My fingers were frozen. It was 24 degrees and I was gripping a flag to help usher cows down the alley. It was cold for the middle of October. It should have snowed, it would have made me feel better.
There we were sending our cows down the alley at 7 am to our vet to let us know who was having more babies and who was not ( or who got with the neighbors bull).
I danced in place and felt better about life when I was moving.
The temperature didn’t rise and by noon we were all frozen and ready to call it a day. We trailed them to the pasture and dumped them off.
Ranch life is not glamorous and being women in a man’s world sets it’s own sets of issues.
My sister and I have been our dad’s hired hands our whole lives. We have been on the back of horse and in the middle of a pasture most of our lives. Funny enough our dad still will pair us up and send us off together; and still repeats directions every time. No we don’t go up every goat trail he does, which is why a man in his 60s still gets pissed at us and still says things like “ don’t worry about your horse, he can do it.” Which is true; but even some days my Steady Eddie Nuisance stops and asks me if I’m serious.
However, we learned to sort cows and we learned to look for a calf drooping. We also learned to shut a gate and open it in the same yell.
I am still out of practice every time we ride because I’m not out in it every day. I also don’t know every cow because I’m not looking at them every day. That comes from having to have a full time day job to supplement my full time cow hobby.
There’s a lot to be said about a beautiful day of riding. That’s easy. When the sun is shining and the wind is at your back. You get to look around at God’s Country and think about how blessed your life is to be on a back of a horse.
Women in agriculture is on the rise. There are more women taking ownership of the land and becoming stewards for the brand. Women have always taken an active part in the leadership and running of the land; whether they have been recognized or not. If I stop to think about all the times my Great Grandma had re-arrange her day according to when her husband would take coffee breaks or need a meal out in the field; it blows my mind. And she kept a house so clean you could eat off the floor. My mom has often been doing one thing and had to drop it to go help my dad either move a tractor, bring him a vehicle, take him lunch or be the gate opener.
This time of the year is when our year officially starts over. Our calves have been shipped and we have gone through our cattle to see who needs to go, so we can replace. My sister and I are learning as we go and our wild bunch of 3 year olds didn’t do too badly this year; so we are pensively hopeful they will do just as well this coming year. We will pay our bills, pay for grass and pay for hay.
And as I watch the snow fly today I realize this winter won’t be easy and there will be a lot of cold days. A lot day of spinning out of a frozen cow poop. More days of remembering to bring cake ( cow feed) for our favorites like 809, Biscuit and white tag. Cows are a curious sort and most of the time will sniff my neck while I cut the twine on a round bale. They also know when it’s my dad feeding them or when it’s the girls. They become impatient and demanding. We are slower. We tell this to them every year; but on those really nice days it’s nice to just turn off the pick up and sit with them for a minute.
So when you buy that delicious steak and cook it to perfection (just not well done!); remember there are hard working men and women who don’t get a day off, who worry about their animals daily, who spend a great deal away from their families, and who do their very best to feed America.