Friday, February 8, 2013

Sit tall in the saddle

Ok, I know, I suck at posting here. I must have 100 partially written blog posts but lately I just cannot seem to get anything down that seems to me that anyone would want to take time out of their busy day to read. I have learned one thing in that being on Facebook and Twitter has actually hurt my blog posting regularity. It is much easier to post something quick and short during my day than sitting down and postulating about my day each evening.

Calving is going well so far and other than losing one calf to drowning in a ditch that broke my heart. I am getting 2-3 calves each day on average and I have been really happy with the ones on the ground so far. Winter feed has been a real struggle. Last year I was not set well and things worked out great. This year I was set up great and for various reasons things have fell apart. I have been lucky in that I have found relatively inexpensive hay and the weather has been very cooperative. By all indications we may finally get an early spring here in the Columbia Basin after 2 years of late springs. Early springs mean early grass and a happy cowman. 

March will be 5 years since Dad physically left our presence. I was told by many on the day of his celebration of life that it would get better from that day forward. That advice was sound but after nearly 5 years I still miss him so damn much. There just is not part of any day where he does not manifest himself. Just today I was moving some Powder River panels alone and I thought back to the day we bought these particular panels. Dad decided to buy 14 foot panels, me doing the math on a "per foot" basis bought 16 foot panels. His argument was that if you ever had to move these panels by yourself the 14 footers would be much easier to handle than the 16 footers. At the time back in 2005 I never really imagined moving panels without him being around. Today, as I sweated and hoisted the 16 footers I felt like bawling but instead just laughed at how prophetic his wise words were.  

Last week a daughter of the last cow he bought gave birth to her 2nd calf. That really put into perspective how long he has been away. Here is 0107y with her second calf 3107w. Sometimes his wisdom and memories are very helpful and calming. Earlier this week I had a first calf heifer that did not have her calf with her as the sun sank in the Western Sky. I was traversing the pasture frantically trying to find the calf and facilitate a reunion. 
I could hear Dad in my ear telling me to quit worrying and to let the new mother do what Mother Nature had programmed her to do. As darkness fell I could not help putting faith in his words. I slept very fitfully as I envisioned the calf meeting the same fate as the one that fell in the ditch. I was out the door at daylight and the chill of the morning air and the beautiful sunrise gave me hope that Dad had been correct in his advice. I was not disappointed as 3241 was jumping around near her mother who was sporting a well suckled udder. 

I had a bit of an incident with cow 5501 this week as she had birthed a new calf. This cow is pretty easy going but is very protective of her newborn calves. I made a tag for the calf and was determined that between Festus keeping her attention I could get her calf tagged. This particular cow gave me quite a head butt back in 2010 as I tried to tag her calf and I could feel Dad cautioning me in my endeavor. Between the cows action and Dad's prompting I decided against being a hero. As Dad used to say,"those eartags are just something for YOU, they mean nothing to the mother cow, she knows who her kid is!" Back in 2010 her calf did not have a tag and she made my right shoulder somehow touch my left shoulder. In 2013 her calf does not have a tag but my shoulders are where they are supposed to be. Thanks Dad for the sound advice!

I know that Dad can see these new calves but I sure wish he was here to give his comments. In the afternoons when Dakota helps me feed she often makes comments that both make me smile and also somewhat sad in that it is very clear who her Grandpa is. She has both her grandfathers perpetual optimism as well as his hearty cynicism when some cows seem to under perform.  So far these calves have looked awesome and I know Dad would appreciate the crossbreeding system we are now seeing excellent results from.   

So earlier this week when I lost that calf in the ditch that was when I needed Dad the most. I did not really feel like I had failed as much as I just felt bad in that this cow is getting on in years and she had produced a gorgeous bull calf and now unless I get a twin very soon she will sent on her way to nourish the hungry world. Chris Ledoux sings with great lyrics of how I got through that day in a summary of how Dad would have advised me. "He said, Sit tall in the saddle and hold your head up high. Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky. And live like you ain't afraid to die. And don't be scared, just enjoy the ride."

Thank you Dad for all your education, love and advice. I know you were "Tougher than the rest." and thank you for me making me that way.  I miss you every day but feel you in everything I do, your legacy lives on in all of us!


Remember all pictures can be viewed full size by clicking on them. I will try and get here more regularly even if it is nothing more than a quick picture.