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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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Not long after I got out of college, I worked on an outfit whose owner loved good horses. More than the horses, though, he loved to trade horses. To that end, there was never a shortage of colts, knotheads and green horses to ride. I started a couple of geldings, but I really took a shine to a particular little sorrel mare.

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Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to judge a lot of junior livestock shows at county fairs. I’m tempted to replace the word “opportunity” with the word “pleasure.” But while in the context of livestock judging the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, neither do they always fit happily hand in hand.

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It was just past 2 p.m. It was hot and dusty as they pushed the tail-end of the straggler calves and leppies out of the last draw and up to the little pond that brought welcome and cool relief to trail-weary cows and worn-out horses.

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As I snaked around the last bend in the rough, washboard road before the wide spot at the base of the hill where I intended to pull over to unload my horse, I glanced in the mirror and noticed the swinging trailer gate. I didn’t take this as a good omen to start my day.

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Punctuality is a highly prized trait in my world. The reason for its value is because of its rarity. It’s not that I don’t have good intentions, of course. I hate being late. But I’ve laid far too many bricks on the good intentions pathway. If it’s true about where that pathway leads, then I’m well on my way to a warmer climate.

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Several years ago, we decided to change things up a little bit on our place. My dad was getting older, the kids were starting to leave home for college, and I was spending more time away from home. It seemed like the ideal time to cut back on the number of cows we were running to ease the stress, headaches and burdens that accompany calving time.

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