Fall finally fell at the ranch this week. I don’t make this pronouncement based on the calendar – or even the weather. It wasn’t a change in the weather, or in the length of the days, but rather a change in how priorities are assessed. The fall season on the ranch is the only time of year when a fellow can relax a little, and not feel so crowded by time.
During the spring and summer, every day - and sometimes every minute – counts. During calving, those minutes can make the difference between a live calf or a dead one. The earlier you get a crop seeded, the better will be the crop. If you are a week late getting the irrigation running it will cost you hundreds of dollars in yield. A week’s delay in spraying weeds makes the job harder and more expensive. The cows have to moved in a timely manner to protect the young growing grasses. Hay that must wait a day in the windrow loses leaves and quality, and even gets moldy if rain moves in. Every day that those bales lie in the field makes them looser, and damper on the bottom – and slows the process of picking and stacking them.
So many of the jobs of the spring and summer should have been done yesterday, and a fellow is always in a hurry to accomplish as much has he can as quickly as he can to maximize the effectiveness of his efforts. But in the fall, the only real push is to get things drained and put away before they freeze or get covered up by snow. There will be another warm and sunny day as good as this one, and we’ll never get everything on our list finished anyway.
We’re still irrigating - but only to green up some dry spots rather than to grow hay. We’re still fixing equipment – but only to be ready for next year rather than to put up the hay that is deteriorating in the field. We have cattle to move to new pasture – but a few days won’t make any difference. We have fence to fix – but we’re not in danger of spilling cattle into a growing crop or haystack.
The heat and hurry of the summertime are past. It’s time to dawdle, visit, take a day off, and generally enjoy the country lifestyle as most city people seem to perceive it.