Through Smoke, You Came Through
Through smoke, dust, heat, and flames on the ridge in the distance not too far; you showed your friendship strong. You were not to be deterred to lend a helping hand horseback, trailing cattle away from harm in a scene that seemed so wrong.
In a world that seems to have gone awry, you never questioned why. Why you should care? You are our neighbors, our ranch crew, our friends, our community. We’d go as far to call you our heroes, our saviors this long summer if we dare. You joined the ranks of the first responders in our eyes. Cowboy first responders riding in to save the day.
Horseback brigade conquering three weeks of work in three days. Never letting worry of the flames drawing nearer cloud your will to get the job done. Gathering the cows, the calves, the dogies, the bulls not ready to come down. Cattle not understanding the urgency the horizon held. Yet feeling something was quite different this year. The air was heavy, grass drier, water more sparse. Still it wasn’t yet time to leave the sweet mountain grasses to come down to their winter home.
Helpers, you returned again another day looking for strays, riding through timber and rock, towards the horizon with smoke thick and flames high. You didn’t weaken through a sky of brown, dust and smoke making it hard for a breath to draw. Your faces, your hats, your cowboy gear and tack covered with ash and dust at days end. Your eyes tired, body sore, but your hearts strong with a compassion for rancher and cattle alike. At times it felt like riding close to the gates of hell, but your neighbor rancher you did not fail.
The truckers never faltering, driving a difficult road in good times, stayed the course back and forth from headquarters to shipping corrals in dust and smoke in your windshield and your rearview mirror. You joked to keep the stress of the cowboys and the task at hand to a quiet roar, regaling us of tales of your miles long. The cowhand help and truckers alike kept constitution and resolve strong.
The cowboy’s hearts ached for the sickness in the calves and the mommas as well. Riding every twelve hours on the clock, roping and doctoring, respiratory the main ails and foot rots there was a few. We resolved to not lose hope when a few we could not save. Sickness finally subsiding. A snowstorm early would come. We’d made it through the fire, the summer and falls dry spell long.
We’ve started the fall works now. Doctoring, weaning and preg checkin’. The first steers shipped this week. The calves healthy, big and strong now. Our favorite time of the year. This is our harvest, the result of hard work the year long. Steers that will feed our countries families and those loved ones at home. Heifers to grow up in the herd, having babies of their own.
The ranching legacy continuing thanks to the kindness, compassion and resolve of our neighbors, our heroes strong. These memories, these times that brought together you all, will stay etched in our minds. Your gift of unwavering commitment to bring the cattle home will never be forgotten. Someday the favor we will return, lending a hand when our neighbors need lifting up as we did, through the smoke, to bring us through to the other side.
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