Friday, December 16, 2011


Most people picture Riding and Roping when they think of cowboys.  But I’ve already told in my blog of the modern cowboy’s responsibilities in Fencing, Farming, and Feeding.

I’ve written about Haying, Welding, Irrigating, and Mechanicing – now it’s time to mention carpentering.

The calving shed is a “pole-barn” – that means it’s supported by a number of posts rather than a foundation.  Construction is faster, cheaper, and easier, but it doesn’t last as long.  The posts rot off in the ground, and need to be replaced every 50 years or so.

In June there are a whole line of tasks screaming to be accomplished at once: farming, spraying, irrigating, fencing.  But in the winter the jobs are limited by weather.  The ground freezes, and so do such things as paint.  It’s hard to accomplish much outside of feeding.

Inside the calving shed, however, the ground isn’t frozen yet, and it’s a good time to continue the project of replacing posts.  There are forty-some, and a guy will no sooner finish then he needs to start over again.

The weather continues to be warm by Montana standards.  We’ve had only one day at zero, and it’s been sitting around freezing for a week with more of the same in the forecast.  The cows are fine with grass and lick, the heifers take less than an hour to feed.

It’s sure fascinating to sit at a computer while looking out the window at a ranch that was established over 100 years ago.  Times sure have changed!  What wasn’t fabricated here on the ranch in 1900 was brought in by train to Big Timber and by team and wagon up the Boulder river. It would have taken half a day to get to town then, and would have been too hard on the horses to come back with a load yet in the afternoon.

I, on the other hand, have done all my Christmas shopping with my fingers.  The goods are delivered to the door within a week.  I frequently download documents, print them, sign them, and fax them back – all in a matter of minutes.  Even the feed supplement for the cows is delivered to the ranch.

Today’s world is far more complicated in many ways, yet simpler in others.  I’ve lived in the “good ol’ days”, but I prefer now.

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