We're having fun on the ranch despite working hard processing calves and keeping up with pasture maintenance. The beautiful spring weather has been just right for flying.
My brother and father both have their pilot's licenses and use small planes to check our operation by air. The bird's-eye view allows them to quickly check on gates and water levels in the canals, look for any bogged-down cattle, and see if people are where they need to be. The time it would take to do similar checks of all the ranch locations from the ground would be days not minutes.
Flying has been a critical ranch management tool since the operation began. My grandfather started the activity soon after returning home from his tour as a B-29 bomber pilot in WWII.
At that time, the ranch was isolated and not very accessible by decent roads. Thus, flying was even more critical to the management of the operation. My dad and brother simply followed in his footsteps.
One morning a few months ago, my brother decided to bring the cow crew donuts. After stopping in town for the goodies, he was late to the barn and the crew had ridden off for the day. Since he needed to fly and check on a few things anyway, he took the donuts with him in the plane.
Wes buzzed over the crew to say good morning, and everyone waved. He then made another pass and dropped the bag of donuts out of the plane's window. They landed just in front of the crew on a big clump of smut grass that cushioned their fall.
To say the least, the crew was surprised, particularly at the method of delivery. Everyone thought it was great! The crew now enjoys donut drops every few weeks.
Wes has even flown over the employees' houses and dropped donuts to their kids. The kids think it's fantastic and talk about it all the time.
One of the little boys now runs out of his house whenever he hears a plane, expecting donuts to fall from the sky. He tells people the donut store delivers to his house!
I don't have my pilot's license, but I love flying with both dad and Wes. I especially enjoy going up in the small, two-seater Cub early in the morning when it's cool. You not only see all the cattle but also the wildlife. It's truly a scenic way to see the ranch.
I haven't been flying or dropping donuts in the last few months. With my baby due June 14, it will be a while until I can participate in any more donut drops. My fingers are crossed for an on-time delivery.
Friends and family tell me I might “calve” any day since I've really started springing heavy. Some people might be offended to be compared to a bovine at this fragile time, but for me it is just par for the course. I find these comparisons funny, since our lives revolve around such conversation anyway.
Other than the disappearance of my feet, things here are going well. Hopefully, the next time I write I can tell you about the arrival of our new cowhand and potential donut dropper!
Mary Anne Cruse, brother Wes, their parents and grandparents operate Ru-Mar Inc., a large commercial cow/calf operation in South Florida. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected].