Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tonight I sit at my computer with a heavy heart. I got the news that a fine friend of mine passed away much to early. Keith Paulsen was a huge man with an even bigger heart. He was quick to smile, easy to forgive, always had a story and enjoyed living life. He and I worked together at EG&G's Chemical incinerator destroying the nations outdated stockpile of chemical weapons. It was a technical and dangerous job. We frequently made entry's into a highly toxic area to repair the equipment that disposed of chemicals that were made to kill people. All we had between us and death was a specialized rubber suit we were sealed into by a giant microwave. We joked that we were walking "seal-a-meals"! But I never worried about making an entry with Keith. He had my back and I had his. I trusted him completely and thought the world of him. We both moved on with our lives and careers after the burn plant. I found myself working on generators all over Utah and Nevada while Keith went to Texas in the oil fields. But we talked on the phone as often as we could and kept in touch that way. This afternoon his sweet wife called to tell me Keith had passed. I have been thinking about him and what he meant to me. I hope we all can find, no MAKE the time to spend with our friends and families. Life is much to short. As I contemplated Keith's passing, I had a moment of reflection I thought I'd share. Why is it we fall in love so completely with our hearts? Our brains don't have much to do with how we feel about the people we care deeply about. And yet, when they are gone, we try to see them, and talk to them and reach out for them using our brain. When we should just simply listen with our hearts like we did when we had them. I hope that makes sense. I miss my great friend Keith. And 52 is way to young to complete life's journey. But I know his spirit lives on! And every time I spend a sunrise in the mountains, Keith will be right there beside me. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and kids and grandkids. And I am thankful to have been his friend!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Late February brings new calves on our place. We always look forward to the new kids and the arrival of spring. Winter had a cold, snowy grip this year and warmer temps and sunny sky's are sure welcome. Our cows have wintered well and as of today we have had 5 head calve with TWO sets of twins! Pretty amazing since last summer was really dry and we had to bring our cattle home almost 2 full months earlier than we usually do. But we have kept them on good hay and supplements and have a good mineral program in place. That has kept them in great condition all winter. We also got a new heifer calf from our Artificial Insemination program! I bred a beautiful heifer i bought from Lazy H ranch here in Vernon to a fine Hereford bull from Westcliffe, Colorado that is pictured in a previous post on my blog. We crossed our fingers and hoped she would become pregnant and really hoped she would have a heifer calf! She DID!!!! Can't wait to see what she grows into and both the cow and the new calf are doing great! I feel pretty blessed and fortunate to live the lifestyle i do and on this amazing west desert. I look to the south and see "Dutch Peak" on the Sheeprock mountains which was named for my ancestors who settled in the valley where i live and just over the mountain at the ranch. I have a beautiful wife who is the best person i know. She is a wonderful mother, a caring and thoughtful neighbor, a faithful daughter of God and a top hand on any ranch. Not to mention she makes the world's best pie! My two kids are great little stock men and always willing to help us with whatever we are working on. They even turned in science projects about "Where does meat come from" and "Using EPD's to choose a new bull"! Not bad for a 1st grader and 5th grader. I couldn't be prouder! So as i think of my amazing family, those who paved the way for me and those who walk beside me now, i am sure humbled and thankful for all i have. The Good Lord has blessed me abundantly and i tip my hat to the Master! Here is a picture of our new Hereford/Angus heifer and her cow.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dodge honors agriculture

The American farmer and rancher has been under attack lately. Government taxes us literally to death and then regulate those of us left into almost oblivion. So-called environmentalists scream when we plow a field or let a cow eat grass. And some of the public seem to think their food comes from the supermarket instead of from farms and ranches. So it did my heart good to see a commercial during the Superbowl that simply said thank you! We all like to be told thanks and know we are appreciated once in awhile, regardless of what we do for a living. Dodge took an old Paul Harvey essay and put it with pictures and made a pretty neat advertisement that hardly mentions the trucks they sell. Please take a second and click on the link to the ad below. And remember that the typical family ranch has only 40 cows. They are multi-generational places that have been feeding this country and the world for decades and sometimes, century's. They are simply hard working families like mine, who love the land and the animals they raise. If you know a rancher or a farmer, take the time to tell them THANK YOU. It will mean a lot more than you know!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I have sure thought a lot about the horrible school shooting in Connecticut. My heart goes out to the victims, the families, law enforcement, medical personel and everyone involved. Some of you know i write a little cowboy poetry and i had a few minutes yesterday to put some thoughts on paper. I would like to share with you my poem i call "Senseless". Please join with our family in keeping those folks in your thoughts and prayers.


It’s a miserable, bleak, cold, desert day
And my soul is worn and shredded.

The world has gone plumb crazy lately,
And I’m afraid of where we’re headed.

Evil has always been around,
It’s not new to have tragedy strike.

But when 20 kids are shot to death,
I kinda wonder what happened to right?

My mind can’t wrap itself around
What could make a person do that?

And why those kids had to suffer,
While, I am safe, here where I’m at.

I wish’d I could’a been there, maybe
done something to stop the death.

Anything, to just try to save those kids,
They can even have my breath.

But I’m out here on the desert
And my eyes are red and wet.

My heart, it aches, my head, it hurts
And I don’t want’a feel better yet!

Cause I’m mad as hell that it happened
And fed-up with the reasons I hear,

I don’t care about guns, I care about kids
Growing up without worry or fear.

A kid shouldn’t feel anything but safe,
In their school or in their home.

But today, a parent buries their child
Because their killer was distant and alone?

I don’t know what all the answers are,
But I hope God will show us the way.

As we try to heal from the horror,
That happened just the other day.

I pray he will comfort the families.
And bless the lives that are lost.

And help us all to love more and hate less
Protect kids, regardless the cost.

Evil will only triumph, if good people
Let it exist.

Somehow we have to destroy it
And we can’t use a sword or
A fist.

We have to get God back in our lives.
We can’t do it any other way.

Alone, we will only keep failing
But with Him we can save the day.

Connecticut is a ways from this desk where I write,
But I sure feel close right now.

My thoughts and prayers are back east
And I hope that they help, somehow.

Darrell Holden
December 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

25 things kids should know

I found this list of 25 things every ranch kid should know while surfing the web and visiting with ranch folks like myself. I loved it and wanted to share it with you all. These are important things any kid needs to hear and experience and learn from. Good advice for us adults as well!

1. You have chores, because we love you. They seem tedious, but they are the building blocks for your future. Responsibility, accountability, and basic life skills begin with sweeping the floor, scrubbing the toilet, and feeding pets and livestock. We love you, we want you to find success in life. Success comes from preparation, so we give you chores.
2. Boredom is a choice. Don’t let me hear you say you are bored. Boredom is a choice, when your backyard is the whole outdoors, there are chores to be done, and books to be read. If you can’t entertain yourself with a stick and a bucket full of calf nuts, we’re doing something wrong.
3. There is magic in watching the sunrise. Early mornings are hard, we don’t rise as early and as easily as Dad. Do it anyway. The beauty you will witness with the awakening of the world is worth sleepy eyes and cold fingers.
4. A pet is more than a companion. You’re cats, dogs, calves, and ponies are more than friends and playmates. They are lessons in empathy, responsibility, love, and letting go.
5. Grow your own food. Our world is increasingly rife with poor food choices, the easiest response to unhealthy options is to grow your own food. I don’t care it’s a single tomato plant or a garden large enough to feed 10 families, cultivate an appreciation for fresh, whole food.
6. Be open to learning. In horsemanship and life, you will never know it all, never assume that you do. A humble open, attitude towards learning will lead to new skills and experiences.
7. Dress appropriately for the occasion. A cowboy’s uniform, hat, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots, evolved out of necessity. Protect yourself from the sun, wind and weather with the proper clothing. I nag and question your clothing choices, because you are precious to me.
8. There is a time and a place for bad language. Sometimes you just need to cuss; spew anger and frustration in one grand verbal barrage. Smash your thumb with your shoeing hammer/fencing pliers, massive runback at the gate, ringy heifer won’t take her calf? Yes. At the dinner table, the classroom, in front of your grandmother? No.
9. Feed your help. Neighbors, friends, or hired men? It doesn’t matter, sometimes the best way to show your gratitude for a long day of hard work is a lovingly prepared hot meal and cold drink.
10. Don’t judge, but if you do, judge them by their abilities, attitudes, actions not appearances. Buckaroo or cowboy, flat or taco, slick or rubber? In some circles these comparisons can lead to heated debates, more often than not based strongly in personal opinion, rather than rooted in truth. This is true outside of the ranching world, as well. Words have power to create divisiveness, do not use them to speak against yourself or gossip about others.
11. Stewardship. Dad and I choose to be responsible for landscapes and livestock, this lifestyle defines who we are. Sometimes that means ballgames are trumped by pasture rotations and dinner time is delayed by cesarean sections, it does not mean we love you any less. I hope you approach the world with a sense of respect and connectedness.
12. Fake it till you make it. You don’t have to be confident in everything you do, but taking a deep breath and acting like you are helps you get through it. This can be applied in the arena, the sorting alley, to horses or people, and life as a whole. Stand up straight and look the challenge in the eye, as you gain experience confidence will catch up with you.
13. That said, don’t mistake arrogance for confidence. No one likes a swaggering braggart, even if he is a competent swaggering braggart. There is honor in being unheralded, if you enjoy your work.
14. Low-stress is best. . . . . .for you and for livestock. Don’t let it defeat your spirit and energy. Don’t let it impact your livestock health.
15. The only dumb question is the unasked question. Where is the gate? Which calf? Can you help me? Ask questions, no one will think less of you. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings.
16. Always do your best. There are days when your best is better than others, recognize that. Avoid self-judgement, abuse, and regret and enjoy the process.
17. “There comes a time when you’re gonna get bucked and you’re gonna need to know what to do so you don’t get stepped on.“ -Betsy Swain, 1875 Do not let fear of pain or disappointment stand in the way of new experiences. What I regret most in my life are opportunities missed out of fear. Pain and disappointment are a part of living, learn to take them in stride and keep moving forward.
18. Be polite and kind. Enough said.
19. But, don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself.
20. Develop a sense of place. Wherever you may live, learn the names of plants, rocks, and animals, visit old homesteads (or neighborhoods) and educate yourself about Indigenous cultures. In doing so, you gain roots, a sense of belonging that will lend you stability in all that you do.
21. Break a sweat everyday. Pound a steel post or take a jog, whatever you do, break a sweat daily. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
22. Be present. If you are mindful of the moment, it is easier to catch a mistake before it happens, redirect a broncy horse before wreck, and have better relationships. It might surprise you, what you observe and what you achieve when you are fully in the moment.
23. Unplug. Go to cow camp. Leave the computer screen, TV, and cell phones behind. Watch the chipmunks and rock dogs, read a book, or share a conversation with your family.
24. Sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones. We cannot rationalize suffering and pain to animals. Sometimes the best decision is the hardest one to make, know when to let them go.
25. You do not have to maintain this lifestyle, but please appreciate it. I don’t expect you to grow up and follow in our footsteps, the long hours and low pay aren’t for everyone. Carry these early horseback mornings in your heart.