I often find myself wondering, “Where did the time go?” This happens more so as we are usually wrapping up some project, event, or family function and moving on to the next one. If you are like me it seems this little world spins around the sun a little faster every day, but, in fact, it’s only a little over a 1000 miles per hour and has been since God put us here. 1000 miles an hour…seems kinda slow to me. That’s like me on a laid-back, rainy day, enjoying my coffee Sunday morning! Seriously, when did our world get so hectic? There is an old cowboy quote that says, “Don’t ever get so busy that you don’t know if you found a rope or lost a horse!” Truer words have never been spoken, and for me that time is always around the end of September.
John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” pen’s the verse, “well life on the farm is kinda laid back.” But, if only that were true nowadays, then my ever increasingly gray hair might not be so rampant for my youthful mid-thirties. It’s no secret that there are a lot of ranches and farms that are worked after daylight and on weekends. It’s the nature of the business that inputs like land, fuel, and labor have driven many of the family owned agriculture operations out of business, or they are forced to supplement income with working a day job. I fall into the latter category, as in a day-career. Risk manager by day, risk manager by night….hold on….24 hours a day of risk management? Calgon take me away? Wait, am I a super hero? Let’s see, I don’t look good in spandex because I have pretty hairy legs (why the spandex doesn’t look so good is that the hair sticks through), my cowboy hat always falls off when I fly, and I have no cool catch phrases. Nope, I am definitely not a super hero just an average country boy. However, I was raised to multitask, (thankful for parents that never showed getting up early or staying up late to finish something was a chore). I find myself cramming more and more into a day than I ever thought possible. (Note to self-check into teaching time management classes.) No different than any other typical American lifestyle, but September seems to be my most hectic time of year, especially for the cow-calf operation.
September means fall, and fall means winter is coming. Now, I will admit that in my part of the country our winter can sometimes be perceived as a cold fall, but nonetheless it still requires planning and activity to prepare and that takes place in September. First thing is first, what’s the status of the calves? We are moving into weaning and that means working the cow-calf herd. Calves must be weaned and vaccinated. The mama’s are palpated, their teeth checked, and any open cows are removed from the Not so bad, and usually involves family time as it takes a family to get it done. (This year there wasn’t any throwing of inefficient tools as far as you can into the brush followed by, “don’t ever buy that piece of junk again!”) However, after the fun part then the real work starts.
September planning for winter means planting winter grazing crops and praying for rain. The common cow-calf winter pastures in our area are oats or rye-grass. Every year it’s a coin toss or kinda like betting it all on red 23. One requires not as much moisture to start, but grows a little slower. The other grows fast, but only if it’s been wet. They both require time on a tractor to put in though. Then throw in some variables like what else to plant for hunting to supplement farm/ranch income and things can get manic. For the away from the ranch day worker, that means evenings are spent discing up pastures by tractor light. (In my case, Ol Trusty the tractor, only has one working light and she seems a little duller each season, but it’s cheaper to buy two new lights together and replace them at the same time, right?) The discing part used to be the monotonous equivalent of watching paint dry. So, thank you Steve Jobs, I mean there are the occasional skip out of the office early to go home and plow days, but that nifty little IPhone helps me answer a lot of emails, check messages, schedule meetings, check scores, and keep my calendar right in the palm of my hand. Granted, I may not have the straightest rows as in the past, maybe it’s the dull headlight or maybe it’s my IPhoning and plowing, but the work gets done. Sometimes I even get to use my ITunes and have a little Patty Loveless drown out the hum of Ol Trusty’s chatty diesel engine. (Was that a backfire?) Oh September!
September is a long un-daunting process that repeats itself every year across the ranches and farms of America, not just in my neck of the woods. I don’t mean to sound complaining, and I am by no means doing that! I enjoy my life, and the others out there like me do it for the same reasons I do. There’s something about working the land and providing for this beautiful country that makes life a little sweeter-no matter the speed at which it’s done now days. I just ask that you be a little more informed of the commitment it takes to get you and your family the quality food products that are made across this great country and the diligent efforts of those day in and day out that you can’t see from the super highways. Maybe, even buy that much too young to look that old county boy a cup of hot coffee and say, “Look on the bright side, September’s almost over!”
PS- Happy Birthday to my little brother, Andrew Brooks twenty-nine’s not so bad! You’re still in your twenties!!