Hello, It’s been a long time since we had a rain. A real rain. One that sat in and rained for three or four days. Just a drizzle. Where you sat at the coffee table and looked out the window at the grass growing. Or you swept and cleaned the shop and the tack room because it was too wet to even get out to the road. Or you had the kids go to the shop and straighten nails. A rain where you could take a spade and go down to the horse pens and dig little ditches that drained out the corner of the pen and found its way to the creek.
Those kind of days gave you a chance to change the oil on the pickup, oil your saddle up, or go to town and pay bills. The kind of days where you left your glasses in the house because they would get wet right away and you couldn’t see. And you figured if you couldn’t see, just as well not have them on.
Maybe the second day you saddle up a horse, dig through the closet and find that old yellow slicker and that old felt hat that wasn’t much good anyway, slip them on, and get ready to trot down to the river and ride through the cows. Knowing that after that hat got soaked good, it would drip down your back. And it felt good.
You might sit and have a cigarette while that saddle horse eats a bait of grain before you go. That was before you quit smoking. Or you might grab a chew before you got on. As you step on you hope that horse remembers that the slicker is not a lion jumping on his back and you hope the wind doesn’t come up and whip that yellow monster around until you’ve trotted a couple miles.
You trot out of the yard and enjoy the splashing of that horses hooves as you get out of the yard and start down the hill to Deep Creek. The water is starting to run on the creek and it hasn’t done that for a long time! Your horse snorts a little and then steps gingerly into the stream, not sure how deep it is.
As you climb the hill at a trot, both you and Old Zip start to relax. And you think to yourself, “this is why I ranch”.
It’s been awhile since we had a rain like that. And people find things to blame. Some blame the cloud seeders. Some blame the wind turbines. Some blame the Democrats. Some blame the Republicans. Some blame the sinners. Some blame climate change.
An old boy told me one time that “Ain’t much use in blaming someone for a big dry. You just got to ‘cept that sometimes it don’t rain!”
The rain will come. It always has.
A rancher who’s been through a lot of these told me one time that, “the most money I ever made in my life was sitting in the house watching it rain”.
Dang, all these memories brought up another one. Used to be when we were caking cows there was a disc jockey who closed with the same phrase every day. And it would be about the time we finished feeding and started for home.
“Put the coffee on mama, Daddy’s coming home”.
Dean Meyer is an area rancher and former North Dakota State Senator. His ‘Hat Tips’ column can be found in papers all across the state.