The kids and I have been enjoying feeding cows with Daddy this winter. Though in Beau’s role here at the ranch he could be completely consumed by Excel spreadsheets and human management, I am thankful that he has reserved the simple daily task of caking the cows on Muggins Creek for himself and for us. It gives our family a chance to “work” together, reminding us of one of the biggest reasons we’re pursuing a career in agriculture: the opportunity to keep our kids with us, to teach them by showing them. It also reminds him and me that — beyond worker’s comp claims and health insurance re-enrollment and monthly inventory and payroll and pickup warranties and those pesky purchase orders that have to be sent off for approval — at the very heart of it all we used to like, and perhaps surprisingly still very much like, land and cattle.
Yesterday morning we all drove out to the cattle through a frosty, foggy, crystalized winter wonderland. We are enjoying an open winter here so far — such a relief after last year. Everything is so much harder in the cold and the snow — a point that drove its truth home relentlessly last winter — so every day we enjoy this mild weather of 2019 seems like a day off.
Some of the pics I got yesterday, using Beau’s iPhone:
(Lined up here like good girls, enjoying their breakfast.)
(For those not familiar, those are hair balls on the barbed wire fence. Where cow trails run up close to fences, the steel barbs collect a hair or two off of each cow that walks by. Over the years the hairs form into little balls that are wrapped irretrievably around the wires. Those hair balls have caught my eye since I was a little girl. Such an example of the slow, steady repetitiveness of nature.)
On the drive home from feeding yesterday, we came upon a cowboy. He and his frosty sorrel had just finished moving a crippled cow into a pasture closer to headquarters:
Hi, Jacob! (Or, as Marsi puts it, Jay-PUB.)
One of the pleasures I’ve come to associate with feeding is that we “let the kids” listen to the Little House on the Prairie audio books as we drive. Yesterday we were totally captivated by the narrator’s voice as she read “Little Town on the Prairie” aloud. This is the sort of thing you miss when you read as a kid, but as an adult I’ve come to think of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a masterful writer. Her style is deceptively simple, her characters are so well developed and so very human… no wonder her work has withstood the test of time. These books are not just for kids, folks!
Feeding hungry animals. Spending daytime hours with Daddy. Listening to a well-told story and harkening back to a time when life was simpler and harder and more honest all at once.
Caking cows is pretty much the best part of the day this time of year.
© Tami Blake