Some things are best left to a younger person.
I definitely found out this past weekend that I am not as young as I used to be and that 30 to 35 years does make a difference.
When I was in my mid to late twenties, I thought it was a lot of fun to get into the corral, wrestle the young calves to the ground and assume the position with my left leg pushing the calf’s right rear leg forward and holding on to the left rear leg. It was quite an easy feat to set up a calf for the branding, vaccination, ear tagging and we actually did the castration of the young bull calves.
It’s a different world these days. Overall, I would say it is easier, but it is still a young man or woman’s pastime—as I witnessed this past weekend while at the Heil Ranch, which is located west of Meeker, just off of Highway 64.
Instead of separating the cows and calves by horseback, we got them all into corrals and opened the gates, slowly sending the calves one way and the cows the other until they were in the pen next to the chute they would follow to the squeeze chute that holds the calves for all its due procedures instead of having to wrestling them to the ground.
Once subdued in its individual chute and turned on its side, there is easier access to the vaccination area, the tagging of the ears, the left shoulder for the brand and, instead of castrating the young bulls outright, rubber bands are stretched over the scrotum, which causes the testicles to allegedly painlessly atrophy and fall off.
When all is done, the calf is released and runs off to join the other calves and young steers in another pen.
It is not.
The cows still have to be separated, prodded to go the right way in the various passageways to go into the right pens, then you have to encourage them quite vociferously to enter the chute that will take them to their day’s destiny. All the while, you are slogging around in wet, poop-filled pens and walkways, which, I can tell you, are not like a walk in the park.
I had to leave after a couple of hours of holding gates and prodding the calves and cows to go here and there, but I felt like I was 20 again—except I had only worked for about two hours instead of the six or eight hours of work when I was 20.
That is hard work no matter how old one is. But it is satisfying work. I admit that I was one tired puppy after very little of that type of work, but I had fun and it was a refresher course in how tough life on the range—and the ranch—can be.
I also got to appreciate beef just a little bit more.
But I do miss the fresh Rocky Mountain oysters. That is obviously becoming a lost memory on a lot of ranches, but it is what made me look forward to those days of going to help friends with the dockings and other procedures.
The feed after the branding was always worth the work.
For some reason, the usual schedule of high school graduations being a week apart between Meeker and Rangely was thrown out the window this year as both have traditionally been before or on Memorial Day weekend.
Rangely has its graduation this Sunday while Meeker doesn’t have its commencement exercises until June 4.
Oh well! Somebody somewhere must have had their reasons.
But whichever school and whichever weekend the graduation is on, congratulations go out to all the high school graduates from Rio Blanco County.
Given that it has taken 12 good years to make it to graduation, it is really some kind of accomplishment for these seniors.
Day by day, an elementary, middle school, junior high and high school education doesn’t seem all that grueling for the young kids—and it probably isn’t. But to string 12 years of it all together is quite an accomplishment.
In 12 years, the students have changed, the parents have changed, the teachers have changed and, perhaps most important of all, the technology has changed and the students have had to adapt to those changes.
There are growing pains, physical body changes, one’s mental processes and outlook changes, levels of maturity and responsibility change and all facets of life have taken on a completely different cast over those 12 years.
And when you put all those together plus the usual bumps in the road and the social changes that teenagers encounter, the fact that they made it all the way through high school says something pretty impressive about them.
For many, this is the beginning of the real world with a lifetime of work ahead of them. For others, there may be the military. For yet others, there may be one, two or several years of further education in the future.
And while I would personally encourage the students to continue with their education—no better way than with a junior college within the county—whatever the decision is, make that decision with the determination to succeed at whatever it is you decide to do.
You will, it seems true, get out of something whatever it is you put into it. The more you put into something the more it will come back to you with income, satisfaction, opportunity and rewards.
Best wishes, graduates. May God be with you all the way.
One of my favorite Irish blessings is highly appropriate for this time in one’s life and it offers a great road map to happiness.
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rains fall softly on your fields.
And, until we meet again, May God
hold you in the palm of his hand.
I am really happy to see two county commissioner candidate forums materialize, beginning with Monday night’s forum in Rangely with all four candidates, followed up by the forum scheduled in Meeker for Monday at the 4-H Building at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
This is an important election and the county commissioner’s race will have a notable effect on the future of Rio Blanco County for years to come.
If you were unable to make Monday’s forum in Rangely, all four candidates will again be in Meeker this coming week and it is a second chance to catch the answers to the questions you have about the future and the differences in the candidates.