Load’em up and bring those “doggies” home
The fall of the year represents changing times. Colors change, the air
becomes crisp, and the growing season comes to a close. It is time to
The grain harvest is an early indicator that the time to move from field
to bin is here, but the real clincher is the movement of calves. Last
week, the Dickinson Research Extension Center started bringing home the
calves for weaning and sorting. In the end, cows go one way and calves
This activity is motivated by good management principles, which are
driven by survival. Soon the water will freeze and any day, the color of
white could shut things down. It is time to haul cows and calves.
The image of pickups and trailers moving up and down the highways
becomes common. A few brief discussions are held to reminisce about the
days when all the cattle were herded home, but those mainly are
Granted, there are many cattle still herded, but time, labor and the
simple availability of efficient transportation make the shift to
hauling fairly easy. At 10 miles a day, herding cattle takes time. With
many cattle today some 50 to 100 miles from the home ranch, herding
cattle just isn’t practical.
When hauling, one soon learns to appreciate the good roads in rural
The North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service lists statistics
indicative of how rural North Dakota is. With a population of 633,837,
the most recent census numbers note that about 44 percent of the
population still is considered rural. On average, there are 9.2 people
per square mile with access to towns by using 106,609 miles of road.
There are 30,619 farms in North Dakota with an average size of 1,283
acres. Of the 44,144,595 acres that make up North Dakota, 39,294,879
acres are used for farming.
That is what being rural is. The network of rural roads becomes crucial
to the daily lifestyle of those who live and make their living in the
country, especially as the calves are hauled.
Even with that backdrop of rural America, the old days are getting
further and further from our thoughts, especially our younger side. The
world today is different.
Think about all those youth who are at home, in school, at a university
or just starting out in the work force. What is their world?
The majority of youth are not connected to a rural world. The remnants
of being rural are disappearing quickly. Road maintenance and the
patience of the county road grader are not witnessed by many. The
dilemma of rural versus urban is very real.
The scenes are changing, at least from where we sit. The answers often
are not apparent and not always welcomed. The scenic view of herding
cattle certainly fits with the urban flare, but parking a herd of 300
cows and calves is not as easy today as it was, so we haul.
Rural versus town versus city versus metropolitan center creates some
interesting lifestyle contrasts. The further one gets from original
rural communities, people become more consumers than producers and more
energy users than providers. The potential disconnect from the world
around us and beyond is real.
As a result, if we are not careful, most of those around us like to
look, but the feel and smell are best left somewhere else. Perhaps that
is why the sights and sounds are better viewed on the big screen with
the feel and smell of popcorn outweighing the nitty-gritty impacts of a
real cattle drive.
In the meantime, load’em up, get those diesels started and bring those
little “doggies” home.