June 8, 2016


I enjoy watching the news in the morning. Well, I take that back. Most things on the news I don’t enjoy. I don’t enjoy watching wonderful old cities reduced to rubble. I don’t enjoy riots at political rallies. I don’t enjoy Hilary’s shrill voice and Trump’s one-liners.
I’ll start over. I don’t enjoy watching the morning news. But I do watch it. And sometimes something will really catch my eye.
This morning it was a machine that watches your cattle.
Now, I am not real tech savvy. I don’t have a deal on my water tanks that calls my phone and tells me that the water in the tank in the West pasture is getting low.
I don’t have a camera in my heifer pen that sends live pictures to my phone or computer and lets me check the heifers, without waking Shirley and telling her, “It’s time for you to check.”
I don’t have a camera on my pickup bumper so I can back up to the trailer and get hooked up without Shirley pointing the wrong way. Although I have been tempted.
So, I will probably not get a machine that drives around the pasture and checks on my cattle. That’s what horses are for.
Yesterday we were branding some calves. We had a great crew and it rolled along pretty dang good. My Dad, who is 90 years old, had driven down to watch the branding. I was thinking how many changes he has seen in his lifetime of farming and ranching.
From driving a team cultivating corn and working on a threshing crew, to tractors that steer themselves and combines that measure yield and moisture. From a two row corn planter to planters that plant 24 or more rows at once. From 12 foot grain drills to 60 foot air seeders.
But one thing that hasn’t changed much is branding calves. The best way to do it is still get a few good ropers and a bunch of good wrestlers and just go to it!
Dad was just amazed at the skill some of the young ladies wrestling calves displayed. I mean we were dragging some pretty husky calves to the fire and the experienced wrestlers can grab a calf by the tail, while the partner grabs the rope and flip those calves and jump on the head with seemingly ease. Trust me. It’s not as easy as it looks.
But, back to that machine that checks your cows. Now, I don’t know much about it. But I doubt if it can hear a calf bellering that is stuck in a hole somewhere. And I doubt if it will notice a calf with a droopy ear that is feeling a little down in the dumps.
Technology is a wonderful thing. But dang, it is pretty hard to beat a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls gathering a bunch of cattle horseback. Working a bunch of calves, eating a good meal, and enjoying a cold beer when the work is done.
Wish you could have been there.