COLUMNS: Ranching and Easter go hand in hand

There are many serious topics to write about concerning life on a ranch.

There are many serious topics to write about concerning life on a ranch.  This is one of them if you are fortunate enough to have young children or grandchildren.

One daughter-in-law who was helping us look for new calves early in the morning said that it was like “looking for Easter eggs.” We were tromping through two feet of snow in a spruce swamp.

We used to calve earlier and when Easter is early or the snow stays late those can be the conditions.  The cows are warmer in the spruce swamp and it is healthier than a barn, not that we ever calve in a barn.

Last year two of the grandchildren were home on the ranch for the Easter weekend.

Since they live in town most of the time, they might even have a first hunt there then come out to grandma and grandpa’s or uncle and aunty’s for a couple more hunts.

The way this story goes, grandpa was to help the Easter bunny “lay” eggs around the house, the woodshed, the garden, the barn, the round pen, even in the orchard. No shortage of hiding places.

Now busy ranchers don’t always get to all their jobs on time. Such was the case here.

Instead of helping with a flashlight after the kids had gone to bed, grandpa got up early, or so he thought.

He scuttled outside to find hiding places for the bunny’s eggs, making sure that the hunt would be fair to the youngest child.

Unbeknownst to him the kids were already awake and amusing themselves with mischievous behavior. Their daddy had told them to stay in bed and stay quiet or there might just not be a hunt.

Now some parents valiantly try to limit children’s intake of sugar. So although real Easter egg hunts for chocolate eggs is a tradition, just like trick or treating at Halloween, the candy isn’t so good for them.

So the threat to be quiet or else is meaningful.

But stay in bed they didn’t and happened to look outside to see the Bunny’s helper, grandpa, darting about putting his hand in places that in years gone by might have held an egg or two.

“Daddy, grandpa is out there stealing our Easter Eggs” they cried, distraught and heartbroken. This was so unfair, but believable because of the threat of cancellation.

It took both their dad and grandma some time to reassure them that grandpa would never do that.  He must be just looking.

So you see, if you are a believer in something, you may just not see things for what they really are. We have had Santa Claus show up on his sleigh, bells ringing, and tell the kids he would come back when the good little children are asleep.

So once reassured and once everyone was dressed, the hunt was on. The older one, who soon might not be a believer, found most of the eggs but deferred the find for her younger brother, just to make this a fair hunt.

Grandpa had not, after all, stolen the eggs and the tradition lives on. Can you imagine what it would have been like for those kids to lose their faith in grandpa (who teaches them to drive, ride and shoot) and the Easter Bunny all in one special early morning?

Speaking of traditions. I remember our dad telling us that his father would get the four kids up to go outside to watch the sunrise on the North Dakota prairie on Easter morning. Wasn’t mother lucky, maybe to sleep in just a little?

That spectacular sunrise was the beginning of the Easter Day when Christians believe that Christ arose from the dead, for our salvation of course.

David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake in January of 2016.