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Transition: warm to cold

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Free Press
Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Readers will know that my perspective is that of someone who should be reducing the workload to leave a little slack in the program on the ranch so if something or someone unexpected happens to us, we can be resilient.

You know, “go with the flow.”

This fall has been wonderful until now, that is the weather, and the cold and snow are welcome in that it is reminding the cows there is a better place to be: home. Most people I know are trying to get their animals home when they can find them.

When one is our age (dare I say into our eighth decade of life) and we can only do in the day what we used to do in the evening in our heyday (“hayday” is incorrect), the pressure can build up and the list of “have-tos” gets longer and longer.

You may have noticed if you are a frequent reader, that my columns have been intermittent.

We have no full-time help on the ranch even though our big family pitches in when they can, hence I miss some things I like to do, such as this column.

With all the glorious weather this fall, there still was insufficient time to get ready for this cold snap. We have to ensure water is available (unfrozen) for livestock and we still have to harvest or “ship” the animals that are ready for market.

That is if they are home. Some of us are liquidating or reducing our herd to have some retirement time.

One would think that there is joy in preparing to kick back. Maybe not so. Stopping doing what you have been building and doing for the past forty or fifty years (or more if you were born into the ranching business) leaves one with a sense of loss.

Some people develop a love-hate relationship with their livestock and still cannot let go. I see this winding down as a denouement: the final unwinding or the final scene in a play or novel wherein the plot is resolved.

Some elders on ranches become like the hired hand and do what they are asked to do to keep the ranch/farm going. Others move away as the only way to get away from the workload.

“Winding up” is so hard to do, like the phrase “breaking up is hard to do” in a Neil Sedaka tune.

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