Never going to retire

Modern concepts of retirement have no real relationship to the past. The idea of quitting work and then passing the days with pursuits other than work have only been a result of modern wealth. The TV is filled with advertisements about savings and investment to ensure that you have what you need for a retirement filled with travel and comfort.

This expectation was not a consideration 100 years ago. Most people that did retire on average lived for a year. Up until retirement people worked at whatever was their task in life. If you farmed or ranched you likely worked at it your entire life and died planting, pruning, milking, or rounding up. You likely received some respite from sons and daughters that took over and who stayed on the farm or ranch. In turn they continued the same work every day. It was their lifestyle until they died as well. My own father continued to do work into his 80th year helping with a large corporate family farm with timecards, water regulations, and pesticide requirements on the same ranch where he had lived for nearly 60 years. He no longer had difficult physical tasks, but continued to use his mind and the work helped him maintain his mental sharpness.

I retired a couple of years ago. However, I continue to work and to do things that I want. I have traveled a bit, some days I get up and do very little, and I read and write. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to do it, although I can anticipate the day that I may have to become more productive in a more conventional sense. I think there are days that my wife thinks about that in particular. In an effort to be more productive I went to the ranch to help Dennis. I had been involved with physical farm work until my early 30s when I went to work in the public school system. I still recall the last fields that I disked down on the farm where I grew up as the land transitioned to a new company and my father’s management responsibilities over the farm changed. Although I continued to do physical work around the house, working as a teacher and administrator had a different physical demand.

The day I helped Dennis it was mostly all physical. I cleaned out stalls, (I have previously written about my experience in that. It is definitely a crossover skill from my Superintendent days), hosed down horses, and groomed horses. I had not done that much physical work in a long time. By the end of the day I felt it. I did have the chance to advance my reading as while I was scooping and dumping I also could listen. Although it was physical work it allowed for mental concentration and contemplation.

It illustrated the amount of effort to care for horses. It is an everyday need. Because of that the day begins early in the morning at the Bright Ranch to make sure there is time to get the care part done, so the instruction can occur. It is critical to make the effort to have the horse resource for instruction and the enjoyment of riding. It is a tradeoff like everything else in economics and in life, the hardship for the reward. It is also about the partnership between the human and the horse. Shortly there will be lots of kids at the ranch for the summer and they will have the opportunity to learn these things too. This will only add to the work and the long day, I am sure.

One day Dennis and I were talking about retirement and I reflected on what he has to do to take care of the horses he has. I have been asked by some if I would be getting a horse at some point and I have told people not likely. It is better that Dennis takes care of the horse part. I think I have told that to Dennis. Dennis can’t really retire as long as he has a horses to care for. I don’t think I was breaking in any big news to him. As we sat in the chairs underneath the big tree by the old barn he just smiled.

So thanks Dennis!

By Mike B.