Well I am finished with my summer in Wyoming. I really can’t begin to describe how awesome the experience was, but I can give it a try. This summer has just flown by, all of the days running together. Each day is the same, but with different things to do. The Big Horn Basin and the Cloud Peak Wilderness area is an awesome place to live. I didn’t think about how intensive management of pastures would have to be when living in a desert environment.
Irrigation is such a critical part of ranching in this region and with out it there would be no pasture production. Working irrigation for the majority of the summer to produce hay and pasture forage taught me to look at pastures in completely different way. There is so much to learning how to get water over the field quickly and figuring out how to cover the high spots and how to prevent excess runoff. The plant communities are fragile in these pastures, as they probably are in most grazing environments. Over-irrigate the pasture and you bring in water grasses and foxtail. Under-irrigate the pastures and over graze them and you kill out native grasses and bring in less productive grasses like cheat grass. The mountain pastures are such a fragile environment because of the short growing season. Grazing a pasture once only leaves enough time for regrowth sufficient to feed the wildlife and leave cover for the winter moisture. Sage brush is not of friend to pasture grazing nor trying to move cattle across the pastures. And plastic bags are not of any use with the sage brush either. (haha..learned that the hard way)
There are many things that I have to learn about cattle operations. Specifically how to attempt, learn, and accept management approaches that I am not familiar with. Just because I grew up do things one way, does not mean that is the best approach. I have known this fact, but its harder to accept than it is just to say it. But hey everyone has something to gain from different experiences.
I am not as patient teaching people things that I know about ranch as I thought I was; especially when they loose interest in learning and making their best effort. My question is how do you help someone gain and hold a strong motivation for learning about their jobs and putting forth their best effort to complete that job?
The environment in Wyoming in unique. The hills and mountains are such an amazing surrounding to work in. The lower hills are arid and lower producing. They are much like the badlands and offer little grazing. The mountains receive much more moisture and offer large amounts of grazing. The forest land is such a peaceful place to ride through. A real place of solitude. There is no other place like it when I am sitting on top of a mountain on my horse gazing over the mountain pastures. Such a solitary place cannot be found. The only thing to be heard is the rolling creek at the bottom of the canyon and the birds hanging in the trees. The rain in the mountains is an amazing sight and sound. There is nothing like standing in a shower with your soaked horse moving cattle. I think it was so hard for me to leave because I was falling in love with the mountains. But having the cattle in the mountains only takes up a small portion of the year.
The people of Hyattville are full of pride. Pride in their past and Pride in their quite lifestyles. Living an hour from the closest grocery store has its advantages. It keeps the outsiders out and the pioneers in. Its a slow way of life with each day being the same as the next. There are different things to do each and every day, but it doesn’t matter if it is the middle of the week or the beginning of the weekend, each day still has its work to be done, and little time left at night before a short rest. Its a dying way of life, but I hope it holds on a little longer for Hyattville.
When it comes down to it, I will miss Wyoming, and will have to return there for many trips during the summers, but I miss more my summers at home. There is nothing more comfortable than returning home and feeling secure. I just have to decide where that home is for me.