There are no weekends off this time of year as we juggle days around the weather, neighbors’ brandings and our own, trying get the work done. Low snow down to about 1,000 feet with the last cold front that brought 0.62” of welcome rain, we gathered the Wagyu bulls yesterday for their return to Snake River Farms in Idaho, for their TB tests and Health Certificates before they leave California.
Roads into the foothills are impassable, corrals too muddy to brand, neighbors try to reschedule plans to mark their calves, often with cattle gathered on short grass. This time of year, one day runs into the next until we’re all done.
Though hard on our cows who have endured nearly three months of abnormally cold weather, we’ll gladly take the snow, any kind of moisture with less than eight inches of precipitation this season, well-below normal. The snow melts slowly, retreating only 500 feet yesterday, to saturate the ground beneath like a time-released prescription. We are still feeding hay in the Greasy watershed each chance we get, but it will be next week, after three more rescheduled brandings, before we can get another pickup load up the hill.
Though I know we’ve had cold winters before, I don’t remember one with such a devastating impact on our cows. One day at a time, and before we know it, we’ll have wildflowers and then be complaining about the summer heat.
Practicals, aside, the snow looks beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low before. Sending some melting warmth (and rain) your way.
Beyond knowing, beyond prayers,
we gird our loins—prepare for change
because we have no choices left,
no other options but to adjust
to going forward—there is no back.
We have seen, and we have delivered
death, treated simple sicknesses
with rope and medicine, but mostly
with the hope of bringing relief.
We ride off. We are tough.
A child, a son, a father—and now
a grandfather—I have seen much
I could not change. New ground
for love and being practical, for
staying in the middle of our saddles.