…well, not really, but we've been able to slow down from "warp speed" to "just breaking the sound barrier".
Calving is about 85% done. The bonepile is a bit larger this year than normal. We had a rather miserable April as most of the reigon did. Eighteen inches of snow and most days 20 degrees below normal made for a long month. It took its toll on the newborn calves. I attributed nine deaths to the weather, either directly or indirectly. As discouraging as that is for me, I know of others who sustained larger losses. Now that the weather has warmed up and the grass has started to turn green, the cold, sunless days of April seem like a distant memory. I think cattlemen who calve in the later winter/early spring must all have short memories, because by the time June rolls around, we still turn the bulls out the same time as last year. However, the thought of having most of the calves in May next year is making me rethink our turn-out dates.
We're excited about Kelly, our summer intern, arriving in the next couple weeks. This is the first year we will have an "official" intern. It will be a learning process for all of us. Our hired help in the past was mostly just to build fence, make hay, move cows, and mow the lawn. We're planning to involve her in more of the range management decisions and implementation, as well as have her assist in developing our new Ranch Tour venture. I'm planning to have her contribute to the website, so look for her tagline in the coming months.
Speaking of the Ranch Tour, it's starting to take shape. Dad has been busy in the shop building a buggy to haul people around in. Mom has been coming up with interesting ways to show visitors the prairie ecosystem. And I have made a web page for it. Similar to the internship, it will be a learning process for us to find out what people are actually interested in. Other ranches have done similar ventures, so we are starting with some of the ideas we've heard from them. It sure has potential to be a really fun part of our ranch.
You also might have noticed some changes to the website's theme as well. I'm trying to better organize the content to make it easier to find the information that you're looking for. When I think of the diversity that our ranch contains, it can be overwhelming to come up with a simple way to tell you about it on this site. My plan is to create content that fits in two broad categories – Ranch Operations and Visitor Information. Ranch Operations will provide information on what we do with the land and livestock. Whether you are a fellow cattleman or someone who recently found out milk doesn't just come from the grocery store, there should be something for you there. The Visitor Information category will have information about hunting, tours, and accommodations at the ranch. If there is something you would like to see added to the website, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An aside – The title (and closing line) of this blog post comes from "News from Lake Wobegon," a segment of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion on public radio. It is made-up news from a made-up town in Minnesota, but it seems like he could also say "the names are made up, but the stories are real." It is to small town life what I imagine "The Office" TV show is to working in a cubicle.
Speaking of small towns, Naomi had a real small-town experience recently. She has been working a few days this spring doing preschool screening in the area. She was working in Bowdle, population 502, a couple weeks ago. The janitor came in to the room where the screening was taking place and aksed Naomi if she drove a gray van. Obviously it didn't belong to one of the students or school faculty, because he would have recognized it and known whose it was. Well, it was our van, and it had a flat tire. The janitor asked Naomi if she would like it fixed; she said yes. The janitor said he would take care of it if she gave him the keys. He called up ARC, the local repair shop, who came up to the school, drove the van back to the shop, fixed the tire, and delivered it back to the school. As the ladies chatted about the tire getting fixed, those who were from Bowdle all said something like "oh, ARC is a good place to get it fixed." "They do a good job." "They're such nice guys." After the screening was done, the janitor still had not returned the van keys. They were in the van, of course – where else would they be? And the bill…well, there wasn't one. Naomi stopped at the furniture store after work to buy mattresses for the kids. She asked where ARC was. The store owner walked her outside and pointed her in the right directionon, commenting that "those are some good guys at ARC." She stopped there on her way out of town and paid the $15 fee for fixing the flat.
That's all the news from
Lake Wobegon Swan Creek, where all the women are strong, all the men are, um, well…..and all the children are above average (especially if you ask their Grandpa.)