Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: YEAR (05/17/18)
- TITLE: Ranch Life
By Bonnie Kronberger
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“Wake up, Lee,” I shouted, shaking him vigorously. He opened one eye, then another. “It’s April. Today we put the cows out to pasture!” I squealed. “Get up!”
Lee quickly slipped into his clothes, reluctantly foregoing his coffee. He was as eager as I to experience this delightful transition. Boots on, winter coats left hanging on the hooks, we headed out to the pasture gate.
Once there, we began calling. “Come Boss, come Boss.” Our voices overlapped one another as we sang out the words. “Boss, Boss, come Boss.” Angus heads lifted, black tails swishing back and forth. Lowing began as the animals heeded the call.
Our eyes swept over the field, an expanse of eaten-down, trampled grass dotted with mud puddles and manure pies. Yellow remnants of hay trodden into the ground colored the landscape, the only evidence of hundreds of bales served up to the cattle.
But new life had erupted in the adjoining pasture. Sturdy fences kept the hungry cows away from the tender green shoots of grass, waving gently in the breeze. Spring had sprung its glorious growth on the empty field.
“Let’s do it.” Lee shouted with a grin. The lowing increased in volume, as the cattle anticipated what was coming. They pushed one another to get closer. Moos rang out, calling their babies to stay close. Lee unlatched the gate, stepping back quickly as the herd pushed its way hungrily through the opening. Immediately we heard the sounds of grass being ripped from its stalk, teeth grinding, as sixty cows began to fill their bellies with the sweet nourishment.
Baby calves cautiously moved among the tall grass. They soon gained confidence and kicked their hindquarters high as they danced around their new playground.
Winter was gone, along with the daily feeding of hay and the caring of newborn calves. This was a time of renewal for the land and the living.
Spring turned into summer. The green fields lost their freshness. Hayfields were ready to be cut and barns waited to be filled. We started out refreshed, hoping and praying the rain would hold off on our drying windrows and that the equipment would keep running until the last bale was put into the barn. Lee worked with a couple of hired boys, walking the hayfields, stacking bale after bale onto the trailer. Once the bales were tied down, they’d drive to the barn and unload. No air stirred inside the sweltering barn. Trickles of sweat poured from their bodies as each tossed bale seemed heavier than the last.
While the guys worked, I ran the tractor, raking cut grass into windrows to dry, or baling up the dried hay into row after row of heavy bales. Over and over, day after day we repeated the process until the fields were empty and the barns were filled. A time to rejoice in God’s bountiful blessings.
Summer turned to fall. Each season brought its own newness. Fall brought respite from hard labor. Diligent preparation allowed the ranch to now sustain the animals through another year. Time to care for our needs. Hunting season! Elk and venison meat soon filled our freezer. Firewood was split and stacked, ready for the cold weather.
Winter arrived, a time our cows gave birth. The calves were surprisingly hardy and did well even in inclement weather. Warm clothing and proper boots helped Lee and I tolerate the winter elements quite well also. Young calves were vaccinated and a numbered tag pierced into their ear. Each mama cow paced in agitation as we handled her calf.
Every day the cows had to be fed, as the land no longer provided enough. While we met their needs, God met ours. The blessing of full barns lightened our hearts as our workload got heavier. Rain or shine, in sickness and in health, we fed and tended the cattle. When spring began to show her glory again, we were eager for another cycle of seasons. What a gift to our souls.
Year after year presented a plethora of activities as we cared for the land, the animals, and ourselves, and we delighted in the privilege to be stewards of God’s creation.
As Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
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