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If you like certainty in your life, then you won’t like guiding, farming, or ranching.  There are too many variable in all these ways of life to satisfy those who like or need black and white solutions to the trials and errors of any life style.  If you like the stability of knowing what will happen between 8am and 5pm of the common work week, then following a job that is more like a 24/7 proposition won’t be for you.

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All three lifestyles, guiding, farming, and ranching are enmeshed into the framework of nature and all the tribulations of adapting to constantly changing situations and challenges.   But that is also the beauty of not knowing before-hand what each day will bring, as the mystery is always just that. Something unknown waiting to happen, and not knowing for certain can be exciting and never dull.

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Climate, what is expected over the long haul,  and weather, which is what happens daily,  are the two things that are a baseline to lifestyles that are  foundationally tied to mother nature.  Each day counts. Going out in the middle of the night during  a snow storm to tend to a cow having a calf,  watching a hail storm destroy a crop of cherries, or rowing a boat in the middle of a down-pour to get down river are all a part of the bargain in these livelihoods.  Of course, it also includes cute little newborns in the spring sun, the sweet fragrance of a blossoming orchard, or the view of bighorn sheep drinking by the river’s edge as you float down stream.

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Sometimes, droughts control crops, be it animal or plant, and even the amount of water that rolls down the canyon, or not, that determines if a river can be navigated.  Whims of the weather shape behavior on our planet, for  all biological entities. Realities face isn’t always one we wish to kiss or a medicine we wish to taste. But, there isn’t a coin made that has only one side, so flipping it we must and live by the consequences that result.  Chance is always uncertain, while change is always a constant.

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The good, bad, and ugly all play out in  the grand uncertainty of it all.  Of course, the balance weights heavily in the positive aspects of the whole, otherwise, why would anyone wish to live this way? And why else would people who do these things wish to share it with others?  Seeing the smiles and content in the heats of others is reward enough, not counting the immense joy it brings to oneself.  Ears, eyes, and voice evolved for a reason. It wasn’t to be deaf, blind, or silent. All these things came about to share and develop community. Just like it takes all organs to make the body function properly, it takes a collective community to make a social system work well.

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Though I am a river guide, I have also worked in both other professions at some capacity during my years, so can appreciate the commonality between them all.  Though river guiding can be a lot of work, compared to the other two, I think I will stick to river guiding. Given the choice between shoveling cow and horse manure or viewing natural beauty of a river flowing through white-washed rocks from birds of prey, white always wins over brown in my world.

Owyhee May 1-6_ 2009 Olympus B 018 (2)

Gary Lane
www.doryfun.com

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