Bogged Down: Brett Haas reveals the not-so-glamorous side of ranching

BY Jody Dahl | Wed 25 Jan, 2012

Brett Haas (below) - aka "The Kansas Cowboy" - is a regular blogger for Working Ranch Blog and a stockman on a working ranch in Kansas. Brett is no stranger to the less-than-glamorous side of ranch life, as the first in his series of blogs on Top50 proves…

"At this time of year, with most of the cattle out in winter pasture, the only events that happen are chores. Especially with the mild winter we are having (not that I am complaining), life is a tad boring on this Kansas cattle ranch. As I have said before, when you deal with critters, boring is good. It usually means all is well, and, to a good stockman, nothing is more exciting.

"However, one has to be careful not to let the winter lull dull his senses. There is a lot of routine involved in winter chores and the challenge is to stay alert day in and day out even though nothing really changes. If you don't pay attention, life can sneak up on you. Take a few weeks back, for example…

"It was a Monday alright. Although Mondays don't mean as much when you work Sunday, this one did because the boss let the family and I sneak away for the weekend to visit the wife's side of the family in Oklahoma. It was a nice break and really made Monday morning feel like Monday morning.

"Anyhow, I had no sooner than filled up my cake box that sits on the back of my office (my chore truck) than did Kirk call and say he had a cow bogged down and needed an extra hand to get her unplugged. As I've said before, we are having a dry spell here in Kansas. We have a lot of small frog ponds here on the ranch – they aren't good for much, but do provide a small watering hole in spots. That is, until you have a dry spell and they become nothing more than a mud hole. This is critical because cattle don't reason, they just do. All they know is that they are thirsty and the water is out there, so they start wading through the muck to get to it. They get their drink, but if they get in too far they are stuck."

Kirk was sure this old gal was done for when he found her. As you can see, her head was good and buried as well as the rest of her. Fortunately though, on account of his diligence, he found her in time.

"So Kirk calls and asks for help, but by the time I get there he's got the old gal on solid ground, although, as you can tell from the picture, she took most of the muck back with her as a souvenir that we were hoping would remind the rest of the herd to stay clear. Just before lunch, I went back to check to make sure everyone else took her advice. They hadn't. No one was stuck – yet – so I played the part of a good husbandman, put dinner on hold, built an electric fence in an adjacent pasture to provide some space between bulls that are out this time of year, and moved 'em out of danger to a bigger and safer pond to drink from.

"When I was growing up there used to be this church janitor of ours named Gale. I remember every Sunday, every pancake supper, every potluck or any other church function, Gale was the first one there to get things ready and also the last one to leave, to make sure everything was picked up and clean. In the world's eyes, this may not seem like a very exciting or important job. However, as I have grown up, I have discovered that what truly makes the world go 'round (other than the coriolis effect) are folks like Gale, who, like gears in a clock, work steady and consistent behind the scenes doing the "little things" and who, for the most part, go unnoticed. But without them, time itself would get bogged down."

Check back to Top50Ranches next month for Brett’s next blog!

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TAGS: brett haas, the kansas cowboy, kansas dude ranches, working ranch vacations, kansas working ranches, working ranch magazine, top50 ranches

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