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Taking extra steps to be safe at a cold, busy time of year
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Taking extra steps to be safe at a cold, busy time of year

Winter has finally arrived. It was 10 below this morning when I walked out of the house. I guess we are about due, as it has been a really mild winter up to this point.

The forecast ahead based on the Weather Channel app says its going to be “bitterly cold” this week. I wish they would use more “rancher” terminology when they talk about the weather. Instead of ‘bitterly cold’ how about “its going to be an ether Sunday” or “today you will question once again why you live in western Nebraska and are calving in February.”

Speaking of cold, I was really excited this week as I found mega hand warmers at Bomgaars. They are about three times the size of traditional hand warmers. They are so large that I switched the Boss Man out for the smaller ones. I could not get my leather gloves on over them. (Yes, I know that’s sad when hand warmers are my excitement for the day.)

The recips look like they are going to start getting busy calving in about a week. I hope they hold off until the “bitterly cold” has passed, but knowing how that usually goes, it is highly unlikely. After this year, I have decided that there will be no more of this February and March calving. I have become a great fan of calving cows in May.

I guess the biggest news around the ranch is that the couple that was working for us gave us notice that they are headed back to Iowa. I can not fault anyone for wanting to be closer to family and friends (or at least family that you like). They headed out last weekend, and they will truly be missed by all of us here. It was great to have younger people around that were not afraid to work, were self-starters, and would put in a good, honest day of work.

For now, I’m going to start looking for someone that fits the parameters that the Boss Man and I would like and take advantage of college-age interns that need some experience. The first intern will start the beginning of April, which means they will miss some of the recip calving but will get in on heifers and the ranch cows.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying, that it’s tough to find good help that is willing to live in the boonies. It’s tough to hire families because the distance to school is a pain, and you can hardly afford to hire what you think is qualified by the time you pay for housing, wages, insurance, and more.

I wonder what other jobs are asking you to know a little about livestock, nutrition, technology, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, welding – the list goes on – while being willing to work six days a week in all kinds of weather conditions. Yep, I’d probably not sign up either. Oh wait, never mind.

Fortunately, with cows starting to come home from cornstalks, the Boss Man and I can rearrange jobs to get everything done just fine. My biggest concern is that with the two of us and spotty cell service I do not know exactly where he is at or even the vicinity. It’s something that we have talked about more and more over the last couple of months. It seems you never really think about some of those things unless something happens.

It took me quite a while to find a gadget that would provide tracking and also had the ability to dial emergency personnel if you needed it to.

There are tracking devices out there for ATVs and UTVs, which is what we are using most of the time. They can even dial for you if the vehicle would get into a “situation.” But what about those times I may be on horseback or the Boss Man may be feeding?

I finally found this company called Spot. It has a portable GPS device smaller than my cell phone that I can carry around. It will give 2-minute tracking updates to an app that the Boss Man also has downloaded on his phone. There is an emergency button that you can push to call. It has messaging capabilities, too, but I’m still trying to figure that out.

I clipped mine on to my jeans this morning and sent the Boss Man off with his. It still looks like I need to do a bit of work on the Boss Man’s but mine is working like a champ.

I’m hoping we never have to use them in an emergency, but it’s nice to have that bit of security. If you suffer from lack of cell service like we do, I’d highly encourage everyone to have a backup plan, it’s definitely worth the extra money for the security it provides.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

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