Craig A rancher's year is marked by one "season" after another, and the work that has to be done.
For example, calving and lambing season, which starts anywhere from January to April - depending on the rancher - has ended for the year.
Now that cattle and sheep are on summer pasture and the calving and lambing supplies have been put away, the focus has turned to haying season.
Craig resident Lorrae Moon said her father cut alfalfa Tuesday. The Frosty Acres Ranch, located north of Craig and owned by Doug and Janet Camilletti, raises irrigated hay.
Some dryland hay, such as that located west of Craig, already has been cut and baled. Hay at higher altitudes probably isn't ready yet. If a person were to take a poll of "start haying dates," the results probably would show that haying will be going full force in another week or so.
Perhaps you're not acquainted with haying season. The following examples will give you some idea of what is involved:
First of all, getting ready for haying season means:
• Checking our supplies, such as the rag box. It isn't unusual for the ranch cat to use it as a winter bed, and cat hair on greasy machinery parts is far from desirable.
• Making sure the air compressor works. It's needed to air up tires, blow last year's dust and hay out of the equipment, to get rid of the mud that the mud dauber insects have packed down in little holes, and to chase the mice away from the winter home made in the equipment.
• Finding last year's water jug to make sure it has a lid and doesn't leak.
• Making sure the tractor air conditioner and radio are in working order.
• Finding a little notebook in which to write down part numbers in case there's a breakdown in the field.
• Keeping phone numbers for parts stores and machinery mechanics handy.
• Locating goggles, if a person is allergic to pollen.
• Putting a roll of paper towels in the tractor to wipe pollen off the windshield.
• Bringing hay machinery to the shop to clean it, grease it, check for needed repairs and to do anything else that has to be done to get it ready for haying.
• Filling the pickup tool box with ordinary tools (such as wrenches and pliers), a grease gun and other tools and parts that might be needed in the hayfield.
• Loading the pickup with twine and different kinds of oils.
• Having the ranch fuel tank filled with diesel (ouch).
• Arranging for a person to go for parts when there's a breakdown, to help shuttle machinery from one place to another and to turn small bales so they're in the right position to be picked up by the bale wagon.
Working in the hayfield means:
• Long days.
• Late nights.
• Evening meals prepared in the crock pot or reheated in the microwave.
• Drinking lots of sun tea.
• Lots of lunches out in the hayfield.
• "Watching out for baby deer and antelope bedded down down in the hay," Moon said.
• Worries about wet hay getting dry enough to bale or broken down machinery waiting for parts.
• Working together as a family.
• Pride in a good crop.
And because our seasons are so unpredictable, ranchers make sure they know where to find their coveralls and caps with earflaps. That's in case it snows before the haying season is over.
It has happened.