It was a week: Long days AI-ing, gathering pastures, running cows through the chute…
At the end of the week, we were about to gather bulls when…oops, there was an accident and my hubby broke his wrist.
He still gathered bulls, but later the x-ray confirmed what we already knew…
And then there was surgery. (Look for more on this coming later in my column in Progressive Cattle.)
Sometimes life is full of surprises and it doesn’t follow what we expect.
Today, as I was attempted to help move cows, I had an asthma attack. I haven’t had an asthma attack in a LONG time, but this was a doozy. I had to get help to get back to the house. The pollen counts are high this year and I guess it is taking its toll on me.
So I figure between the two of us, we can make a team. I have the hands and he doesn’t have allergies…we can do this, right?
We think life will look one way and it looks like something totally different. It is hard sometimes not to be disappointed, but there is always hope. Fred Rogers–as in THE Mr. Rogers–used to say, “Look for the helpers.”
Life is full of challenges, but it is also full of helpers. I had extra help today to help me get to the house. Blessing. My hubby’s surgery on his wrist went well and he hasn’t had much pain. Blessing.
Anyone else experiencing challenges? Are you finding hope? I hope so!
We are in the middle of calving season. It’s a little earlier than we have done in the past, but when we moved, the calving date was already set. Fortunately, it was not January!
If you follow me, you know that we prefer spring-time calving because it follows nature’s natural rhythm, plus we live in Montana: January and February are brutal months to be calving. The weather is traumatic for their health, you have to watch them constantly so they don’t freeze–even so, they often lose ears, tails, etc to frostbite. It is not good for the cattle, the owners, or the pocketbook.
I understand that some also farm and have to calve earlier to get ready for farming or to make grazing permits work. Some claim calving earlier guarantees bigger calves–not so. That’s a possibility, but the hazards to their health and ours–(night checks at 20 below zero–yuck!) actually delay gain. We’ve had similar weight calves when calving in April to those who calve months earlier simply because it is easier on the animal.
Anyway, I digress…I have received questions about calving from people outside of the agriculture circle. Their biggest concern boils down to one thing: Are we kind to cattle?
A fair question!
We believe cattle ought to live healthy lives that follow their natural cycles. We will not beat them or mistreat them. It is unfortunate that people ask this question because it means that somewhere it has been projected that this is the norm. *Sigh*
We’ve warmed calves in the barn because it was too cold outside after they were born. (We had calves in February from a handful of cattle. Again, not our choice, but it renewed our opinions about spring calving.) We have brought them in the truck to the barn, wrapped in old coats or blankets.
Yes, cattle are a business. Yes, we have to manage them in a way that is financially responsible. AND-we will try to nurture them in the best way possible.
Calving is a reminder of renewal. The life cycle continues and we get to watch it unfold in the fields.
More than likely, it’s because I’ve been out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to do things in the past six months that I’ve never done. I’ve even had to pretend I was stronger than I really am.
Here’s the deal: I am a ranch wife and there are things that happen here that don’t happen anywhere else. There is laundry that needs to be washed, re-washed, and the machine disinfected. There are bizarre injuries, land issues that couldn’t be dreamed of, and I…
Well, I feel inadequate. I’ve seen other ranch wives who take pictures of solutions they thought of in less than one second. I’ve tasted perfect dishes that when I ask for the recipe I hear, “Oh, a little of this and a little of that…” As if they never had to try. I’ve seen ranch wives throw on their husband’s flannel shirt and a pair of jeans first thing in the morning and look like they could be ready for a cover shoot. I’ve watched amazing women saddle up and outride their men.
That’s not me. Google and Pinterest are my resource solutions. I use recipes with real measurements. And if you see me first thing in the morning, well, I may need to identify myself, let alone be ready for any kind of picture. As for riding, my mount usually has a motor and four wheels.
Maybe I just need to get all this off my chest so I don’t give you any false impressions.
Or, maybe I’m writing this because in church yesterday I heard this phrase: “We live according to who we think we are.”
Insecurity says, “What’s wrong with me?” and you live trying to make something happen. Some things you can make happen–others you can’t. Trying to force things though is controlling and it really doesn’t help anything.
Ranching is tough. So is life. Things don’t always turn out how we think they should. BUT…that isn’t all life is. It’s beautiful and hopeful.
Last week I watched my oldest daughter ride some rough country with a bunch of old guys. Her perseverance and tenacity made me proud. Beautiful.
She inspired me: To try new things. To quit letting myself feel “less-than”, especially when it comes to ranch wifery. I even “dumped” supper in the crock pot.
Inferiority and insecurity aren’t new; but they are downers. Someone is always going to be better than me. There are going to be things that take me longer than someone else.
But someone isn’t living in my house. Someone isn’t occupying my thoughts. I am.
Maybe you’ve never struggled with knowing what it’s like to not measure up. Maybe you’ve been invited to every party. Maybe you’re at the top. However, I bet we all have areas where we feel “less-than”. Perhaps bad circumstances scar our identities. I could rattle off a few. However, if we live out of those thoughts of hurt and failure, we never begin to live out of who we really are. I’m imperfect, but still a ranch wife. Not a shiny buckle cowgirl, just regular ‘ol me. But I’ve learned a lot. I can cook for a crew. I can vaccinate cattle. I can irrigate. I can run a house and a four-wheeler. I love animals. I help my husband who is a full-on rancher. I have a passion for agriculture. So, maybe I can’t quilt. Maybe I won’t break any colts…
I’m still a ranch wife. A cowboy wife.
I think Dr. Seuss’s words may be timeless on this subject:
As I mentioned in my previous post, we recently moved and bought a place that needs a lot of TLC. We’ve been working on the inside, but as spring approaches, we’ll be working on the outside too. We have acreage–our land to put our cows on–it really even feels good to write that. We are blessed. With the blessing though comes restoration. Fences are down and the ones that are up are so old, bad, and twisted they wouldn’t hold in anything. We’ve been doing a lot of clean up, but my hubby’s good horse still gone torn up on something–He’s been hanging out in the barn with a “turtleneck” on to keep him from rubbing on the stitches, munching on antibiotic cocktails and calling to his buddies.
Yet, what we see right now is not what it could be.
There is work to be done for sure, but we have ideas in mind for the place it could become. Don’t you think that’s what the homesteaders thought? They traveled west, looked at ground, and settled in a place because they had a taste of “what it could be”. I suppose we are modern day homesteaders then. Often though in life we approach things not for what they are now, but for what they might be, if only given attention.
May we all continue to see and begin to see things with an eye for “what it might be”!
It’s that time of year again, where we begin thinking and talking about new things, hopes for the New Year, resolutions, etc. I’m not much of a resolution maker, but I do love thinking about new things. I love the birth of possibility. As we begin thinking about newness, the atmosphere bubbles with creativity, and thus, life.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted for about a month. The day before Thanksgiving, we unloaded our UHaul and started a new adventure in Montana. We’ve lived in Montana before (although near a different city) and doors opened up for us to be able to buy a small ranch of our own. We’ve dreamed of this happening for eleven years now. Eleven years ago we bought ten cows and put them in a rented pasture to begin our ranching endeavor. We weren’t clueless to ranching; we realized this wasn’t how you run a grand enterprise, but it was what we had. We decided we’d rather dosomething with what we had than do nothing at all. We didn’t own land, couldn’t afford to and we scratched together to buy those cows. (I’ve written before on this tiny motley crew—they were laughable indeed, but affordable.) So to think that here we are now, able to have some land of our own, well—it truly is a miracle. Our place is quite the fixer-upper, but seeing beyond the current state into what it could be, we see potential in our spot. The views alone are worth it.
The house needs/needed a lot. Before we moved in, we spent a few weeks going back and forth between Idaho and Montana, trying to fix up what we could before we moved. Electrical, some plumbing, tearing down walls to open it up… The day we moved in, the septic system failed, backing up for weeks. We discovered it had been backed up and failed for so long, all the drains were plugged and we’d have to replace both the septic tank and the drain field. This was disappointing because we were told it was new…
Apparently new to one person, isn’t new to another.
On the journey to wanting to fix something up, trying something new, start an adventure…there are a lot of cow pies. (That’s the nice way of putting it. J) I’ve found myself excited, frustrated, happy, upset, peaceful, angry, and hopeful. The road to dreams worth pursuing is hardly ever paved.
I focus a lot on dreams and hopes because without them, we parish. (Proverbs 29:18) I truly want to see my own dreams come true, but not just mine, my husband’s, my kids’, my friends’, all of you, your dreams as well.
It’s a process and I like to perform so that it all looks pretty, but life is messy. Let’s not give up, but press on towards what is worth pursuing.
Don’t you love those days when things flow? You hit the lights right, work gets done on time, and there aren’t “surprises”?
Yesterday wasn’t one of them. 🙂
It seemed one thing after the other popped up as a surprise and needed attention right away. A family member’s health is failing and I can’t fix it. Simple life details had piled up and then we discovered an out break of pink eye in our calves. The calves were gathered up so we could run them through the chute to vaccinate them and treat the active cases. It is just a small bunch of about forty calves, so it shouldn’t take too long, right? (Insert raucous laughter.)
A couple slipped through the head catch–which I didn’t close in time. A needle got stuck in the shot gun and no one could loosen it and I didn’t have pliers handy (we forgot to grab them before starting because we haven’t needed them in awhile…usually they twist right off). It was hot and the critters didn’t want to be run through the chute…and even though I talked nice to them (the guys can laugh at me, it’s ok) they had plans to go somewhere else. Needless to say, it wasn’t as quick as it ought to have been and I left a little before it was over to get the smell off me before hosting a baby shower that night.
It wasn’t a bad day, just not a smooth day. I’m not sure why I’m surprised when things don’t go smoothly because life just happens. Sometimes things just need taking care of…right away. When my kids are sick, then we take them to the doctor or change plans to let them rest. The same is true of cattle. Cows are living creatures and if they have needs, then we stop to protect their health.
Thankful today for the people and resources that allow us all–people and animals– to take care.