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Across the fence: Always trending: What our favorite lands are telling us

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 February 2020

When I was a kid, there were certain places I loved going. Usually, I loved any place with water: rivers, ponds, water slides, lakes. My grandparents had purchased a little cabin by a lake in western Montana, long before I was born, when the price was cheaper than a vehicle.

When my family could, we’d make the drive out to the cabin and stay for a few days. I had two “summer friends” that were often out with their families in nearby cabins. I loved those summer days because I had friends outside of the social paradigm of school.

More importantly, though, I remember being a kid and feeling “alive” near the water. It wasn’t just refreshing from the heat. (Actually, in the mountains of Montana, it was more a question of whether it was warm enough to swim.) Water was, and is, refreshing for my soul.

As an adult, there are other things I love, such as mountains. I like being in the mountains, but I love seeing them surround the valley, like sentinels of protection.

I also love palm trees. I have no idea why. I was in my 20s the first time I saw a palm tree – other than in pictures. Palm trees fascinate me.

Conversely, there were and still are places I’ve been that I couldn’t wait to leave. It felt like my skin crawled the entire time I was there. Maybe you’ve felt this way before.

Land has a tremendous impact on our health.

It impacts our herd health, too.

When we first moved into our place years ago and started putting cattle on it, there was one spot the cattle did not like to go. They’d run through fences – new ones – to get out of it. They’d run to what we call the East Pasture, which seems to be a happy place for them.

Some of you may think I’m crazy at this point, but I’ve seen cattle want out of a pasture badly. After they’ve been there once, trying to get them to go back is difficult. Moving cows to the East Pasture is a piece of cake. Moving them west was a different story.

We knew the land needed TLC when we bought it, so we fixed fence, put up new fence, tilled, planted, watered … whatever was needed. I even spoke blessings over the land and prayed for redemption. Then, as we were hiking around, we found cat tracks. The neighbors confirmed that mountain lions had been on their property and on ours.

It all made sense then as to why the cows didn’t like that particular pasture. They hadn’t been the only ones there.

Sometimes it is important to pay attention to not only the cows but the land as well.

You see, when we hiked that area, before the tracks were found, it felt like someone was watching me. Maybe a cat was, maybe it wasn’t. The point is: Intuition is important. We don’t always get it right, and sometimes emotions can take us down wrong paths. However, if there is something that doesn’t feel right, check it out.

Sometimes we can’t do anything about what we are sensing. Several years ago, we were gathering calves to bring to the sale yard. The calves came right in that morning in an easy gather. Yet, the whole time, I kept feeling like something was wrong. When we got to the sale, we found out that the market had plummeted that morning. Buyers were backing out of contracts. Sale prices were much lower than they were the day before.

We opted to still sell, which worked out because the prices continued to get worse. However, there wasn’t anything we could do about it. We settled in to the fact that we did the best we could at the time.

Other times, there are things we can do, especially if we ourselves – or a family member – need a change. It really helps to know things about yourself, your spouse and your kids. Some frustrations can be cured on the back of a horse. Or by spending time down by the water. Do you know what kind of land or nature you love best? Wide-open prairies? The ocean?

Obviously, we all love cattle and land, or we wouldn’t be connecting through this publication. We can share the joy that is found in watching peaceful cattle graze on lush pasture. We know cattle thrive on good feed, but they also thrive in peaceful places.

So do we. Think about the places you loved as a kid. Can you still go back to them? Or is there somewhere similar you can go? Do you have a “safe” place when the pressures of life hunt you down?

I definitely need water. Even a long shower will do. Occasionally, I like to visit a place with palm trees. And if there are mountains? Well, that’s a perk.  end mark

Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can follow her on her blog (Cowboy Wife).