Thursday, April 8, 2010

Earning Your Salt

I'm sure you've heard the saying more than once. Once upon a time, when it was not the abundant resource it is today, the Roman legions used to be paid in salt, hence the saying "earn your salt." Aside from being an excuse for a history lesson, it's also a favorite of my trainer's ("earn your salt," "worth your salt," "if you've got any salt"...). And Saturday, we definitely earned our share.

My trainer picked up about thirty head of new longhorns last week. We spent all day doctoring on about sixty head -- shots, wormer, antibiotics to those who needed and, in some cases, cutting horns. On days like that, I really start to feel like a ranch hand. It's a thrill, however, when we can all work together smoothly to get such a large task done without any hitches, and keep everyone -- cattle, horses and humans -- safe and relatively calm.

The days when we doctor are some of the hardest at the ranch for me. Not because of the physical work, which is hard but enjoyable, but because it forces me to balance my own beliefs and ethics with what's necessary on a ranch. Sometimes it's a razor edge. However, I can say that my trainer and those that work with us treat the animals' welfare as a top priority. He has a lot of respect for his cattle. Still, it isn't always easy. I can't imagine the strength of character of a person who can watch the birth of an animal, raise it with care and respect, and sell it for slaughter, or even slaughter it themselves. I'm not sure that, at this point, it's something I could do.

On a lighter side, after the work was finished I was able to take Kachina for a walk and do a little bonding. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the grass is tall and green. Luckily, I had my phone on me so I was able to snap a few shots.

Kachina looks perfectly content munching on the grass, watching the cows we'd just spent the day doctoring on as they relaxed in the pasture: