My View From The Country

As I Get Older, I Relate Better To My Old Cows

It recently dawned on me that our lives aren’t much different from that of a cow. We just typically get a little more longevity.

Every year, I decide to keep a certain cow for just another year. Despite the fact that she might be more than 12 years old, I reason that she has a great production record, she bred early and she still looks good.

It turns out to be a good decision about half the time. But there’s also the other half in which the cow goes rapidly downhill and weans a dink, or occasionally doesn’t even end up weaning a calf. I guess it all boils down to the inevitability that comes with age. 

As humans, our timeline is a little different, and the experts continue to work diligently to find ways to cheat Father Time. Still, I hit a hole with the four-wheeler the other day (I never would have hit the hole if I was horseback), and I woke up with a kink in my neck that provided me with a fairly constant reminder for a few days that I’m getting old.

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Both my dad and my father-in-law had surgeries this week – one had work done on his knee, the other his hip. As tough and active as they are, time appears to be catching up to them as well.

I never believed my grandmother when she told me as a child to just wait, and I would see what it was like to get older. Turns out she was right.

I’m about at the point where I want to wage war on getting older, because I’m not necessarily seeing the benefits that are supposed to come with old age. What happened to the wisdom, financial independence, and other benefits that are supposed to come with all this life experience? I sure don’t seem to be accumulating them at a commensurate rate that age is taking from me. 

I’ll admit that I sometimes fantasize about having the capability to hit a restart button and to go back in time. But since it doesn’t seem to be a viable option, I’m officially going on offense against getting older. I want to be riding with my grandkids when I’m 80, or will that be my great grandkids by then? I want to be dancing with my wife, and I want to be as excited about changing the world and making a difference then as I am right now. I have to admit, however, that I haven’t been dancing in quite awhile, and I tend to think I don’t have time to ride a lot of days. Perhaps what’s most discouraging is that I lack the passion that I used to have for some of these things.

I’m still young, but it is probably good that I am also realizing that I’ve probably hit, or maybe even went past, that magical halfway point in life. But I take solace in the fact that most of the world’s greatest achievements outside of the athletic realm have occurred at the age of 50 plus.

It recently dawned on me that our lives are not much different from that of a cow. We typically get a little more longevity than the bovine, but cow birth to yearling is like our development years (school). It begins with proper development and management (parenting and education). Then we go into production,and those first couple of decades are like years 2-4 with a cow. They require a little more care and there is a little higher risk of failure.

 

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Then there are years 5-9, which are like our middle years (40-65). It’s where all the investment pays off, production is at its peak, and the fallout or failure rate goes to almost zero – if shortcuts have not been taken earlier.

Then there are the 10- to 15-year-old cows, which is the equivalent of our retirement years. This is a period that can be highly productive, but things also can deteriorate quickly. Thinking ahead, I believe I aspire to be one of those 17-year-old cows that go to the mountain in the summer looking fat and healthy, but simply doesn’t make the trip back down in the fall.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Ray Bittner (not verified)
on May 24, 2013

Thanks for a great article about the cow that doesnt make it down the mountain, I loved it, and am living in the same shoes.
You always have the most catchy titles to your articles.
Keep up the good work! Hi from Manitoba Canada.
Ray.

on May 25, 2013

I think you are a wonderful person, and age will only make you better. God bless you.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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