Palabras Pintorescas: Life is never simple on a ranch

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By Editha Bartley

No two days are ever the same on a ranch. Just about the time I think my life and all that goes with it is slow and calm, my bubble gets busted once again.

Such is the case recently when the clouds built up over our mountains, the temperature dropped like a rock, and before we know it, we had a snow storm of sorts surrounding us.

Now our cows are not dummies, because most of them have babies (calves in ranching terms), they decided they’d better spend the following cold and snowy night in, under our sheds.

Back in the day when we had snowstorms almost weekly, they spent lots of nights under the protection of those sheds. I know they don’t like the fierce winds either, and we have days and days of windy weather now.

Anyhow, I noticed how the cows didn’t get let out the next morning. And, believe it or not there were three inches of snow on the ground. Son John decided this would be the ideal and safe time to brand our calves.

He was right on that score, because several times in the last few years we’ve had to hook up long hoses with water always running, plus having buckets of water handy just in case the branding fire happened to get out of hand. Now 3 inches of snow, with .27 inches of moisture in it doesn’t make for mud (what’s that?) around here when it’s been so dry. But because it was only 9 degrees overnight, the snow stayed on the ground long enough to let the branding go off without any problems.

I can’t remember ever having a branding here in April. This is usually a late May event.

Yes, the calves were smaller and therefore easier to handle, but we all know the drought is bad and getting worse here fast.

Sadly, Arbor Day came and went very fast in this year in this area. We are supposed to plant trees on Arbor Day, and some were planted, thanks to our state forestry folk who spearheaded this event, but trees are dying everywhere because of the drought.

Our forests are overgrown, and I suspect this is one way Mother Nature thins the weaker trees out.

However, I also fear we will have a horrific fire season because there is no soil moisture left to slow down a fire.

And last but surely not least, graduation invitations are beginning to come in the mail. I can still hear my parents say (lament might be a better word!) “Now What?” Oh! My! That was a big world out there particularly when sweet brother Bill and I graduated from college.

In fact, Bill managed to drag that four-year college program out into six years because he was having so much fun. And he didn’t appreciate it when our parents told him to get the degree or else. He loved the challenges school offered so he had enough hours in several departments to qualify as a major. I will have to admit, however, that when he did become a lawyer he had a great educational background to fall back on, to use in a trial.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the snow shovel never got out of the garage this year, and the cows and newly branded babies are already out in higher pastures. I guess that translates as: We are either behind the usual ranching schedule or way ahead of it this year. Life is never simple, is it?

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.