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RANCH MUSINGS: Special occasions require the downing of tools to focus on some special person

While I have missed the occasional birthday party, I did take time for two old friends
Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

What does a rancher/farmer do in the middle of the short harvest season when interruptions present themselves?

Such interruptions as the celebrations of life in the event of a death and a birthday party of a grandchild of someone else important to the community or us require the downing of tools to focus for half a day on some special person.

While I have missed the occasional birthday party of a grandchild, I did take time for two old “friends.”

Mike Carlson passed recently, and many showed up to pay respects for a life well-lived. He had a long career with the Ministry of Forests in its many incarnations.

Many speakers at his celebration spoke about his love of family, his dedication to the job in the forest service, and fun with friends hunting and fishing.

One of my poignant memories of the 12 years I spent serving the people of the Cariboo in government was the professionalism of Mike Carlson.

I could go into a lot of details of his service to the people of the Cariboo and the Government of B.C. but let me say this: Mike Carlson was a consummate public servant. He served governments of different political stripes as a professional civil servant should, retiring as the regional manager of the Ministry of Forests.

Any failures of public policy were to be owned by the government in power, not those tasked with implementing policy as Mike was. As the Minister of Forests for four years, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mike’s service to the public. He set an example and standard of the highest sort.

Another pause to reflect came just last week when we attended the celebration of life for Charlie Brous, late of Soda Creek.

To me, his life has been full since arriving at the Sutton Ranch East of 150 Mile in 1962 when I was still in high school and worked at the time at my dad’s store (now Marshall’s store). I have fond memories of him coming into the store. He was and remained until his death the quintessential cowboy.

His work as a competitive team roper and supporter of rodeo organizations made a better life for many young ranchers and cowboys and cowgirls.

As a lifelong neighbour, Jared Fletcher, attested in a long and well-written eulogy of sorts, he could be inspirational and supportive to a young family learning the ropes of starting out on their own working alongside them at key times of the year: branding, haying, etc.

Charlie was a muleskinner, a cowboy, a truck driver, a ‘cat’ operator, and then a tremendous gardener working with Lynda as her partner at Fraser Bench Farm. Charlie received the highest honour of being inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Rest well you two; thanks for your public service.

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