Under the Wire
The older I get
April 6, 2022
I have operated a commercial cow/calf operation nearly all of my adult life. That follows having grown up, depending on who you talk to, on cow/calf ranches operated by my parents, all my aunts and uncles and grandparents on both sides of my family tree. The cow owner lineage goes back much farther than that. Since most of us Westerners got here because our ancestors lived east of here where there were just farms, I can’t say those generations were ranchers.
Unlike all my predecessors, I attended college and graduated with an Ag degree. Colorado State University sent me into the world full of confidence I was smarter than all before me and would just automatically be a better cow man than all before me.
On the first heavily financed ranch I purchased, my every move was to prove that theory. Got rid of most of the bulls and began an AI program. Put the cows through the chute several times, synchronizing and breeding. Had to have a very expensive chute to do that. Read all the magazines so I could use the correct feed supplements, vaccinations and growth stimulants. All also very expensive. I wasn’t worried, though. I was smart. All were, and still are, very good practices. I was just in a period of my life when I could mess up an iron ball.
Along came the 80s. Like many of you who experienced them, quite a few changes came into my life. Mostly, ranch, cows and expensive squeeze chute had new owners.
Ten years later, the world gave me a rare second chance. New wife, Sue, a little pasture land, a few cows, and a whole new approach to the cattle business. For beginners Sue insisted we only buy what we had the money for. Missed that class at CSU. Over the next few years, two completely new concepts entered my life. We began making money and most important of all, we began doing things the way my father had done them. As each year has passed, we find ourselves doing more “old fashioned” things, with a bit of technology thrown in here and there. Our son David has joined us, bringing a surprising appreciation for the “old ways.” Every year we move a few more steps closer to “the way grandpa did it.” Grandpa sold $100 or less calves for years and paid for a ranch. Stopping with an eighth grade education, all my forefathers have proven better trained than I. It now seems “The older I get the smarter my father was.”
One confession is in order here. With Sue’s approval that we could pay for it, last year we bought a brand new, squeaky clean and shiny … squeeze chute. Think grandpa would have approved.