Sunday, July 21, 2013

And So the Journey Begins.....Again.

While the end of the last journey is still somewhat fresh in my mind, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on it.  I'm referring to the "changing of the guard", so to speak.  My dear friend, Deets has been gone for about nine weeks now.  I still miss him.  I still expect to see him when I drive in the driveway and I still think I should call him to "jump in" and go with me in the pickup.  He was such a big part of my life for so long that it's difficult to say goodbye so easily. 

Those last hours he spent on this earth were difficult.  His breathing was so labored.  He was so weak.  I sat on the floor with his head on my lap for much of it.  I looked into his eyes many times and told him how much he meant to me and how much I would miss him.  And I told him it was ok to let go.  And finally he did.  And I took him outside and laid him by the door until sunup and then Matt and I buried him at the end of the tree strip overlooking the calving lot, one of his favorite places.

Saying goodbye to our old friends is the most difficult thing we do as pet owners.  It isn't something folks think much about as they bring a chubby, happy puppy into the family.  When we're being bombarded with puppy kisses and house training and watching that awkward "puppy kid" run and play and discover new things, we don't much think about the end of the journey. 

But a week ago, our journey began anew.  We welcomed a puppy into our family.  "Chisum" (named for the cattle baron John Chisum) is a red border collie male who made the trip all the way from northern Oklahoma with my niece last Sunday.  He was born three days after Deets died......He is already a part of the family.

We laugh at the silly puppy antics as he becomes more and more comfortable with being with us.  We get up in the night to take him outside to potty.  We tell him "no", when he tries to chew on our shoes or the rug in the kitchen.  And he reminds me so much of old Deets that it isn't even funny. 

Chisum has not replaced Deets' spot in my heart.  Or Matt's.  And he never will.  We talk about Deets a lot.  We miss our old friend and we give him the respect an old, departed friend deserves.  New dogs do not replace old dogs, just like new loved ones don't replace departed ones.  There is just a new place in our hearts for them. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If Ya Can't Say Somethin' Nice.....

I admit that I have been pretty lax in my writing this year.  Granted, I have not ever been a powerhouse at keeping up with this blog.  But this year has been very sparse.  And here's why....My mom always told me if you can't say somethin' nice, then don't say nothin' at all.  Well, I've had a pretty hard time not whining about the drought, so I decided rather than harp on it, I'd just keep my mouth shut.  I knew full well that everybody was in the same boat as me.  And I also knew full well that my God is bigger than any problem I may face.  But I prayed every day from October on for snow and for the most part what I got were remnants of an "almost" storm. 

Then when calving got well underway, God decided to start sending moisture.  And while I was so, so, so grateful for the moisture, the extra work trying to keep calves alive (not to mention their mothers), made me feel like I was looking a gift horse in the mouth. 

It was depressing beyond words to ride out through the hills and see the gray color that, even when spring should have been starting, just remained that dead, gray looking color.  My heart sank every time I really looked at the hills.....most of the days, although I was out in the hills feeding cows, I never allowed myself to really "look" at the hills. 

And to top it all off, the temperatures just wouldn't warm up enough to let the grass grow.  After we'd had a little moisture, the dog gone mercury wouldn't rise in the thermometer enough to get above 50 degrees.  That just won't make grass heart was heavy.

But then......little by little, I started seeing tiny, tiny sprigs of green coming.  What a glorious sight!  I have never in my life been happier than I was to see that little bit of green starting to come.  Many times I was brought to tears (yes, tears) by the sight of the grass coming on.  I have thanked my Maker many, many, many times this spring for the wondrous emerald green color that our hills have taken on in this last month!

We are not out of the woods just yet.  The topsoil moisture looks good for our part of the country.  But the subsoil moisture is still depleted.  Our north pastures are about 2-3 weeks behind normal and our summer pastures that we use exclusively for summer are about a month behind normal.  But these last couple of rains have sure made things look better there.   We will hopefully get the first bunches of pairs down that way the first of next week.....about 3 weeks later than we usually go.

But we are GRATEFUL beyond words for the grass that is coming.  As I told a neighbor the other day, I had a plan for everything till now.  But when our hay supply ran out, my only plan was to hope for grass.  I prayed for moisture EVERY DAY.  And I knew that whatever happened, God would care for us.  I did trust Him to make things work out the way they needed to, but I have to be honest.....I wasn't sure I was going to like what His plans were.

Like I said, the drought isn't really over.  Things are looking good and so much better than they have for quite a while.  But it will probably take several years to put things back to what I would actually call "normal".  There are many places that were so depleted that it will definitely take some time to heal.  And we ranchers will all need to use careful management practices to care for the fragile hills.  But I'm certainly not complaining.  I'm so grateful for the moisture and the beautiful emerald green color the hills have taken on that it is hard to complain.  I am ever so aware that it is a gift from the Big Guy Upstairs that we have been blessed with a reprieve. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day In and Day Out

Many, many, many days pass by here on the ranch with the same things going on.  Mind you, I am NOT complaining about this. Simply put....nothing is going wrong.  And THAT makes me happy!

We all spend most of our days now feeding the cows and calves.  Two days a week I feed cottoncake cubes to the cows.  The other days, Matt and I feed hay to them.  The calves get ground hay and cubes every day.  Matt pens the steer calves every morning so they can all find their way in to the lot where Dad feeds them.  And unless the wind is blowing to keep the mills pumping and the tanks open, we have ice to break and pitch most days, too.

Dad will spend an afternoon here and again, grinding hay for the calves and putting it into a big pile to feed out of for a few weeks.

Sometimes, if the temperatures drop around zero and the wind goes clear down and SOMEONE  has gotten lazy and not banked a well, it can freeze up.  Then that same SOMEONE ( who now shall remain nameless) has to thaw out the well before the wind comes up and breaks something.......that same SOMEONE also has to spend several days scooping poop and dirt around wells to prevent this from happening again.  But I think has all the wells banked now.

It's a little over a month until the heifers will start calving.  We have a few things to get ready for that.  Also we will sort replacement heifers and tag the ones that will ship later in February.  Those replacements will need to be bangs vaccinated.  The steer calves all ship the end of February too.  And barring anything unforeseen, we will have a few more quiet weeks of same ol', same ol' before the excitement begins.