Years Day. What was that about more time off again?

I am also posting a YouTube video with lyrics that plays in my mind so often as I make my way through my days and as I miss Dad. Enjoy Tim McGraw.