March 21, 2012



Every day we set new weather records! Middle of March and in the upper 70s. And guess what? Last year, to get away from bad weather, we didn’t turn our bulls out until July! So other than my January calves out of the heifers we bought, I’m skunked.
It sure beats last year. Our pens were full of snow. Tree rows were full of snow. Trying to find a place to feed was a challenge. Storms followed one another across the plains like a St. Paddy’s Day parade.
This will go down in the record books as “the winter that never was.” At least so far. Some of the worst storms in my life have come toward the end of April. So, I guess we have a way to go.
And if it doesn’t rain or snow, we’ll be calving in the dust.
I was thinking this morning of a book I read a few years ago, “Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy.” It’s the second book in a trilogy, so don’t read it first. It’s a true story about a couple of Wyoming cowboys who, in the Depression era, decided to go into the wilderness of northern British Columbia and start ranching. Wonderful story. But they endured a lot of hardships including blizzards and floods and injuries. And they were tough. Living in tents when it was 40 below. Freezing their hands so bad their fingernails fell off. And this one old boy would get up every morning and try to start the fire, break the ice on the coffee pot, and holler, “Nothing too good for a cowboy!”
A few years ago, I came across this wild Char cow having trouble calving. By the size of the feet sticking out, I think it was one left over from the year before. And if you so much as made a step toward this cow, she would shake her head and act like she would take you.  I went and got Shirley. I explained how she should…..And she told me to go to hell!
We decided, or rather Shirley decided, instead of roping her in the pasture, we would ease her a mile or so over to a corral. And we did. Until that old cow saw what our plan was. Then she just stuck her head up and headed for the brush. She would take your horse if you tried to stop her. Well, I didn’t have a gun to shoot her with, so I roped her.
Now, Shirley is a heck of a ranch wife. She can do most anything better than anyone in the country. But I tell you what, her mother must have whipped her with a lariat. Cause when you take out a catch rope, she panics and stampedes. So, I’ve got this wild cow roped in the middle of this prairie dog town. The wind is blowing 40 miles an hour and it looks like one of those sandstorms in Iraq. Shirley is shying away from the rope and won’t get close enough to heel this cow. It just happens there is a power line coming across this dog town, so I chase, or rather the cow chases me over to this pole. And I snub her up. Then I take Shirley’s rope and heel the cow and give Shirley her rope back to hold.
The  calf has its head back and has already gone to calf heaven. And I haven’t got a lot to work with. But I’m laying on my side in this prairie dog town with dirt blowing in my eyes and my arm up the south end of a mad cow, and I’m thinking, “Nothing too good for a cowboy!”
Anyway, the cow lived, the calf didn’t. Shirley forgave me for swearing at her, and I forgave her being born with a deathly fear of ropes. And I was thinking about what Jeff told me the other day. Said as mad as he gets at some cows, it’s lucky he doesn’t carry a gun!