You know what they say, "when fall comes a knockin', winter is hiding around the corner."
There has been a real change in the weather in the last week or so.
It’s not surprising. It's that time of year in the northern range. This time of year, I don’t need a calendar to know winter is coming, I always notice a change in the light in the early part of August when the angle of the sun starts to change, and it heads south. Although the days may still get plenty warm, the mornings and the endings start to get that chilled fall feel that has you hunting for a jacket or a vest for morning chores. And then, not soon after that, you realize that days are starting to get a little shorter. You know that winter is not that far off, and you start to make mental lists of all the things you need to do before the snow flies.
It’s the same every year. Are my shelters in good order? How is my winter pasture? Do I have enough hay, and how much cow feed do I need? And the list goes on. It may be the same every year, but the answers vary. It depends on what kind of summer you’ve had, really. Did you get enough rain at the right time? Did the hay get put up right? What's the cost of green feed these days, and how's the cattle market? All of these and more.
It’s the same ritual we go through every year, one called “getting ready for the winter.”
It seems that you no sooner fly through spring, and summer is in the rearview, and you brace and start preparing for the winter months.
With this in mind, the lifestyle all year long is different in the northern range compared to someone who lives in a much warmer climate in the south.
When I was growing up, we always started our colts in the spring or early summer, so you had all the summer to get them going well. It wasn’t until the last decade, or so that indoor arenas became common, and before those, all your riding was outside. Keeping in mind that if you were in a country where you got a lot of snow, and it got darn cold in the winter, you didn't ride any more than you had to.
Cowboys tended to find indoor work. Like braiding rawhide or leather work to keep them occupied in the cold months. Before our indoor arena was built, I kept busy in the best cowboy style that I could. I braided rawhide and made honda’s, worked on bronze sculptures, and watercolour paintings and read many, many books back in those days.
Those winters, before the upsurge of indoor arenas, weren’t just long, they also left the northern folk at a disadvantage. Our southern brothers and sisters could practice their skills horseback year round, while we had to jam most of ours into the short spring and summer months.
It used to be that all the top ropers came from down south, where they had the climate to practice year-round, but now I’m proud to say that we have world champions coming from up north. So with the advent of both private and public riding arenas, we don't need to turn our horses out for the winter like we used to. We can keep upping our horsemanship year-round and continue to advance our and our horse's skills.
So, even though we may spend the greater part of our short fall getting ready for winter, we don't have to hang up our saddles for a good half of the year anymore. And the real lucky Northerns get to load their horses up and go down south for the winter.
And if you want something to keep you occupied in cowboy style during the cold months, you can join us inside the Cowboy Campus Club, where we upload new videos multiple times a month.
Oh, shoot, I just remembered another thing I have to get done before snow flies. Catch you in the next letter!
- Keith J Stewart
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