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April Baumgarten

Baumgarten: It was all worth it

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opinion Dickinson, 58602
The Dickinson Press
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Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Remember when I told you that I couldn’t wait to get off the farm? Now I’m starting to think I was made to stay there.

This all comes after two months of sleeping at the ranch, which is about 20 miles southwest of Dickinson. No offense to those that live in the country, but driving back and forth 40 miles each day gets tiring, especially when you have to face ice, wind and snow. The gravel doesn’t like the fact that I get to drive on it with a convertible, so it’s only a matter of time before it rebels and tears those tires to shreds.

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I have found a place in Dickinson. The last time I moved in with my parents and got a job it took me almost six months to find a place, so I consider this a win. I’ve also been lucky enough to find people that have a heart and don’t gouge me for money. For that, I am grateful.

But I digress. That’s a column for a different time. I was talking about how I couldn’t wait to get off the farm. I’m not a fan of people getting up early in the morning and talking on the phone. And sharing my space with my brother — his clothes, for some reason, are in my closet upstairs while he sleeps downstairs — is not OK.

To be fair, I’m sure Mom and Dad don’t like it when I come home after they have gone to bed. I’m told I have loud feet and they have light ears. It equals out.

One advantage for them — and me — was that I usually came home just in time to check for calves. It was in the dead, cold of night. I managed to get out of my work clothes and into my sweats and muck boots. My eyes drifted as I walked through the gates — most with latches that were either too high or too low for the holes they went into. But I wasn’t sleepy enough to ignore the ever-watchful eyes of mothers-to-be. I’m not saying my parents have cattle with poor disposition. It’s just that sometimes momma cow can be vicious when you get between her and a her calf.

I have to go through the barn in order to get to the back pens, where all the newborn calves get to sleep. Well, they don’t sleep at night, at least not when I come through their pen. The babies get up from their sleep and play while the farmer sleeps away. They would stand up and run around, bucking their long legs and tails into the air.

I got the same feeling as I took a trip south of Dickinson to Regent. I saw plenty of farmsteads along the highway. Beautiful buttes and fields surrounded barns and farm houses. It made me think, “What if I bought a place of my own in the country? I could raise all the Herefords I wanted.”

I know it’s a fantasy. I would have to become a farmer to become a rancher. I don’t have enough patience for that. Just ask Dad.

I still would like to retire someday to a ranch with plenty of white faces roaming across the pasture. It’s enough to make me want to stay and become a rancher. Lugging two pails of grain at a time to the bulls, throwing hay bales that scratched the crap out of my arms and pounding all those posts seems to not matter so much anymore. If there was one thing I loved while growing up on a ranch, it was taking care of the calf. I’d get her ready for shows, feed her twice a day, pull her into the barn and watch her have a little one of her own.

I’m going to miss seeing the cows every day. I’ll come back to visit them every now and then.

Take care, my little calvies.

Baumgarten is the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press. Email her at abaumgarten@thedickinsonpress.com and visit her blog at baumsaway.areavoices.com.

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April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.   
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