Cuyler and Kacey Huffman work moving cattle on the family ranch, 153 Mile Ranch. Jenny Huffman photo

Cuyler and Kacey Huffman work moving cattle on the family ranch, 153 Mile Ranch. Jenny Huffman photo

Ranch Musings: When is a “break” not a break?

David Zirnhelt writes a column each week for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Ranch Musings

By David Zirnhelt

It is interesting to ask the question of farmers and ranchers whether they had a foundational vision or dream for their venture and home. Many of us are driven by European notions of a better life, a good income and owning our own means of production.

We can feel rich (prosperous) if our ranch is large and has lots of cattle. But does that richness include enjoying the short-lived show of wild roses that has just been with us. Our driveway and pastures are absolutely laden with the perfume and quiet beauty of these native plants.

In our marriage, which will celebrate 50 years, when rainy days or tough times happen, we almost joke about whether or not one or the other promised a “rose garden.” We were likely in our 20s when the country (soul) song I never promised you a rose garden was popularized by George Jones and Lynn Anderson in the early 1970s.

The refrain of this song is this;

I beg your pardon

I never promised you a rose garden

Along with the sunshine

There’s gotta be a little rain sometime

Rain we did get this spring and at the right time during this month of June. Spirits are high with a tremendous forecast of heat and sun needed to dry hay. This is coming early this year. We are turning wheels in the hay fields earlier than we ever have.

After a not-so-good-year last year in terms of hay quality, we live and hope for a great crop this year!

The rose garden metaphor is appropriate for these times. We just finished a very busy calving season which pushed up against other spring work like fence repairs and some farmland work and needed a little break.

The opportunity for a break came when a delivery of bulls from Saskatchewan offered us a chance to meet the truck in Kamloops. The very idea of a quick trip to Kamloops and back seemed appealing.

I said to my wife, that she didn’t have to go, but we could make a little break of it. She was more than willing! Just to get way appealed more than trying to “rest” at home.

Then I remembered the ranch management consultant that advised rancher groups he spoke to that male ranchers should NOT think that taking their partners to a bull sale would really be an “away date.”

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Our 24-hour round trip was just what the doctor ordered. The grass on the hills was green as could be. The rose garden of the mind was in full bloom!

The moral of the song is that there will be rainy times in relationships and in some cases, no one will be there to pull you out of some deep water you jump into.

For my part I will take the full bloom and promise of wild roses when they come.

Then when hay blossoms come (now) I will focus on their beauty from the height of the tractor seat!

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 TRU.

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