By the time this magazine hits your mailbox, the fresh spring steers will be halfway broken in and the grass in the back pasture will be up to the middle of my calves. Winter will (hopefully) be a distant memory by the time you turn these pages.
But right now, as we’re putting this issue together, I’m sitting by my pellet stove watching an inland hurricane wreak havoc on our livestock. The winds are howling at 75 miles per hour, it rained for 10 hours before the ice and then the snow started, and we’ve got three corriente cows ready to calve any minute and another 23 heifers who hopefully can hang on another month.
My best mare had a pretty small colt last week, and they’re huddled under a shed eating alfalfa. Two other mares are due next month, but they’re first-time mamas, so we’re saying a prayer they hold on tight. The fragile old horses who’ve earned their keep are locked in stalls in the barn, while some of our good ones are in the runs off the barn. The rest of the herd (have I ever mentioned I’ve got too many horses?) are under sheds in their pastures, doing their best to stick together in this mess.
In this weather, sometimes it feels impossible to remember why the heck we do this. Why we pay to feed steers we can’t rope all winter and green horses we don’t have time to ride. Why we have the mares and the colts and the old pony for our daughter and why we’re keeping my 26-year-old, ex-barrel horse around. Really, it doesn’t make a bit of sense, especially when I’m in our home office studying our Quickbooks files when my father-in-law walks through the basement door from checking cows, for the third time today, with his beard covered in frost and his coveralls frozen from the knee down.
I don’t have any explanation, really, why we do this. But I’ve met enough of our readers to know we’re not alone. To know that the pursuit of great horse flesh binds us together, that the love for our cattle keeps us breaking ice and bundling up. It’s the dream—a cowboy’s version of the American dream—that keeps this industry spinning.
Whether you’re Coleman Proctor (page 66) and Ryan Motes (page 70) or Justin McMillion and William Evans (page 108), you’re living it. Now here’s to spring.