Just Put the Salt Out!
The cattle needed salt.
I’m a bit forgetful these days so I wrote it on my list.
Then I forgot to look at my list all day. Instead, I put hay out for the newly weaned lambs, built fence, and paid bills.
Then I woke up in the night worried about salt for the cows.
That turned into worry about the grass – did the cattle have enough grass in that pasture for another couple of weeks or should I move them?
That turned into worry about the water – was the trough working?
By 3 a.m. I thought “Just put the salt out!”
I could check the grass and the trough at the same time. This was not rocket science.
The next morning, I got distracted by other things and didn’t put the salt out.
Instead, I worried about the grass and the trough as I muddled through the day.
My feet felt like they were stuck in gumbo. Sure, I was keeping the livestock fed and sorting through my husband’s, Steve’s, estate with a foggy brain, but normal people would never think twice about salting the cattle. Just put the salt out!
I’d felt that immobilization once before.
A few years ago, Steve needed surgery for prostate cancer. The hospital had mis-scheduled so Steve went under the knife a week before calving season started. He would be out of commission for at least a month. In other words, almost the entire calving season.
I know how to check cows, identify potential problems and make the call to intervene, but Steve had taken all that responsibility for the past few years while our daughter, Abby, was a toddler. He loved it and I could help when he needed me.
I brought Steve home from the hospital and then went to bring my horse to the corral, handy for the next day’s morning check for newborn calves.
At the time, I was riding my mare who is far from the perfect horse. She stays on the ranch for sentimental reasons, but she is flat-footed, turns on her shoulders and falls down sometimes – not fast; usually I can keep my cup of coffee upright as I step off -- but it is inconvenient.
Needless to say, I was worried about my team’s ability to successfully navigate the beginning of our annual income.
I woke up in the night wondering if I needed to saddle my mare or if I could just ride bareback. It always took a while to saddle her because another of her traits is her refusal to stand still.
Even as the thought crossed my mind, I knew I needed a saddled horse. I might need to rope a calf or bring a cow to the corral. Riding bareback was setting myself up for certain failure.
So every day, I saddled my horse to check the cows. My mare and I had a great time each morning watching the sun hit the coulees, spotting the mule deer among the cows and tagging the newborn calves. Oh, I had a few problems – one cow tried to calve on the side of a hill and rolled upside down to die. Another had twins that tried to come out at the same time. But my calving percentage was in line with all of our other calving seasons and we paid the bills that year.
All I had to do was start by saddling my horse.
So, after three days of worrying about salt, grass and water, I loaded salt and mineral in the back of the pickup and took it to the cattle.
The pasture grass looked good and the water trough ran just fine.
All I had to do was put the dang salt out.
This season, when I count my blessings, I count my saddle and salt among them, along with my new rallying cry – you guessed it – just put the salt out!