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Paul Marchant

Paul Marchant is an active rancher who tells stories as though we're all "sittin' horseback and ridin' drag" together. His Irons in the Fire articles both entertain and spur thought about personal values and goals.

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The last of the evening light had long since disappeared on a moonless Nevada night when James finally pulled up to the Humboldt County fairgrounds. He’d been driving for what seemed like an hour past forever, and he felt like a well-used Oregon Trail ox when he finally reached Winnemucca, one of the crown jewel cities of Nevada’s Great Basin high-desert country.

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A year or two ago, I watched a documentary about a group of Yankees and Brits who’d participated in a humanitarian mission in North Korea. Their stated purpose was a medical mission.

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In general, I hold pretty fast to a few steady and consistent rules of thumb. One such rule has to do with sticking to your strengths, at least when you’re out in public view. Another fairly reliable and ironic adage is that there is an exception or two to every rule.

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It was shaping up to be a good spring day. The snow was pretty much gone, and the mud was drying up. It was one of the first days of the year that dared me to attack it without the aid of muck boots or snow packs on my feet.

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It was a rarity, but I was actually on schedule – not ahead of schedule but on schedule nonetheless. Somehow, I wasn’t running late. The morning feeding was done, the weather was cooperating, and there was a chance I’d make it to the sale yard in time for lunch before the bull sale.

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 At sunrise, just a couple of days after Groundhog Day, I heard a comfortably familiar yet startling sound. Just outside the back door, 20 feet up in the bare poplar tree, two or three dozen blackbirds were chirping away as if they were welcoming May Day to the first week of February.

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