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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 other day, I was doctoring a horse that had ripped his leg up pretty good on an old piece of equipment in the corner of the horse pasture.

We’ve been treating him for a couple of weeks now. This particular buckskin gelding has had his share of misfortune and he’s got the scars to prove it.

He’s not really lame anymore, and he’s sound, but he’s going to have a couple more scars to show for his overactive curiosity.

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Several years ago, I helped coach the local high school basketball team for a few seasons. As anyone in rural America knows, hitching one’s hopes and reason for living to the success of a small town high school athletic program can sometimes be like a spring spent doctoring scouring calves. Your efforts and heart may be fully invested, but you’re most likely going to lose some.

One particular season, as high school sports are supposedly intended to do, served up a good share of life lessons.

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When it comes to cattle restraint and capture, I suppose my family is not all that different from a lot of ranching families.

My brother and I always figured the best way to doctor any critter, no matter the ailment, was to rope it. If a yearling had a burr in its tail – rope it. Bad eye, snotty nose, black hide, red hide – rope it.

My dad, on the other hand, tends to always (so it seemed to us) prefer the gentleman farmer approach – run it in the corral and into the chute. So, on average, we always use best management practices, I suppose.

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After having lived his entire life – up to that point – in the arid, rural West, my oldest son spent a couple of years in the Washington D.C. area.

He was quite an anomaly in the cities of the East Coast. While some of his roommates and acquaintances were not completely unfamiliar with the West, none of them could quite understand his addiction.

It wasn’t completely his fault. I suppose it was partly a product of the environment to which he was constantly exposed as a lad and partly due to his genetic makeup.

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During my growing up years, I wasn’t particularly fond of certain chores. I was even less fond of piano lessons.

My mom had the misguided notion that I possessed some musical talent that lay hidden somewhere in the recesses of my tone-deaf soul and that I would some day regret my apathy toward developing my talents.

My mother and I had some epic battles as she would, ever so gently, (her recollection) attempt to persuade me to walk to the torture chamber cleverly disguised as the piano teacher’s house (my recollection) to my weekly lesson.

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We use an old ’75 Ford F-250 pickup with a homemade flatbed to do most of the feeding in the winter.

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