Pipi’s Pasture: Appreciating family time on the ranch | CraigDailyPress.com

Pipi’s Pasture: Appreciating family time on the ranch

Diane Prather
Pipi’s Pasture

One of the many positives of being raised on a ranch is the togetherness experienced by family.

There’s a lot of hard work involved in ranching, but family members share the chores, and children are there when the work is going on — such as moving cattle from pasture to pasture, branding, calving and so much more. During these times, there’s time for interaction with one another and time to play, too.

Some of the happiest memories of my childhood revolved around things that we did as a family, and I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately.

For example, I can remember checking cattle on the hay fields after they had been gathered from summer pasture. By then the hay had been put up and the stackyards had been “buttoned up” so that the cattle couldn’t get to the hay.

The animals were free to graze on the harvested meadows, where they enjoyed the grass and alfalfa around the ditches and places where the vegetation couldn’t be cut. Besides that, any rainy weather encouraged new grasses to poke through the ground.

Anyway, on some beautiful fall days, like today, Dad gathered up Mom and my siblings and me and we crowded into the pickup truck and drove down to the hay meadow to check on the cattle. We marveled at the sight of the calves. They had left for summer pasture as small calves, and now they were almost as tall as their moms. Now, the calves could almost lift the cows off the ground as they nursed.

We enjoyed spotting the cows that we recognized, some that we had named. “There’s old Spot-on-the-Hip,” we’d say. “Look how her calf has grown!”

I remember one time when we had driven down into the “stump patch,” a portion of the meadow with a bunch of tree stumps that had to be removed at one time.

Two bulls were fighting, and they didn’t notice that we had driven up. We watched them fight for awhile, and as the bulls moved around, Dad pulled the truck way back because when bulls “break” from their fight, the loser doesn’t pay attention as to where he’s going and Dad knew he might crash into the truck — or they might hit it when fighting.

During the drive to the hay meadow, we checked to make sure there weren’t any droopy animals. We checked to make sure there was enough feed and mineral. We checked the amount of water in the creek, especially during a dry fall, to be assured that the cattle had enough to drink.

If an animal was missing, we searched it out. Besides that we got to see other animals that depended on the hay meadow — rabbits, birds, deer, badgers, to name a few.

Checking cattle was a necessary chore, but it was enjoyable. We were together. We shared our thoughts. We had fun, and we learned about the environment, too. There’s nothing like family time on the ranch.

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