September 12, 2007

When the Work's All Done

It has been a week or so since we did our little cattle roundup at our place on Henry's Flat in Island Park, Idaho. It had rained the day and the night before. The air was fresh and clear the morning of the roundup with steam rising off the river and lingering on the willows. The horses were fat and sassy - full of themselves in the cool pre-dawn air. Once we finally caught them, we saddled up right as the sun was cresting the hills to the east that separate us from Yellowstone Park.

As we rode out on the morning, the cattle were more than willing to be hazed into the corral by the mounted cowboys. I was expecting more action, as we have had in the past when wild steers put up a fight, but not this time. Once the leader filed in the rest followed along. Once corralled, we brought in the truck and hauled them to the feedlot that we do business with in Lewisville, Idaho.

The steers had gained an average of 2.57 pounds per day - which is good for grazing only on grass. They know me and my brand at the feedlot so the transaction went fast and smooth. I sort of hated seeing this crop of steers leave, but they can't stay in the mountains through the winter. The wind blows hard, the temperatures drop way below zero and the snow piles up. We'll start in again with a new crop of calves next spring.

As we are reaching the end of the growing season, the poem reflects some of the feelings I have at this time of year.

When the Work’s All Done
by Paul Kern

There’s a time in the mountains beyond the hill,
You can’t drink it all in and may never will.

The cattle are shipped and drop fences are down,
And we’ve made that one last trip into town.
The gates are propped up to last through the snow,
And the cabin is closed and we’re ready to go.

There’s a time in the valley at the foot of that hill,
Time slows to a stop and then seems to stand still.

The aspens glow warm in the late autumn sun,
And the high mountain snow has melted and run.
The hay’s all stacked and the crick’s run dry,
And frosty fall air warns that winter is nigh.

This is a time of satisfaction second to none,
It’s a time of fulfillment when the work’s all done.

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