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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.


Earlier this fall, we had an old cow in the corral that I’d been doctoring and needed to be turned back out. I’d been planning to load her in the trailer and haul her four miles to the lower gate of the forest allotment and turn her out.

My daughter was home from college over a long weekend. So, I changed my plans and asked her if she wanted to catch the horses and go for a ride and take the old girl up on the mountain.

Although her favorite dun horse was lame, she somewhat reluctantly agreed that she could put up with the little roan and her father for a couple of hours.

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I was a child of the ’70s and ’80s and, as such, was subject to the weird fashion trends of the time. I’ve never been too keen on what goes on in the real fashion world, although I did take note when Lady Gaga made headlines with her dress made of steaks.

I don’t believe she’ll be the next Sam Elliot or Matthew McConaughey as the voice of beef, but you know what they say about publicity. As long as they spelled beef right, I’m OK with it.

My lack of genuine fashion sense notwithstanding, I’ve always tried to stay within a couple of years of the latest cowboy and ranch fashion trends.

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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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