As you probably know, things on the cow front are pretty slow right now. Super slow. Which is good. Good because I get to enjoy my husband a little bit more. But also good for The Rancher to get some of the maintenance work done. After the summer we had, Locomotive really needs a lot of maintenance.
Our summer was riddled with thunderstorms rolling through our private and allotted BLM ground. The storms were popping with lightning and too many times that lightning turned to fires that swept across the range. I got pretty good and recognizing when those moments were upon us. The Rancher would get a call and you would hear things like, “Where did it hit?” and “Is there any wind? Which direction is it moving?” and “Who is there?”. Then of course there was the, “We will be down there right away!” At that point I just got some snacks and water and told him to be safe as he headed out the door.
The worst timing was when he got a call on the night of July 3. We had been gone for the weekend to a family reunion. We were tired from too much fun and too many miles sitting. And to top off the terrible timing, my brother and his family were there visiting for the upcoming holiday. So here comes a fire RIGHT on our land and The Rancher HAS to go. By brother and his daughter had been hoping for some awesome ranch action so they pile in with all the cowboys and go along with them. Not quite the action I was hoping to give them but you gotta roll with what ya got. They loved watching them work the fire, even if they got home in the wee hours of the morning. That sorta killed my plans for an early morning 4th of July 5K but it was still a great day!
We can only directly fight the fires if it is on our own land. When that’s the case the boys load up the tractor and disc and head down. We go around the fire itself and make a line to stop it from spreading any further. By discing up the grass that fuels the fire we are able to make a barrier to keep it from moving on and eating up anymore of our feed. But so many of the fires neighbored our land or were moving to our land that it was still prudent that we take the time to go down there and protect our land. Instead of going around the fire itself, they disc around our land. Doing this can totally head off the fire from causing any damage on our land. Its amazing what a rancher in a tractor can do to stop a fire.
Sometimes there can be tension between ranchers and those responsible for putting the fire out on BLM ground. We have the experience and know-how to get the fire out but we aren’t authorized to do it. But we are motivated a little more than others to get moving and get the job done because its our livelihood. Every bit of grass burnt up is feed we lose. We can supplement the feed with hay either in Locomotive or by bringing the cows home. But the greater loss is the time we lose feeding down there or not being able to keep the cows in Locomotive to calve out when we have to bring them home. So you can see how things can be a little tense…
But that stuff is all in the past. Now is the clean up. Those fires ripped right across the range taking out fences in any direction. And of course it ate up all the feed, so there was work to be done planting seed for some spring grass. The Rancher and Cowboy E spent a long week and then some getting things settled and back to the norm for the winter. It was long and hard but its so satisfying to put the effort in to do a good job to put things right again.
I haven’t been down there myself since all the fires have happened so I asked The Rancher to get some snaps of what the land looks like now. It is bare and black, but now we have new fences and new seeds planted and ready for a new season of growth.