Community Agriculture Alliance; Ranching in the Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance; Ranching in the Yampa Valley

Shiloh Whaley/For Steamboat Today

Ranching this time of year always proves to be something of a challenge in the beautiful Yampa Valley. We are so blessed to receive snow in an abundance to fill our reservoirs for summer irrigation. The fun of ranching in snow is the sub-zero temperatures, spring storms and mud well above our knees.

The challenge is not only daily weather, but also keeping small critters warm, strong and healthy in cold nights and semi-warm days, all of which include snow, wet, cold mud and your occasional rain. If the rancher manages to have a live calf, then he or she has to be able to get it up and nursing. If the rancher is blessed enough for that to happen, he or she then battles other challenges to keep the calf healthy with the ever changing temperatures and all the mud. This can prove to be extremely difficult to those of us who are trying to lamb and calve this time of year.

Ranchers are truly amazing individuals; they fill their days with feeding, barn chores, plowing snow, fixing tractors and repairing fences, and in between breaths, they calve and lamb. At night, they are kept busy checking livestock for incoming babies and waging an occasional battle with a coyote or two.

These sleepless hours are filled with busyness making sure new babies survive the night and get off to a good start. For sport, our American rancher keeps one or two protective mama cows around, which give them a good run, just to keep them limber and light on their feet. Ranchers call this a time of blessing; This is when the hope of the New Year comes into play with babies a plenty. If the good Lord is willing, in times of struggle, a ranch will find life's rewards.

These are the people who will be the first to volunteer, who serve on our local boards, who give abundantly, who are stewards of the land and who care for their neighbors and community. They find their blessings in fresh air, the stars above their heads and the gift of work, and they find their joy in service.

They take great pride in raising their children in the heart of God's country, showing them life's lessons rarely found in other facets of life. They understand life and death; hard work is something to value and have pride in, and it teaches them you are only as strong as your perception.

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So as you sit down to any meal of the day, be thankful God made ranchers and farmers who provide you with such luxuries so that you are not naked or hungry.

Shiloh Whaley is a member of the Community Agriculture Alliance board, serves as Soroco FFA advisor and is a South Routt multi-generational rancher.