By: B Elfland
As I step outside my Montana home in the early morning, the wonder of early autumn in the Northern Rockies fills my senses. The air is crisp, the light is soft, young mallards strengthen their wings in flight and Canadian geese clamor in the grain fields along the river. All the animals are in their prime. Even the old barn cat has gained a pound or two and the saddle horses have grown a hint of their winter coat.
This is my favorite time of year in the Rocky Mountain West and it is the most rewarding time to be a landowner. The last cuttings of alfalfa are stacked, grain crops harvested and fall gathering begins in preparation for selling this year’s crop of calves. The results of expert land planning and good stewardship are reflected in the hay in the barn, grain in the bins and heavy fall weaning weights. Sound land management also benefits the wildlife and it is satisfying to see elk on the range and Ring-necked pheasants in the creek bottoms.
For the ranch owner who is also a sportsman, fall brings an almost overwhelming list of possibilities. You may elect to follow your favorite pointing dogs as they traverse the uplands in search of Hungarian partridge and Sharp-tail grouse. If you are an archer, nothing rivals the thrill of calling in a bull elk. Duck blinds beckon to the water fowl and if you have not gotten your fill of fly fishing, fall spawning Brown Trout have begun to brighten with color.
Instead, why not pack a lunch and spend the day on horseback, gathering cows from their summer range. Or climb in a combine and cut your own straight path across the rolling fields of grain.
Whatever your passion, this is the time of year when many of our favorite memories will be made. Friends and family will want to share in the fun. Children and Grandchildren will connect with the land, find grand adventure and grow in ways they never imagined. These moments will be remembered and passed on.
Land stewardship and family are the makings of a legacy. These are the most rewarding aspects of land ownership and now is the time to savor it all. So make the most of this time, share it with family and relish your successes. The memories will carry on.