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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.


I’m an admitted sports junkie. I’ve sometimes wondered about just where I could have gone in life if I’d used some of my limited brainpower to store important information regarding physics, the arts or molecular biology. Instead, I’ve expended considerable energy memorizing more “useful” data.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a fascination with all things cattle. When I was in grade school, a science fair was held each year where the fifth- and sixth-graders would choose a subject, prepare a presentation and present it to parents and faculty on a special evening.

We got to choose our subjects, but you had to be quick to get the one you wanted because there could be no duplicate projects.

I remember being quite disappointed and, frankly, a little ticked off when one of my friends, who lived on a dairy farm no less, picked beef cattle as his project when we were in fifth grade.

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Back in the early ’90s, I was running a ranch in the high desert and mountain country of central Utah. We ran a couple hundred pairs on a forest allotment on the Fishlake National Forest, east of Fillmore.

There was usually pretty good grass in the high country, but it was mean, steep, rough country. I did quite a bit of riding to keep the cattle distributed and from spending too much time in the creek bottoms.

If I needed to do a big gather and move cattle from one side of the allotment to the other, I could usually find some day help or a friend or two from town who wanted to keep his mounted sheriff’s posse horse legged up for the summer.

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Dennis runs a few yearlings and grows some hay a few miles south of town. He doesn’t claim to be a top hand, but he always likes to have a dog hanging around the place.

Several years ago, he adopted a mutt that had been dropped off, probably by some city dweller who didn’t have the guts to take care of his overpopulated personal kennel.

Dennis and the dog, which he named Andy, became quite fond of each other and were rarely seen apart. Andy even went to church every Sunday and waited by the church doors. One particular Sunday, Andy wasn’t waiting outside at the end of services.

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0113pc marchant 1The current resident dog on our outfit is a half Border Collie-half Mini Aussie cross.

I have been told, and am now inclined to believe, that they bred the brains out of Aussies when they started breeding Mini Aussies.

Newt, so named in honor of the operation (with a slight spelling alteration) he underwent before we got him, is about three parts Lassie and 97 parts Hank the cowdog.

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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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