Tommy Rossi: Autumn rolls
October 21, 2007
Steamboat Springs — As autumn rolls in, farmers, ranchers and small landowners are faced with many tasks to do before the snow is here to stay. Many of us are finishing up the summer hay season, gardening and other tasks we have put off so we can enjoy barbecues, family gatherings, the majestic orange sunsets or playing in the green grass with our children.
The truth is, we have had so many things besides fun that we don’t know where to even start. There is always the never-ending miles of fence wires to stretch, staples to pound and posts that need set. Then we get home, check the cows, calves and bulls in the different pastures, then on to the replacement heifers, and then the yearlings in the north 40. The meadows need to be irrigated, and then back home just in time to hop in the pickup with the spouse and children and head into town for 4-H, FFA, a dance or sporting event that the kids are in. Sometimes we adults will sneak in a meeting, or even treat ourselves to dinner if time allows. Then back home to sit at our computer desk, or in many cases we sit at the kitchen table, with a sharp pencil, calculator in hand, scratching our heads as we balance the checkbook wondering how we will ever make ends “meat.”
Onto the next day/month, where we find ourselves bringing in the crop, trying to reap the rewards of our efforts. The whole time as we are sitting in the tractor, paying close attention to the matter at hand, it is hard not to think about the rising fuel, labor and overhead costs. Then over the radio comes the market report, and the futures are down. To top things off, the clouds are building and some piece of machinery breaks down. This is usually a perfect ending to the day, but the neighbor calls and has your bull that pushed through the fence into his corral.
When tempers get shorter, so do the days, and the nights get cooler and we learn to adjust to not enough hours in the day. By this time, many of us are on the way to finishing our harvests. As harvest comes to an end, we try to get caught up on the fall chores. This usually includes winterizing and putting harvest equipment away, getting those hard-to-get bulls from the high country that brushed up earlier, all the yearlings rounded up and shipped, fixing the corrals for pregnancy testing, vaccinating and weaning. These are major tasks but can be overshadowed by the pure enjoyments of travels to school socials and sporting events, incoming hunters and bull sales, where we catch up with our neighbors and friends that live down the road.
That is how life usually is for at least one partner in the family or ranch, while the other is holding down another job in town. Truth be told, without the other income, we would probably not even think of indulging ourselves with thinks such as mobile phones, internet or newer automobiles. Even on the ranch, many of us find ourselves spending our nonagriculture disposable income on ranch supplies. This is because the money in our pocket that we spend at Murdoch’s, local feed suppliers, or parts stores is usually made from off the ranch or farm, and is more readily available to spend. This may seem like a great idea at the time, but it can sure make taxes a challenge.
All of the things I stated above are things I truly love and admire about the ranch life. I am Tom Rossi and chose to come back to the amazing Yampa Valley. Sure I have been around the world, and seen many wonderful sights, but no place has ever made me feel as good as I do when I come down Rabbit Ears Pass or over Gore Pass and see those snow-capped Flat Tops and beautiful Green Ridge. Sometimes I find myself watching my dad, uncle, countless friends and neighbors and wonder why they manage their outfits the way they do, but I am quickly reminded that “it is easy to judge when you’re on the other side of the fence.” So I go about each day with a positive attitude, try to do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can, and live by one motto: Behind every successful cowboy is a wife with a good job in town.