This can feel like hard work. The days are long and sitting and listening does take effort. I must constantly exercise judgment. I have known hard work in my life; these are long hours and the work is hard but not strenuous. Still, at times I feel quite tired. I get up at 5AM and get to the Capitol usually by 6:45. I have committee meetings and Senate floor throughout the day, then will get home after an evening meeting by 8PM. I often read bills in the evening. There is a lot of sitting.
Henry Schmidt, my grandfather worked hard. He was a cowboy for the Circle C ranch out of New Meadows that ran cows on the Seven Devils range and through the Bear Creek and Wildhorse country. In the 1940’s folks who had come to this area for subsistence were leaving for the war effort factories and Henry started buying up the ranches pretty cheap. He bought 6 or 7 ranches along the Wildhorse River all between 100-200 deeded acres. They might have a shack of a cabin, maybe a barn, a spring or stream and a bench or meadow for hay. Flat ground was at a premium. Only a couple of the places had a road to them, none had electricity or phone. Henry married Helena my step grandmother and they bought cows, put up the hay on the spread-out fields with horses, fed the cows in the winter, drove the small herd across BLM grazing and paid off the bank on the hard work in that hard country.
My father finished his college after WW2 and told me of a summer visit up to the Starveout Ranch, the highest elevation one with the last hay to put up. There was a nice cabin up there that Helena’s father had built when he homesteaded. Dad helped them haying on his summer break. He and Henry drove horse drawn mowers all day and used a dump rake to build the windrows. The hayfield was about 50 acres and pretty steep. They would quit cutting at dark, which was about 9 pm at that latitude in the summer. They would unharness then feed and water the horses, milk the cow, move the ditches to water the pasture while Helena was making dinner. Dad would go up to the screened-in attic to bed after dinner maybe 10PM. He told me that from his bed in the deepening dark he would see Henry riding off down the Starveout Creek trail to the ranches down along Wildhorse River. Henry was going to move the ditches to water different parts of the hayfield for the second crop of hay. Dad would wake up about 2 AM when he heard his dad coming back up the trail horseback. The sky in the east starts to lighten about 4 AM so he’d get up and get ready to start haying by 6. Dad thought he was working hard, but he couldn’t fathom how hard Henry was working. Neither can I. This isn’t work like that.