Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 3: A Different Perspective

It’s funny how much you can learn simply by trying something new. Like how not to cut your finger open while playing amateur plumber (oops) ;)

As most of you know I grew up in Northern Virginia. I was always surrounded by plenty of grass, plenty of hay, and plenty of pasture space for horses and cattle. Foolishly I just figured that was the way it was everywhere.

I always expected pastures to be shoulder-high and the cattle to be fat and happy. 

Moving to Wyoming definitely cut that foolishness right out of me. I was introduced to irrigation (unheard of in my lushly green, often rainy and humid home…except when the grass turns brown cuz of those scorching summers of course), the concerns of how to feed cattle through the winter when enough hay wasn’t put up due to drought, how many animals one area could possibly support due to limited grass and water, and so many other concerns.

Drought? I’m not sure in my first 18 years I had ever heard that nasty word uttered except in passing. It was never discussed daily or in a voice made weary by constant tough choices in a brutal land.

Not enough hay? Psssh, surely there is always enough hay right? I mean it’s common to see miles of pasture that hasn’t been grazed down at all throughout the spring, summer and fall. Everybody else must be the same right?


When I would go home I would find myself upset by the seemingly lackadaisical manner that farmers treated their pasture and hay with.

Dave visited me in Virginia one summer and while driving the back roads I thought he was going to cry at one point. The sight of huge pastures that were shoulder-high in grass and weeds and not a steer or cow in sight seemed like such a huge waste of good land and a terrible shame to boot.

Sorry for the terrible picture but you get the idea!
Have you ever seen fields with hay bales in them? They look so wonderful don’t they? But when the bales are not gathered promptly and stored correctly, the sight becomes depressing. Hay is always in high demand in the West, especially in places like Texas where a significant amount of rain hasn’t fallen in years and the drought there looks like it may never end. Once you have witnessed the scramble to find hay in a 500 mile + radius because otherwise you won’t make it through the extra-long winter, the sight of rotting hay bales in the field will break your heart.

One of my best friends from Wyoming came to visit me in July of this year and similar to Dave I thought she would self-implode when confronted with bales left to rot in fields. I pass this field 2x a day every day and these bales have not moved since July…what a shame.

Unless you have experienced the hardship of not having enough grass or hay to feed your animals then the tragedy of the choice to leave bales rotting in a field may not sink in. I hope someday to see hay sent West (that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg) instead of being left to rot in fields.

But I wouldn’t have thought about that if I hadn’t witnessed it firsthand…so the moral of this story is that a different perspective can never hurt.

What are some misconceptions you have had and later realized were completely wrong?

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