Changing season brings few surprises |

Changing season brings few surprises

Ranchers say they can count on weather this time of year

Diane Prather
Because of the similarity of weather from year to year in Moffat County, area ranchers know all too well the work that they need to do come October and November and the first snowfall. Pictured above is a rancher moving hay last winter.
Hans Hallgren

Although there certainly can be surprises, area residents can count on weather conditions to be pretty much the same in Moffat County, year after year.

For example, everyone expects snow around Halloween. This year, trick-or-treaters found a mild holiday, but, sure enough, here came the snow just a few days afterward.

Area ranchers and farmers remember the usual weather patters when getting their fall work done. It isn’t unusual to hear a statement such as, “It’s the first of October, and the weather can get bad, so we need to get that hay hauled home,” or “We need to get the cattle out before the weather changes.”

But, weather aside, there are ag-related signs people can count on this time of year to recognize the fall season. For example, no matter whether there’s rain, sleet, hail or snow, you can count on the brand inspector to be running himself ragged as he drives from ranch to ranch, inspecting cattle brands before the animals are moved.

This week, when Moffat County Brand Inspector Brad Ocker heard the snow forecast for the week, he responded, “Oh, no!” Ocker had a full week of inspection appointments scheduled.

Daniel “Doc” Melson, of Hayden, keeps the road hot as he hauls cattle in his stock trailer to a wide variety of locations. Besides Melson, livestock trailers loaded with cattle and sheep also are on the go.

Some days, when passing by ranches, you might notice bawling calves in a pen and bawling cows in a nearby field. Weaning is under way. You can count on it this time of year.

Also this time of year, you can count on lots of shoppers and long lines at the grocery store on Fridays – or any other day before a hunting season opens. You can count on finding some shelves bare, too – especially those usually stocked with chili, beans and canned tomatoes.

There’s a lot of orange in the area, from clothing worn by hunters to banners up in local stores. And restaurants and coffee shops open early and close late.

After that first snow, area residents hunt up gloves, coveralls and boots, and upon finding holes in their boots, make a trip to the store.

Ranchers start cutting thin ice on water tanks to find water tank heaters and make sure they work. Colder weather is on the way. They can count on it.

FFA and 4-H members are picking out market steers for the 2008-09 year.

Hoses are drained, and feed pans that have been scattered all across the corral are gathered up.

Barn cats, which have been scarce all summer are back hanging around the corral and house, hoping for a handout.

The cooler, loaded with lunch supplies, and the coffee thermos are getting a workout, providing nourishment for helpers during gathering and shipping.

Calves are being pre-conditioned.

Everyone has a prediction as to the upcoming winter: harsh or open.

Because ranchers and farmers are so busy finishing fall work, this author has been having a hard time arranging for interviews for stories.

The livestock market is the most talked about topic, and the livestock market pages of the “Fence Post” are popular reading.

You can count on it. The ranchers and farmers do.