A couple of winters ago, when the family and I put in a day hauling our cows home, I had an "aha" moment for our family cow-hauling workday. Since then, I've realized the value of cow-hauling job suitability. With our old system, we all helped in the corrals to sort and load, then the Hubs and I each drove a pickup and trailer and the kids rode with us. So, when we did this two years ago, after making our first trip home with a load of cows, I suggested to the Hubs that maybe instead of all of us sorting, loading and hauling cows home, we split up the tasks.
People who raise cattle are just as fanatical about the contentedness, health and stress level of their herd as pet lovers are about their beloved animals' health and welfare. That's why being a witty and storytelling large animal veterinarian helps when dealing with cattle producers' livestock. Good stories and ample humor offset livestock and credibility concerns when doing work for a cowman.
While the Hubs and I helped a neighbor work his cows recently, I was reminded how cattle are not discriminating creatures. They do not pick favorites for being on their best behavior for when it comes to the equipment used to get them worked or the people helping. Working with our new neighbor's state-of-the-art cattle handling equipment was a new experience for many of the neighbors that usually turn out to help work cows.
Last week the hubs and I moved our cows home in order to vaccinate and pregnancy check them. Cow-moving day was on a Monday, which means something has to give and this time it was me. If ranch work on a Monday involves cows, no Monday is without some sort of dilemma. On the upside, we had a neighbor helping us, which isn't normal. To get our cows home, this time we used four-wheelers and the bale bed feed pickup.
Fifteen years ago when the hubs and I took over the responsibilities of his family's ranch, we used to max out our stress meters over all the fall livestock related work that needed done. Over the years we've become experts at seat-of-the-pants planning and winging it. When fall ranch work approaches this time of year we still stress, but not to the degree or for the length of time that we used to.
My husband and I feel very fortunate for the neighbors we've known for a long time. Most of them have been family friends for generations. Today is National Good Neighbor Day. Take a moment to reflect on the importance and value of good neighbors. The definition of a good neighbor is different for everyone, but for farm and ranch folks, good neighbors aren't necessarily just the people whose property is adjacent to them. For most rural folks, the term "neighbors" is broadened to include people who live several fences beyond one's home or fence lines.
What I've learned about tractor parts has come from different sources. The main source, would be from bringing wrong parts home. The second source, comes from overhearing guys' conversations about parts. The third, is listening to the in-depth discussions between my husband and son comparing different equipment models, their parts, the pros and cons, etc. The fourth source of my parts knowledge is from my father-in-law's hand-written labeled boxes of used parts on the shop shelves.
When cows are the mainstay of a family's life and income it's easy to get carried away with managing a herd. Spending time with cows can become an addiction. A cow herd to a family ranch is the equivalent of what horses and domestic pets are to cat, dog, and horse lovers.
Ahhh, spring. Bluebirds are out house-hunting, tulips and lilacs are budding, meadowlarks are announcing their presence, baby calves are frolicking and springtime anxieties have settled in on our place. Things...
James P. Owen is a former Wall Street businessman and the author of Cowboy Ethics and Cowboy Values, among other books. Owen believes Wall Street can learn a great deal from cowboys and encourages corporate people to return to ethical work practices. Owen's cowboy-related books are a serious look at the iconic values of the American cowboy, but I think it would be more entertaining to decode the humorous aspects of the "Code of the West" Owen discusses. Live Each Day with courage. Mad momma cows, snorty bulls or a mad wife; at times, dealing with each of these is all part of the gig.