Steamboat Springs Autumn. What a truly beautiful time of the year. In the Yampa Valley, we regale in the glory of the colors: deep blue skies that carry the warmth of reduced daylight, white clouds that beckon us to wrap ourselves within them, the deep reds of the scrub oak mixed with the yellow and oranges of the aspen and the almost black-green of the pines. Add a dusting of white snow on the very tops of the mountains and the combination literally can take our breath away.
It is a time that demands attention. Those of us involved in agriculture are well aware of the lessening of daylight hours and the coolness of the nights. There is much work to be done before the snow falls, covering the ground for a minimum of five months. The haying must be completed, the bales stacked into common areas and the stack-yards fenced to keep cattle and elk away from the commodity that the livestock rely on during the cold days.
Grain must be harvested and delivered to market or stored in on-farm granaries. Cattle and sheep must be gathered from their summer ranges, sorted and shipped to their winter homes. Water tanks need to be drained. Irrigated meadows are given a final dose of water. Equipment needs to be winterized and stored. And everyone replaces the irrigating shovel with the snow shovel.
Fall is also a time of reflection. Grandfathers watch their youngsters step onto the school bus and question where the time has gone - it wasn't so very long ago that their own children were headed off to the new experiences of higher education. Women talk about how fast summer passed while they were raking hay, riding horseback through the summer pastures and fixing their favorite casserole for a neighborhood picnic. The "annual paychecks" come across the kitchen table as lambs, calves, steers, hay and grain are sold and delivered. Checkbooks are re-balanced and the dreaded safari to the bankers begins anew.
And this year, our entire region talks about the people that we have lost to tragic circumstances, as well as some of the community leaders who died of old age. We miss them and will remember them. We wish their families well.
As another year closes in on us, it is time for the annual Ag Fall Gathering. The members of our varied agriculture organizations soon will receive their invitation to join their neighbors and friends for industry updates, good food, socializing and entertainment. Time to mark your calendar and save the date: Nov. 8 in Steamboat Springs. The various organizational meetings will start at 1 p.m. and will be staggered throughout the afternoon so you can hear what each of the groups are working on. Supper will be served at 4 p.m., awards at 5:30 p.m., and toe-tappin' entertainment at 6 p.m.
It is the right time to enjoy the fruits of our labors and give a word of thanks for the opportunity to work in Routt County agriculture.
Daughenbaugh is the executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.