But I truly feel a deep indebtedness for your thoughts & well wishes.
We have NOT lost our home or land...yet, and truly hope that doesn't happen!
We ARE survivors! We've been to Hell and back many times throughout our years together and we've always come back tougher, standing on firmer ground.
Of course we are older each time and strength can diminish with age ;(
But for strength, we have faith & we have each other...
Here's some pieces to the puzzle of Our Life that are NOT in "Our Life" page..
We have a very small mortgage payment, thanks to our sale in AZ at just the 'right' time!
- Vehicle insurance (required)
- Bare Bones medical insurance
What could we cut out?
- TV Dish Satellite
- Wild Blue Internet
- Medical insurance ???
~ ~ ~
Neither Cowboy or I were "born into" the agricultural world.
Nor were we "born into" money.
We have shared a mutual vision, a dream and a passion for the Pioneering spirit & lifestyle.
- We have lived in the rugged N. Central Cascades running a pack outfit.
- We have worked for and on ranches.
- Cowboy (w/ Zig & Zag -our original Border Collies) managed the "backside" of the Okanogan Livestock Sales Yard.
- Cowboy managed a feedlot in Buckeye, AZ.
- Cowboy has been a certified Farrier for 25+ years.
- Cowboy has started colts for 25+ years.
- Cowboy has 'day worked' for ranchers every chance he's had.
- Cowboy worked & lived on dairies growing up; loaded and unloaded semi's of hay.
- We both even worked for an animal pharmaceutical company in Toppenish until they went bankrupt.
- We have bought, built, remodeled & sold places where we maintained our Pioneer spirit & Ag lifestyle.
- We have been sued...and lost...because some jerk didn't like driving by our covered arena! (They happened to have had more money than us, to keep the battle going!)
Our lives have been completely encompassed in the agricultural world. Agricultural lives means work! It requires a passion, dedication and fortitude. We thrived in our lives! The only time in all these years that Cowboy 'stayed home' from work was when he broke his back on the ranch in MT. and after having a heat stroke in AZ. Other broken bones or illnesses never stood in our way from a days work!
When we moved here, we were given the opportunity to fulfill our dream of having cattle. A rancher from the west side of the State was being "squeezed out". Cowboy had always been like a son to John. Keith had worked for him years ago and we've stayed close friends. None of John's sons or grandsons were interested in the cattle business to pass it on to, and being in his late 70's , wanting to semi-retire, he made us an offer we could not pass up. With purebred Shorthorn stock, he made it possible for us to have a jump start into our lifelong dream.
We moved into this community of longtime farmers and ranchers. The closest "city" is 35 miles away with a population of 2,800. Just our kind of home!
We don't own enough land to support a herd so we leased summer ranges, then winter fed, calved in Feb/March on the home grounds to make it work.
This community has quickly continued to shrink in population. Yet there happens to be a large feedlot (somehow connected to Agri-Beef) that consumes all the lands that come available or the farmer's families turn theirs over into CRP (not grazeable).
A year ago this month, just as Cowboy was headed out the drive to pay for our winter feed, I made him sit down to my black and white figures on paper.
(He was living with blinders on, desperate to bring our dreams to fruition).
Leased ground was becoming less available & what was left to lease, was becoming too costly...because of the feedlot!
Hay prices were soaring, fuel was creeping higher...it was NOT possible to break even with these conditions, let alone build the herd numbers up!
I insisted we sell out. He had to agree. We did, however, keep two back.
(Oh how I miss the calving time! That was always my favorite time of year!)
Cowboy proceeded out of the drive, he paid for the winter feed we needed for horses.
NOT cattle. It just was not in the cards for us.
Since coming back to Washington, he has "day worked" for ranchers and even the feedlot. But starting colts was to be our mainstay. Over the years, Cowboy has built a reputation and earned great respect from his clientele...80% of the colts he starts are for ranchers from 3 states. He's been upfront, honest & fair to them. He has not been greedy by taking in more horses than we needed to pay our bills; nor to jeopardize the quality of his work. He has not charged the ranchers the higher prices that others charge; and he has given them back horses that are safe, dependable and can get the job done that's expected of these animals.
..... AND THEN .....
On October 7th, Cowboy headed north to the Okanogan country again.
The purpose was three-fold.
1) to return 2 colts to a rancher that he had started.
2) to GIVE away one of our horses, to a 73 year old rancher who's 27 year old horse was failing.
3) to help some friends gather cattle off of their summer ranges for the week.
That morning before he left, 3 other horses he had started were picked up by their owners. The plan was that upon Cowboy's return that following week, (which is last week now) more horses would be arriving as had been scheduled throughout the winter.
The economy was taking a nose-dive fast and hard!
Two hours after he headed north, the phone began to ring.... "I'm sorry, but we can't afford..." ~~...."..maybe later, if things get better".... etc. etc. By the end of that week, all of his scheduled horses for the winter months had cancelled.
Do you remember that post "T'Was a S.A.D. Saturday" ?
We had managed to get all of our winter feed in here that week for the horses scheduled throughout the winter. Paid for.
The only horse that will remain here now, is that stallion, Bro, whose owner is in Hawaii.
He will leave this next Spring...if we hang on that long.
Since Cowboy's return from the North country, we have been doing survival maneuvers....
What? you might be asking...
We had to make the fateful decision, that any critter that did not 'pay' for itself, but instead, costs us money.. must leave!
- GAVE away 2 Border Collies (both less than 2 yr old, they will now have 'jobs')
- GAVE the goats away (no purpose having them since there's no dogs to train )
- GAVE away 2 more horses, one more yet to go (that'll make 4 GIVEN away)
- GAVE the chickens away (saves us winter feed and electricity for heat & light)
- The 2 remaining cows? no decision yet...
It has been a strange week, a hard transition,
and leaving us with a very sad, emptiness in our hearts, our lives!
Everything has happened so fast! We are still numb..but we WILL find our way.