The Best/Worst of Times

2023 was the worst of times; it was the best of times (Charles Dickens).

Late February brought us unprecedented snow and drifts. At one time in early March we were “snowed in” for 9 days straight.

June brought us record first crop hay yields. Never had 3 ton/acre yields over all our fields.

The March cold killed untold number of new born calves—we even had a local cowboy poet compose a ballad about our misfortune, and a friend of his made a western song about it.

In November, we were honored with the Aldo Leopold award, prize money, and a video about our two decades of conservation work.

My 91-year old mother died. A day later, my grandson Peregrine Rex Mitchell was born on my birthday. How could I mourn? Still I miss her. In January, I gave the best talks ever in my church calling as a HC; and I was released a week later.

Another grandson, Bobby, has been in Primary Children’s Hospital for over a year with two heart operations and a VAD heart while he is waiting for a transplant. He’s been getting stronger and happier and showed us the trick he and the nurse have cooked up for the doctor—rolling his eyes back, sticking out his tongue, and faking a seizure—and giving us laughter in a sterile environment.

June brought us record first crop hay yields.

Snowfall in the watershed was 320% of normal. Our fields produced over a thousand 1300-lb bales—We’ve never had so much hay, and I never had so much work! The calf price was good; almost great if we had sold in September. The range recovered from the drought and we have back-up pastures.

Occasionally a customer says to us, “Thank you for the hard work and care in raising the cattle.” This year a marking man showed up and said he wanted to help. Those times almost balance out the lonely days hauling water, tilling ground, building fence, mowing, raking, baling, and hauling the hay.

And we close out another year fat and happy, which brings problems of its own.

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