I have spent winter on the sidelines; no cattle, very little snow and
no shop projects. Excess couch time has allowed me time to think big
thoughts and observe the condition here in northwest Minnesota.

First off, my heart goes out to ice fishermen. I know how passionate
these folks are about fishing and this has not been a year that gave
itself easily to the sport. Warm temperatures have kept the ice thin
means the nice icehouses have stayed on shore. These sportsmen have
been able to pull clamshell houses onto the ice, however. As a
young, struggling radio announcer, I stayed in some pretty ugly
One of these apartments was even lost to a fire which rendered it
only slightly less inhabitable and only a bit draftier. Anyway, some
of the clamshell fish houses I’ve seen are more comfortable and roomy
than my first apartment so maybe it isn’t such a tragedy to only be
allowed to fish from these portable structures.

Cattle guys have spent the winter in a mixed state. Lower
temperatures mean cattle use less food to keep themselves warm and to
feed their little calves. I touched on frozen twines last week.
Cattle prices have continued a downward movement which has obviously
hurt feed lots as they bought high and wake-up to lower prices most
days. Depending upon how much cow/calf operators paid for their cows
and heifers, these falling prices probably don’t hurt so much. The
cow/calf guy has historically received the short end of the stick so
it is nice to see them make money. I remember getting 80 cents a
pound for feeders so please remember, even as prices fall, you are
making two-fold of what used to make me happy. Feeder operators will
hurt until they’ve sold off the high-priced cattle they purchased in
2015 however they should be able to make up some of the difference on
lower-priced feeders and cheap corn.

I have spent the winter at work or at home. I typically spend a lot
of it out in the shop listening to old rock or old country while I
build something. I have built cattle crossings out in my shed. I
built Lisa’s greenhouse out there too. I restored a few old John
Deere snowmobiles out there and built a cupola for my shop last
winter. It’s funny, but just when I finally get a coffee pot out in
the shop to use, I quit using the shop. It’s just not winter without
a shop project although recent cold temperatures have made a good
effort to remind me that we are now in the fourth season.

And so it is the tipping point of winter. We gain a little sunshine
each day and most Christmas trees are back in their box. I am like
the sixth man on the court and first off the bench. But I haven’t
become part of the game though, at least not yet.

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