If These Fences Could Talk…
This time of year checking fences becomes a priority – to find the damage done by winter weather and get pastures ready to house cows and their calves for the summer. For me fixing fence is a great substitute for meditation or therapy. There is something relaxing and freeing about this chore, alone on the prairie with just your thoughts and the wind.
Sometimes when an old rusted piece of wire falls apart in my hand, I can’t help but wonder who put that piece of wire there when it was shiny and new. What have these fences seen? What stories would they tell?
Would they speak first of the weather they have endured? They could tell tales of high waters that threatened their strongholds. The winter storm of ‘88 that brought snow and terrible winds, burying them for months. The devastating twisters that left them in ruins and the simple, beautiful days full of wildflowers and wildlife.
Would they recall the skilled hands that constructed them? The young, hopeful farmer spending hours planting posts and stringing wire, determined to see his dreams come true, evident in the sweat on his brow. The seasoned expert passing on his techniques to his eager granddaughter, how to skillfully splice a hole and how to get a tight wire without pinching a finger in the stretcher. The new father taking out his frustrations with the declining cattle market on numerous staples in wooden posts.
Would they reminisce of the new life they witness each spring? Young calves frolicking among the alfalfa shoots, testing the limits of their new-found freedom. New baby meadowlarks on their maiden voyage, perched on the strong wires practicing their songs. The young ranch family looking over their newly purchased pasture, visions of the future apparent in their proud smiles. The new deer fawn dozing near a corner post while mom keeps a watchful eye.
Would they speak of the heartache they have seen? Standing silently by, watching the prize bull take his final old age breath. Offering a project for the new ranch wife, giving her time to work through her worries, wondering if she made the right decision. Witnessing the fall of their fellow neighbor as the relentless wildfire consumes and moves on unforgiving. Seeing the last resort wheat crop slowly wither and die, needing moisture that never came.
No two stretches of fence are the same. Some are straight and true, some a mish-mash of posts and wire, some in desperate need of care and attention, some separate grassland from mountain range, some separate sheep from cattle. But they all share one thing- their permanence. They have watched generations come and go, watched good times and hard times, watched success, desperation and defeat, seen changes in technology and changes in season.
If these fences could talk, imagine what we could learn!
Abby is a third generation farmer and rancher, and works alongside her parents on their family operation in Central Montana. They raise Black Angus x Hereford cattle as well as small grain crops and alfalfa. She is a University of Montana graduate with a BS Sociology and MBA, as well as UM Dance Team alumni. She is passionate about seeing agriculture thrive, educating people about where their food comes from, and what it takes to produce it. She loves the country life. She fills her free time teaching fitness classes, working from home in marketing, researching new endeavors for their ranch, exploring a photography hobby, volunteering her time to encourage entrepreneurial growth in their community, and just about any activity that allows her to be outdoors.
You can follow Abby:
Facebook as Abby Majerus
Instagram as @montanaabby.