David Zirnhelt talks the importance of looking after your cattle’s well-being after the holidays. (File Photo)

COLUMNS: Time to reflect on what really is important

The Christmas and New Year’s holiday has passed quickly for us

The Christmas and New Year’s holiday has passed quickly for us but not so fast and busy that we didn’t have time to reflect on what is important in life.

Just before Christmas we started feeding the pregnant cows. A few weeks earlier we started to feed the growing animal- calves and future butcher animals.

Putting out feed for the cows always feels good as we know they won’t be struggling to get enough nutrition for the long winters. It is a good idea to closely observe which ones have retained body fat and which are thin.

We should gradually eliminate those that are not thrifty and keep those that are easy fleshing as they are the ones that will raise animals that are inexpensive to finish for good flavour and adequate fat to taste good.

We remember that the cost of winter feed is what can put us into an unprofitable position.

READ MORE: Two places to store water as protection against climate change

Economics aside for the moment, it does feel good to gradually introduce cows to hay each year at this time.

Cows are gentler this time of year and enjoyable to move around as we cut the bale strings which wrap the round bales.

I know some ranchers really feel they want to die owning cattle. This means they can’t let go of the need to do what they have done all their lives.

Other are happy to retire while there is time and good health to enjoy other experiences.

All of us need to have the balance in our lives that allows us to “retire” and be open to and skilled at other activities. Travel or hobbies to pursue when more time is available is a must in my view.

Cold turkey stopping of what we have devoted our lives to may be a shock to many.

I was reminded the other day by a retired rancher, that we often don’t miss having to sleep out under a tree unprepared just because we got lost or it got too late in the late day tracking cattle, just wanting to get them home.

Or as another retired rancher put it to me, when a cold snap hit, friends had told him that they had a feeding tractor at a meadow where the cattle were grazing.

However, the tractor couldn’t be started as they had forgotten to take the tiger torch (propane) to warm the oil and the generator to charge the tired battery.

The cows would be “complaining” of course. They just knew it was time to be fed.

READ MORE: What does home look like to you?

I choose this topic to reflect on the feeling we have for animals under our care. Our feelings stretch to caring for the health and happiness of the animals but also the feelings we have the gift of land we have in our care.

Careful grazing is better for the land than removing its bounty (hay) and taking the nutrients away. But when you have to, it’s good to allow the cows to place those nutrients they don’t use (excrement and urine), where they will do the most good, on land that needs fertilizing.

A healthy way of life balances the social and financial needs of the people on the land with the needs of the land itself.

That is the reflection that dominated my holiday wishes for my family, community and living creatures under our care. The happiest new year to our readers.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 creates a massive protection risk: Women’s Contact Society

So far the Women’s Contact Society in Williams Lake has not seen… Continue reading

Indigenous teen goaltender part of nationwide documentary on community hockey

Hockey 24: A Film by Canada premiered on May 24, 2020

Williams Lake barbers, stylists, customers adjust to COVID-19 protocols

Barbers, hairstylists and their clients have been adjusting to new COVID-19 protocols… Continue reading

THIS IS OUR HOMETOWN: Marty Lauren buidling generations in construction

Some of the places they built in Williams Lake were City Hall and the Twin Ice Arena.

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read