“Honey, when will the kids and I get to spend more time with you?” I asked my husband. “Things will slow down in December,” he said.
“I’d like to paint the kids’ bathroom, when do you think you might be able to help me with that?” I asked a few weeks later. “I’ll probably have time to help you in December,” was his reply.
“I was going to try to go through your Grandma’s things that are still in those tubs in the back of the garage but I need your help sorting. When will you have an afternoon to dig through it with me?” His reply? You guessed it…December.
I was beginning to believe that December was going to be a miraculous month. The only problem was, it was only August. Here, let me back up a bit, so you can truly understand my dilemma. I was raised a city girl who married a third generation rancher. Granted, when we first married, we lived in the city and my husband had a “city job.” He surprised me one evening after returning home from a trip to the family ranch with the news that he was ready to move back home and work full time on the ranch with his dad and his brother. After my initial shock wore off, and I was convinced he was wasn't teasing me (like he so often does), I was actually quite excited for this new adventure in our life.
So, five months later, we sold our house, packed everything we owned (in a horse trailer of course), and drove “home.” To say it was a shock to go from a county appraiser’s wife to a rancher’s wife would be a bit of an understatement. You know what I found out? The work is never done! 365 days a year, seven days a week, something must get done on the ranch. And my husband was doing his darnedest to be the one to accomplish it all. Not because he was trying to prove himself to his family but because he loved it! I had never seen him so happy to go to work every day. Even as his time with me and, our then two year old, grew less and less, I tried not to complain. I just couldn’t stand the thought of wiping that silly grin off his face. And as my “honey-dos” began to pile up, I just breathed deep and waited for December.
The work is never done! 365 days a year, seven days a week, something must get done on the ranch.
Now, those of you who were born and raised on a beef cattle ranch, can probably guess what happened next. But, me? I was oblivious as to what was about to take place in this magical month of December I had been, ever so patiently, waiting for. I thought, “Well, December makes sense because he won’t be irrigating, he won’t be farming, the cows are all on the winter pasture so they can’t possibly need him…” I’m sure you can see where this is headed. Guess what I discovered in my first winter on the ranch? It just so happens to be the perfect time to cut fence stays so they will be ready for repair work come spring. It is perfect for working on all that equipment that broke during fall harvest.
There isn’t a better time to clean the shop, the trucks and the freezers. Since it’s such a “slow” time, winter is also perfect for putting in the new wood stove in the calving barn so the poor little calves that happen to be born in our spring blizzard will have a warm place to rest and gain strength before heading out into the corrals. Speaking of corrals, winter is also a great time to clean the pens, straighten the gates, and level the dirt, all in preparation for a late winter calving season.
Oh, yeah, one more thing I almost forgot to mention…the cows. Turns out, there is no natural feed for cows in Southwest Colorado from about December to May. That means they have to be fed. Every single day. For five months. Don’t get me started on the feed…buying hay (at just the right price), hauling hay to four different haystacks that are twenty miles apart from each other, and loading, feeding and reloading the tractor. Every single day. Oh, and chopping ice in our frozen ponds spread out over 5,000 acres of land, so the cows will have water to drink. Every single day.
Eight Decembers have passed since that first winter on the ranch and despite what you may be thinking, I’m still a rancher’s wife! I realized that if I was going to see my husband, and if our now, three children, were going to spend time with him, then it would have to be a team effort. Today, we all help out on the ranch. Although it wasn’t always easy, and I had a huge learning curve, I’ve come to love this life. Even in December.
Sara and her husband Zandon became involved in Farm Bureau at the state level shortly after moving back to the ranch in 2008. It didn't take long for both of them to see what an amazing and important organization it was. In 2009 they joined the state YF&R program which would eventually lead to their appointments on the National Committee for the 2014-2016 committee. They both continue to stay actively involved in Farm Bureau from the county level up to the state. They are passionate about helping to create informed consumers and giving agriculture a voice.
Still Curious about what goes on in winter on a farm?