Growing up on a ranch there are cardinal rules you learn never to break. I think most ranch kids learn these rules through osmosis in the womb, they are that important. On our Ranch the big three are:
1) Always close the gate behind you.
2) Never leave string or wire where the animals can get into it.
3) Don’t wear your cowpoo covered work boots into Mom’s house (EVAR).
Obviously we have these rules for a reason. If you leave a gate open you run the risk of letting cattle out, or getting them mixed up, or if a storm or gust of wind comes up, your gate can be blown right off its hinges. Better to close the gate than create a lot of extra work for yourself.
String and wire is a broad category – basically this means clean up after yourself, no duh, right? Well you would be surprised-
This past fall we had a several intense winter storms hit us rather dramatically. Ranches flooded, cattlepeople were scrambling to move to the valley away from the snow in the mountains. A desperate fellow Butte County Cattlemen, moved some of his cattle into one of our “holding pastures”. This pasture is small, with no solid source of water so it’s a holding pen, for when we ship out, or get ready to “work” the cattle. It’s not meant to winter cattle, or even have cattle in it for more than a few days. But desperate times.
This cattlemen (out of respect of my industry, I won’t name names, unless this happens again) figured out there was not enough food for his cattle in our holding pen. You see, his cattle kept breaking out of the pen, looking for an extra mouthful of grass. Every evening when I would get home from work his cattle were out in our driveway (Disclaimer: I was less than pleased seeing this everyday, it sucked! But I digress…)
Anyway he finally started bringing supplemental feed, big round bales of cut corn stalks. His cattle were a lot happier, but he broke the cardinal rule – pick up your strings. I spent two of my precious days off picking up strings and I am not happy about it. However I am getting a blog about out of it, so there is the silver lining.
Why is it bad to leave strings and wire where your cattle or animals can eat it, you ask? Great question! Let’s say you have a happy little cow eating grass this spring, she doesn’t realize she ate some of that string, pretty soon, she starts looking bad, losing weight, then she DIES! Cows can’t digest plastic or metal. At least with metal pieces you can put a magnet down the cow’s throat and sometimes save them (I’ll blog about that if we ever have to do it again).
It was a huge disappointment picking up string. The cattlemen who had their cattle here should know better and leaving trash on someone elses ranch is incredibly bad form, especially when they are doing you a major favor.