Granny B. turns 80-years-old this month. She has been ranching for decades, squeezing dimes and nickels to buy cattle supplement, a new bull here and there and all the many, many other costs that accompany the culture of ranching. She loves her animals. She has bottle-fed many orphan calves, and many of those orphans grew up to be very large, loyal cows.
She battles cold weather during calving, stray dogs that chase and kill new calves, high feed costs and low prices at market time in the fall. She falls in love with each and every one of her cows, has names for all of them, and grieves when she has to sell them.
Her corrals are falling down, the fences all need work, and she can't quite keep up the way things need to be kept up. Her cows have been good to her, keeping her in a livlihood that is disappearing slowly. She still loves to walk through her hay fields and gather the sticks that might cause the swather problems when my brother starts haying.
Granny B., my mom, has decided that it is time to call an end to this era. Winter was unusually rough, spring flood waters severe, and her arthritis increasingly more restricting. She has sorted her cattle from my brother's, loaded them onto his truck and taken them to auction.
It was a difficult decision. She stews over the kind of treatment and the homes that her cows will go to. But no one ever said that cattle ranching was easy. It's never been a profession for the mild or the tenderhearted.
And so, Granny B. enters true retirement. Well, sort of. She has kept twenty-five head of her very favorite cows as companions and pets. After all, it is in her blood. She will always be a cattle rancher.