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Across the fence: Time is a commodity … so sneak away!

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 January 2020

Often, commodities are understood through tangibles: money, resources, supplies, land, etc. These are all good things, but there are non-tangible commodities too: talent, education, ideas and innovations.

I’d argue that the most important is: time.

Time is something we all get, although none of us know how much. Whatever time we are allotted, we want to make the most of it, and yet it keeps slipping away.

Ranchers are always looking for more time, although they sure spend it well. Usually. I mean, there are those producers with big hats that aren’t respectable, but for the most part, ranchers are a big-hearted bunch.

Here are some of my favorite ways to tangibly “see” time:

  • Land. I love the way land looks when stewarded well – grass that isn’t overgrazed, dirt that holds moisture – accomplishing these things are a good use of our time.

  • A good fence. It takes time, but it shows care and concern to replace bad fences.

  • Kids. Even as our kids get older, we enjoy being with them. Putting time into their interests as well as their character is worth every second.

  • Friends. Having people to share life with makes everything better.

  • Cattle. Taking time to select for positive genetics in our bulls and culling what isn’t working for us brings multiple benefits.

  • Travel! Yes, traveling is now a favorite in my list of ways for appreciating time.

Maybe not everyone likes to travel, but getting away from the ranch is so healthy, especially if you can go somewhere with your spouse. Just the two of you.

You know how it goes in life – there’s family events, school events, life occurrences and most of them afford us with plenty of time to spend with other people. Often lots of other people.

Yet how often do we get time alone with our spouse?

Last February, my hubby and I hopped on a plane and flew to California for a few days.

Did you know that in California we did not see snow?

Back home, the kids were telling us about the 18 inches of white stuff dumped on them – and that was just one of the days we were gone. It was subzero at home the entire five days we were traveling.

We felt slightly guilty for not being there to help them weather the storm, but not guilty enough to stop us from sending them pictures of palm trees and sun.

On top of this, we didn’t even have to start the rental car 30 minutes before leaving to get it defrosted. Heck, we didn’t even think of plugging it in at night!

Even though it was 50-60ºF while we were there, we didn’t mind their winter weather. We soaked up some sun and drove all over the place. We headed through forests and dropped down to the coast.

We talked about the grass we saw – it was green!

In northern California, we drove by ranches that grazed cattle under fruit and nut trees – this does not happen in Montana. We talked about the preventative care needed in warmer climates – more frequent delousing and such.

We ate out! Like at restaurants! We struggled not to compare our beef with restaurant fare. We even ate at a pub with two people we didn’t know.

We acted like tourists; although I’m sure we stuck out anyway. In fact, on the bus we hopped on from the airport to the rental car lot, a lady asked where we were from. We ended up having a lengthy conversation with her, as her job was promoting healthy eating in schools. We had a wonderful discussion with her about local food and “homegrown.”

Our hair didn’t freeze outside the water at the hot tub.

I took pictures of flowers – in February! This was novelty for me.

We went to the ocean and got sprayed by the waves. We were in winter jackets because 45 degrees on the ocean is also chilly, but the sound of the boats and the lighthouses brought variety to our lives.

Simply getting away and having someone else check the water holes and the cows was such a blessing. Being a rancher means being on call, and when we got a call in California, we had to refer them to our wonderful friend who was helping us out.

Getting away for a few days helped us recharge our batteries. It gave us a reprieve from the winter weather at home. We found traveling in February was inexpensive as well.

I know it isn’t easy to get away. Even up to the last few minutes driving to the airport, we kept asking ourselves if we were doing the right thing – were we okay to leave?

Our ranch is a first-generation ranch, so while we love our extended family a lot, we are the family ranch. Fortunately, we have a few wonderful neighbors!

Time is our most precious commodity, and if you can get away from the ranch for a few days with your spouse, I’d highly recommend it. Depending on where you travel though, don’t be surprised if someone asks if you’re a “real cowboy”!  end mark

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