COLUMNS: A ranch holiday

Ranch musing, a weekly column by David Zirnhelt

COLUMNS: A ranch holiday

In years gone by, the day I write this, the 27th of December, used to be the day we prepared to have our open house which consisted of horse drawn sleigh rides and sledding down the mountain logging road which accessed our woodlot.

Leading up to this day usually meant a day or two of rebuilding the big hay sleds the horses would pull.

Then the big day and many people would gather to enjoy a ski and a sleigh ride.

Company would come and go, some staying for the evening.

It was a tradition we broke or paused for a few years several years back.

I still think of the camaraderie of keeping old traditions alive.

However, things change with the times. The work was worth the effort, as we enjoyed so many friends and neighbours all at once.

READ MORE: Two ranchers of considerable stature

That is what the secular part of the Christmas holiday is to us: peaceful family and community time together.

Now without that tradition in the form of a significant event, there is a different peacefulness that occurs when we have two or three more days without the extra work of feeding horses, cleaning the barns, and harness and making repairs, slashing roadside brush for safety of those being towed behind the sleighs on various devices.

We all have some animals to feed if we are ranching.

Even if the major herd of mother cows is still on pasture, we probably have young male and female animals to feed: calves we keep, replacement “to be” mother cows, and probably horses we may keep in condition to be used.

This year we started the grandchildren on learning to look after an animal each for building an education fund for themselves.

Learning responsibility to other living creatures is a good thing.

Our family maintains a skating rink on an oxbow.

We have endless skiing opportunities and hiking to that special big fir tree up one creek or another.

Taking time to slow down and reduce the workload is a hallmark of the season.

READ MORE: Fence posts the silver bullet to prevent overgrazing and enhancing soil health

It is time to down tools and go into maintenance mode at least for a few days.

Keeping the essentials to a minimum is made possible by our technology (tractors instead of horse drawn sleighs) for feeding our herds.

So in the time we have just recaptured we can even read or reach out to people we care about and do some recreational exercise: hike, ski, skate.

Time just to be, to think, and to feel like the fortunate people we are is what makes us human.

And if we reflect on our humanity, there is undoubtedly that spiritual feeling that we share with people the world over that can be kindled.

This spirituality has been with us since the dawn of mankind.

Downing the tools of fighting and reaching a hand to neighbours and the vast population of citizens of the world might just be a way to end this year and begin the new one.

The best to you all.

Columnist David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake.

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.