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5/4/2005

Leaves of Grass

You may have noticed that I often refer to green grass in one way or another. I realized that it might sound redundant to be continually referring to green grass as though that reflected my own personal attitude of well-being. On further reflection I also realized that it is “grass” that defines who I am.  
 
I was raised in the cattle business. I live each year on the whims of Mother Nature and the success or failure of grass and its production. Ranchers are, after all, merely “grass farmers”. The prairie is my factory. It is a renewable natural resource that requires management to be productive. I cannot afford to abuse that resource. To do so would endanger my future.  
 
Grassland ecology is really not all that complicated. As the grass grows it concentrates reserves of energy in the roots. Taking a certain amount, say half, of the annual growth is acceptable and actually good for the reproductivity of the plant. The prairies evolved from just such grazing by the buffalo, antelope, and elk. Prairie fires contributed to the overall health of the prairie by removing woody growth and invigorating fire-loving grasses. The key to healthy grassland is allowing leaves to produce enough energy to store into the roots. Overgrazed grass means stunted, unhealthy roots. Years following a continued season of overgrazing often show significant reduction in leaf production. The prairie suffers until it is rested enough to regain vigor in its roots.  
 
The cattle culture is one that has grown from the “roots”, so to speak, of the grass that feeds it. I am a product of that culture. It influences me in subtle ways that I rarely even notice. I gage so much of what I do according to the grass and the elements that affect it.  
 
When I am out in the pastures the music of the land soothes my soul. Birds singing and soaring overhead direct the symphony as the wind filters through the leaves. A nearby cottonwood tree sings a chorus of praise to the prairie. There is nothing quite like each masterpiece that is performed from dusk to dawn and through the night to another day.  
 
You may have noticed that I often refer to green grass…  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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