Hello, Saturday morning dawned cold and windy. The forecast was for warming by noon, but the brisk wind was dang sure cold early. We were on our way down to Will and Jen’s ranch to preg check cows.
As usual, the drive down was pretty uneventful. I always enjoy the drive across SW North Dakota and NW South Dakota. You don’t meet a lot of traffic, and you can see for miles and miles.
A herd of mule deer, including one nice buck, were oblivious to the fact that we are in the middle of deer season. They were grazing on the shoulder of the highway on the edge of New England. The buck was standing on an approach and surveying his harem without a care in the world. I hope he makes it another week or so.
When we drove into the ranch yard, the riders were just going out the gate to gather cattle. It was fun to see. It was a family deal. Actually, three families. Our kids, their spouses, relatives, and kids were all saddled up. The youngest rider was four. But every kid had wrapped up, saddled up, and was riding a good horse. They had neckerchiefs, chinks, and warm mittens.
Someone once said the there is “Nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse”.
I don’t think there is anything better for the soul of a Grandpa and Grandma than to see all of their grandkids mounted up and going out the gate to gather cattle. It’s hard to put a price on the horses they were riding.
But even better, was the way they all pitched in when the cattle were corralled and we started working. They were pushing cows up the alley. And they knew enough to know that sometimes less is more. That it is easier to load three cows in the alley than it is six. That if you let a cow look for a way out, she will probably find it.
They were marking open and bred cows, reading ear tags, vaccinating cows, and having fun doing it. You want to see a proud Grandpa and Grandma; you should have been there!
Friends sometimes wonder why people continue to farm and ranch when most years you struggle to pay your bills, can’t take much time off for vacations, have to leave the pinochle game early for chores, and spend more on land than it will ever pay for.
Saturday was a reason why.
When you can have your families work together, chore together, go in from a cold wind and share a hot dinner, and watch those kids grow from toddlers sitting in front of their parents on a saddle horse, to saddling up and riding out to gather cows, you begin to understand why you do it.
Ride safe out there cowboys and cowgirls.
Dean Meyer is an area rancher and former North Dakota State Senator. His ‘Hat Tips’ column can be found in papers all across the state.