From Tibet, With Love

Out in the western part of America, lots of ranch stories include memories of what is known as “gathering”. In the fall, riders scour the mountain tops, bringing the cattle home for the winter. Always the contrarian, (and being a seasonal grazier), my gathering occurs in late winter and early spring, as I prowl the local auction barns, looking for animals that have a good potential to gain value on grass. And although I primarily buy adult cows, I might bring home just about anything you can imagine: 900 pound cutter bulls, feeder calves, future herd sires, and the occasional llama or goat too. Yesterday I very nearly bought a horse. Good Lord! When I get those cattle home, I usually let them settle down for a bit, get a belly full of hay and relax. On processing day, each animal gets a laundry list of health and nutrition treatments, including a new identity. Old ear tags are zipped out with a slick little de-tagger tool and new tags inserted into the existing ear holes.   Turns out, nearly every animal I buy has some sort of ear tag, but none of them ever seem to match my system of identification. And so, those old tags get tossed into a bucket, where they accumulate during the gathering season. Early in the gathering season I take that bucket full of tags home and clean them up, sort them and put them back in service. This way, I only rarely have to

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