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From the Kitchen Table: Transitions

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Oh what a wonderful fall to get things done! We had to chop ice for a couple of days on our full reservoirs, but the weather warmed back up again. The spectacular fall display of autumn leaves is gone, but oh, what a show we had. 

I was driving home after dark a while back and three livestock trucks and trailers passed me on their way to the next morning’s load out. In the distance, they resembled ships on the sea, all lit up and sailing ahead. Truck drivers sure love their lights. 

Most folks have their fall shipping done and are preparing for winter. It’s that time when many are also winterizing their machinery and putting away haying equipment. 

We turned the bucks out in some of our April shed-lambing ewes – here we go again. 

It’s also that time when many farmers and ranchers are purchasing some “spare parts” themselves. Bob will be getting a new knee this week, one of our neighbors just got his a few weeks ago and another neighbor received a new shoulder. 

The last time I looked, the average age of ranchers and farmers is around 56. I’m sure this number has crept up on many of us, and a long life of wear and tear is hard on the body.

Bob and I are very fortunate our children are interested in keeping the ranch going. Our daughter Kate is a full-time partner and our son Jim is full-time tech support. He shows up for every major sheep and cow working. 

Who knows, the grandkids may even want to carry it on. It’s a good, hard life. 

As we head into our seventh decade, I have convinced Bob to take some time off. We are going to try a couple of months away from the ranch this January and February. 

We’ll be leaving Kate in charge of the sheep and a handful of cows. She’ll also be taking care of a whole passel of dogs – hers, ours, the guard dogs and the Peruvian’s dogs who will be going home for a few months. That’s a lot of dog food! 

The word on El Niño isn’t for sure yet, but I’m hoping for a milder winter this year – for Kate and everyone. 

Speaking of transitions, this will be my last column for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup (WYLR). I wrote my first one five years ago in November. It was about the kitchen table, where most things happen on a ranch – meetings, bookwork, important piles to be dealt with, coffee with the neighbors and lego building with the grandkids. It’ll be cleared off and set for a thankful day on Nov. 23. 

I have enjoyed writing old and new stories. I never delved into hard subjects much – we have wonderful writers like Cat Urbigkit and the staff at WYLR for that. 

Thanks to my family for letting me write about them. I’m pretty sure I haven’t completely run out of Bob stories. 

To close out, here is a timely piece from November 2018.

Green Knees  

November is here, and my husband Bob is going to get one of his knees replaced. 

Bad knees are a hazard of the trade when running sheep. Years of bagging ewes in the chute and dodging wild ewes in the lambing shed, not to mention ornery cows in the alley, all add up to bad knees.

Many years ago, Bob decided to get his knee scoped. The doctor used an arthroscope to go in and look at his knee joint and do a little repair. 

Bob decided he would do this around Thanksgiving, as we were planning to drive to Colorado and visit my sister and her family. 

“I might as well get this done when I’m taking a few days off,” he said.

It was an outpatient surgery, and Bob took a long shower the morning before we headed to Casper. 

The day before, he bought a double-deck trailer load of lambs up near Buffalo. They had come off of an alfalfa meadow and were a little “wet,” so Bob had to crawl up in the top deck to get them all unloaded and he was a little wet by the end as well. 

After checking in and disrobing, Bob was seated in the exam room in a backless gown.  This is when he happened to look down at his knees – they were green. He was dumbfounded.

“What is that?” the nurse asked. 

“Sheep shit,” Bob replied, assuring her it was the color of money.

The nurse began to scrub his knees in preparation for surgery. 

She looked up at Bob and said, “I might as well do the other one, too.”

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  

We will be enjoying all of our family favorites – cornbread stuffing, pecan pie, pickled beets, homemade cranberry sauce, and the best of all, leftovers the next day – and this year, physical therapy. Lots of physical therapy. 

Thanks to my readers and WYLR. It’s been a fun ride.

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