Ranch Musings: Longest night, shortest day

Regular columnist David Zirnhelt writes about solstice and the season of renewal

David Zirnhelt

Observer Contributor

Not too long ago, it was winter solstice. For many religions and spiritual pathways, it means a time of reawakening, a time when the sun is renewed or reborn.

This year, for me, being outside at this time and sensing the little sunlight time there actually has been a time for reflection. The focus is just how much different light there can be, especially on short days.

One of the greatest joys is being on the land in so many different places on the ranch landscape. This experience is especially acute when the sun can enter our space from such a low angle that yellow rays turn the green trees to gold.

I am glad to have these moments getting firewood, feeding livestock, fixing things broken during the summer and fall rush.

Now that it is frozen, much work on the land is slowing or stopped. Time to rest and time to reflect.

Solstice season, including Christmas, New Year’s and all the other celebrations, open the way for renewal based on some inner reflection of the year gone by and the year ahead. Each longer day brings potential for renewal.

My year-end hope for everyone is that each has found a way to quietly reflect inwardly and then look around and feel positive for the future.

On a ranch, with many of the animals nurturing the new life within, there is a lot to look forward to in the late winter an early spring. New life is inevitable.

I feel for people in such places as Australia coping with fire and tremendous heat and drought.

Our hopefulness can be founded in what we can do to make things better for the world. This can begin with taking care of the earth around us and the living things in our care.

On that note, I will be out to see how our cattle are making the transition to full winter feed (hay), having been on pasture until the last week of December.

On another note, you sometimes hear people refer to a “Rancherie” as opposed to a “ranch.”

The common use of the word “ranch” means a large place that keeps livestock, mostly cattle and horses, but sheep and other things, but then it is usually qualified by stating a “sheep” ranch or a “bison” ranch, etc.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.

READ MORE:Ranch Musings: Forget dinosaurs


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