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I’ve considered trying to get through a day only by saying movie quotes or recitations from Walt Whitman. What an inspiring world that would be. Lately my favorite quote comes from Miracle on 34th Street where the little girl says “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Except I find myself changing it to “a grasshopper gets his wings.“ Weird, I know, but I think one too many of the little nymphs has sprouted wings and hit me in the face this year. Coupled with a drought, the grasshoppers have brought to our household quiet tears, worry, frustration and somber moments of not knowing what to do. We carry on, though, because what else are you going to do?

During the summers, our cows are usually in pastures for several weeks at a time, if not most of the grazing season. 2021 is a little different. Pastures that normally last for a few weeks or a couple of months are lasting us approximately 5 hours, which means that the occurrence of FAMILY RANCHING ACTIVITIES is happening more frequently than it should. On the latest round of family ranching activity Danish Cowboy came into the pasture rapidly and started whirling his finger in circles in the air above his head. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to hurry up or if it meant his head was going to spin around and around until it fell off because he was so frustrated with my cattle handling skills and the inappropriate times that I chose to snap pictures. We got them moved though. And I got some pictures. It all worked out okay in the end. It always does.

The heat was oppressive but the cows needed fresh pasture so we battled dust and pushed them to water. And then proceeded to sit in shock in the fresh pasture as we discovered that the grasshoppers had made themselves at home apparently just before we got there. Less than 72 hours later we had to exit that pasture as well in another FAMILY RANCHING ACTIVITY. I spent my time that night licking the gritty dust and probably grasshopper poop off my front teeth and spitting with the eastern wind.

My husband spends his days talking with neighbors, driving around trying not to start fires, and generally living in a world where everyone wonders what the &$!? is going to happen. We’re not complaining though. We signed up for it. I’m just telling you about reality.

It is what it is and I’m reminded often that this is Next Year Country.

Like many of our neighbors, Danish Cowboy loves his cows. Not in the same way that you might love a great dog or cow horse but with a reverence for the life they lead, the work they do for him and the genetics that have been built up over decades by multiple generations. The prospect of a life without them is not one that you accept over months but is one you come to terms with over years of planning and gentle relinquishment of control to another generation. 2021 is forcing many farmers’ and ranchers’ hands, though, to make tough decisions daily about crops and herds and it is difficult for individuals and communities alike.

Resiliency. The ability to weather ridiculously hard situations and come through on the other side with a good attitude, a thankfulness for the lesson, and incredible hope for the future. It’s one of the best traits for a human being to have. We’re learning it well this year.


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