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Paul Marchant

Paul Marchant is an active rancher who tells stories as though we're all "sittin' horseback and ridin' drag" together. His Irons in the Fire articles both entertain and spur thought about personal values and goals.

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I opened one eye and rolled my head to one side so I could get a glimpse of the bright red digital numbers silently screaming at me from the clock on the nightstand. 2:37 a.m., it read. Somehow, I’ve never needed an alarm to prod me from my intermittent periods of fitful slumber during calving season.

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As weekly Tuesday auctions go, it was pretty typical. I arrived at about quarter after 1. I was there in search of a few yearlings to finish out a pen, but they were still going through the last of the killer cows and Holsteins.

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Tag number 549. I made a mental note of the number and wrote it on the back of my hand when I made it back to the pickup and loaded the horse and dogs. It was mid-December.

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I was making my obligatory social media run-through a few days ago. As I scrolled down through the Facebook news feed, I came across a post from a friend of mine in southwestern Montana. One of her favorite old horses had moved on to the other side – not just the other side of the creek or the other side of the fence but the final “other side” of that veil that’s so thin yet so impenetrable.

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A couple of years ago, we were anticipating a rather bland Christmas. I believe it was the first year after the youngest of the kids had left the house after his graduation from high school, so I guess that officially made my wife and me empty nesters.

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I’m not a social media genius, but ever since my kids set up a Facebook account for me nine or 10 years ago, I dabble regularly in the medium. I now have Instagram and Twitter accounts to accompany my profile in Mr. Zuckerberg’s kingdom.

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