October 11, 2012
From Pipi's Pasture
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Whew! It’s been a busy week here at Pipi’s Pasture, but we finally have the cattle settled for summer, and we’re starting to get the garden planted. I’m even beginning to get a ton of work-related paperwork under control. Next week things should calm down a little bit.
I have been reflecting on January 2014. Time has passed in a hurry, and when I look back on the month, I find it has been pretty typical for January.
The dining room is one of my favorite places to sit and write, especially in winter. For one thing, it’s warm and cozy. For another, there are three large windows on the west side of the room, and through them, I can check out the winter scene without having to be out in the cold (even though I spend about four hours per day outside doing chores).
I’ve never liked winter. I don’t like snow (although I know that we need it), and I don’t like the cold. The only thing I might enjoy about winter is ice skating — if I knew how. I was born in February when Moffat County was experiencing a severe cold snap. My dad told me that it was 52 degrees below zero. He remembered how difficult it was to get a vehicle started so that he could drive into Craig from the ranch to visit his newborn daughter.
There were lots of awards and other recognitions during the 2013 Moffat County 4-H Achievement Night, held Nov. 13 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. In fact, there were so many that this week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” has more results to report.
On Nov. 13, 4-H members, their families and leaders looked back on the many accomplishments of the 2013 program year. The annual 4-H Achievement Night was held at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. This week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” salutes the 4-H members and leaders.
Years ago, when we lived on the Front Range, one of our neighbors, an older lady, used to watch Benji, our son’s dog, when he was outdoors. Sometimes Benji rolled around on the ground, both legs up in the air as he rubbed his back. “Stop that!” our neighbor yelled at Benji. “When dogs roll around on the ground, it means that the wind will blow.”
It’s funny how different one year can be from another. For example, last year we brought the cattle home from summer pasture the first weekend in September and fed them expensive hay until they went back to pasture in late May. This year, we’re thankful that there was enough grass, helped along a little by September rain, so that the cattle could stay on pasture until October — last weekend, to be exact.
During the past two or three months, we’ve pulled hoses around on our yards and gardens, trying to keep the plants from drying up; we’ve hauled water to our livestock; and we’ve cranked up the house fans in an effort to stay cool. Suddenly — or it seems suddenly — we’ve gotten some moisture, the grass has greened up, the daytime temperatures have been cooler and it has frosted.
The recent rains are proof that we just can’t predict what the weather will be like from year to year, even month to month. Out here, in the area around Pipi’s Pasture, the short grasses have gotten enough moisture so that they’re green again, much like spring. Our lawn is emerald green, just as it is in May.
The hot, dry days — until now — of summer have flown by, and suddenly, it’s time for area ranchers to be thinking about bringing the cattle and sheep home from summer pasture. That goes for our family, too. Before long, we’ll be hauling our little herd home for the winter.
Each year when county fair time rolls around, I think back to those years when my sister Charlotte (Allum) and I exhibited at the Moffat County Fair. Some of those memories are the subject of this week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture.”
Here at Pipi’s Pasture, it isn’t unusual for a cow to have twins; in fact, we get about one set a year. When people hear about twins, they make remarks such as, “Super!” and “How lucky you are!” The truth of the matter is that although it means an extra calf that year, twin calves make a lot more work, and they usually cost a lot to keep too.
Summer officially started Friday, and while each Northwest Colorado summer is a little different from the previous one, there are the usual signs that we’re into the season.
Here at Pipi’s Pasture, the past few days has me remembering those hot summer days on the ranch when my siblings and I were growing up and how we kids passed the time to keep cool.
When my sisters and I were kids, Dad and Mom sometimes planned a full day of shopping in Craig.
This morning, the skies over Pipi’s Pasture are gray, and a light rain is falling.
When I was a kid growing up on the ranch, a trip to town was a big deal.
A lot of melting is going on right now in the feedlot at Pipi’s Pasture. As a result, we’re having to deal with a gooey mixture of manure and dirt.
When we were kids growing up on the ranch at Morapos, we didn’t have a television, telephone, computer or any of the electronic games kids have these days.
As I look out on Pipi’s Pasture, I’m reminded of winter days when I was a child growing up on the ranch at Morapos (south of Hamilton). Memories take me back to when I was in the elementary grades, around 7 to 9 years of age.
There are lots of talented young people in Moffat County, and this year 4-H members have a chance to use their artistic talents to vie for the cover of the 2013 Moffat County Fair Book. Each year’s book features a unique cover design. Past covers have been designed by Moffat County Extension Office personnel, but this year the Fair Board has decided to try something different. They are having a contest for the 2013 Moffat County Fair Book cover, and they’ve opened it to 4-H members. The deadline to enter is Feb. 28, so if you’re a 4-H member who’s interested in entering the contest, you’ll have to hurry.
This week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” is a reflection on the accomplishments of the young people who competed in two winter livestock competitions—the 2013 Arizona National Livestock Show and the 2013 National Western Stock Show. One evening during the last week of the Stock Show our granddaughter Megan (Prather), of Bailey, called to tell us that her registered Columbian ewe, Jolie Chose, was selected as the Supreme Ewe in the Natural Colored Sheep Category, winning over other Champions in their wool breed classes. (The Natural Colored Sheep Category places emphasis on wool production.)
This month local youth and adults are exhibiting animals, competing in the rodeo, or otherwise participating in events at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. My granddaughter Megan is competing in livestock competitions, too, and when she talks about the Stock Show it brings back memories of the years (and years and years) ago when I was a 4-H member. As a teenager, I exhibited steers at the National Western.
It’s cold outside, and everybody’s talking about it. Here at Pipi’s Pasture it is a little warmer than in Craig, but no matter whether the thermometer reads -24 degrees or -30 degrees, one thing is for sure—it’s plenty cold. There are signs typical of the changing seasons on a ranch or farm. You know that it’s a cold winter because:
When my sisters, brother, and I were growing up on the ranch, it was tradition for Dad to cut the Christmas tree. Before he left to get the tree, we kids always reminded him that we wanted a tall tree. Our sister Charlotte Allum remembers at least one time when Dad came back and teased us that he couldn’t get through the deep snow to find a tall tree so he had to bring a short one. We were pretty worried, but, of course, the tree was tall as usual. I remember decorating the tree the same day that Dad brought it home, but Charlotte recalls Dad putting the tree in water for a couple of days before he brought it into the house and set it up. By that time we had gotten down the box of decorations. We could hardly wait until the tree warmed up and the icicles and snow in the branches melted.
This morning while I was filling the stock tank in Pipi’s Pasture, I was thinking about what I’m going to take to Thanksgiving dinner. We always celebrate with our son’s family, and I usually bake pies and cook up something else. So I was making a shopping list in my head. That got me to thinking about Thanksgiving dinners when I was growing up on the ranch. I’m sure that my mother had a shopping list, but it probably was for the basics (flour, sugar, and seasonings) because most of our dinner was homegrown. For example, turkey was the main dish, and we raised it on the ranch. The dressing was made from homemade bread that was sliced, dried, seasoned, and cut into cube-size pieces. I can’t remember not having turkey on Thanksgiving, but if we had ham, it was homegrown, too, and even smoked in our smokehouse. Mom made her own rolls from a “Three Hour Roll” recipe. They were served with butter that was churned from cream that came from our milk cow.
This past Saturday, as Pipi ate hay in the pasture next to my cottage office, I was thinking about the fall time of year when I was a kid growing up on the ranch on Morapos Creek. I remember the season for three things- gathering cattle, shipping calves and hunting season. In September the cattle were gathered from summer pasture, and about October the calves were sorted off. My dad, his brothers and at least one neighbor had their calves trucked to Craig where they were loaded onto train cars and “shipped” to the Denver Stockyards to be sold. Usually Dad and one of the other ranchers went with to Denver, too, so they could take care of the calves and see them sold. Meanwhile, the men who stayed home got ready for hunting season.
Welcome to “From Pipi’s Pasture.” It’s a brand new look for my agriculture and livestock stories. The name comes from a real live cow named “Pipi” that lives in the little pasture next to the cottage office where I do lots of my writing. Pipi is an older black and brown cow with a white face and speckled nose. Her ears are short because their tips froze one cold spring night when she was a calf. Perhaps it’s the ears that cause Pipi to be somewhat grumpy looking. However, grumpy is really not the case. The drawing of Pipi was done by my brother, Duane Osborn of Hamilton.