We lost my grandfather, Reuben Carlton, in May. He was 80 and still the boss. That mischievous, tough ole workhorse was and still is the inspiration behind our ranching business. “Rube” — as he was called — was an honest, hard-working man that loved ranching and his family.

Many remember him as a rugged, old rancher that always wore his old felt hat distinctively cocked to his left side. Others remember his twinkling eyes and fantastic smile, usually appearing after getting the best of someone with a harmless practical joke.

I remember hearing someone ask him one time if he had a hobby. His response was that he didn't know what a hobby was.

Truthfully he had one hobby — flying. He used the skills learned as a WWII B-29 bomber pilot to fly over the ranch checking on cattle and water.

Granddad worked every day on the ranch, never taking a day off. He instilled a family pride, a sense of tradition and a love for the land in all of us. I feel blessed to have been able to work with him and for him. He will be missed very much.

My grandfather wisely did some estate planning that was beneficial to us, but the system is still a nightmare. The next few years will be grueling as we fight our way through the red tape that tries to squeeze the life out of our family business.

To those of you who have put off estate planning, don't wait another second. Take advantage of the current administration's mindset and plan.

Though it's a difficult and expensive task, it might be the difference between losing and keeping the land and way of life that's so dear to each of us.

Moisture And Lightning Strikes

Thankfully, our summer rains finally appeared. The drought isn't over, but it's subsided. The storms, however, have brought some bad lightning with them, which has already killed five cows and two bulls. Two of the cows were struck while crewmembers were nearby. All in all, we were lucky.

Hopefully, we'll continue to get a few inches of rain each week through the summer. The rain has made the grass jump.

The Bahia grass is growing inches over night, and our newly planted Hemarthria is knee deep. It's so nice to see the grass green and growing again.

The calves have responded to the change, gaining great and finishing out really well. We're very pleased with the calves this year. Despite the problems with weather, I really think this is excellent group of calves that has preformed beyond our highest expectations.

Hopefully, most of our hard times are behind us. As the old-time Florida Crackers say, “the only difference between a drought and a flood in Florida is six weeks.” Maybe we'll stay somewhere in the middle for a while.

Mary Anne Cruse, her brother Wes, parents and grandparents operate RuMar Inc., a large commercial cow/calf operation in South Florida. Contact her by e-mail at mccruse@msn.com.