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KIRK: Gratitude for the little country things

Even though country folks are disconnected from some amenities available to city and town life, there are many things to be grateful for.

The sight of clear blue skies and sparsely inhabited wide open spaces. I live where there’s lots of open space and fresh, clean air, but I’ll still manage to find the one fresh cowpie within an acre to step in.

Having our own well. Not having a monthly water bill is a perk to country living and there’s nothing better on a hot day than having a refreshing cold drink straight from the garden hose. This is all fine and dandy until someone forgets to shut off the water while watering the garden and the well runs dry or it becomes dangerously low during a hot and dry summer.

Country dogs. For one, our dog’s barking lets me know when someone’s driven into our yard, but it’s also a dog’s way of making a joyful sound. Our dog’s barking routine and behavior every morning reminds me to enjoy the simple pleasures each day brings. A dog that has birds to chase and bark at, freedom to run and explore, but especially being able to lick the faces of those it loves, is an example of simple gratitude.

Long, drawn out conversations between farm and ranch men. It may take them longer to leave for home at times, but the stories they share about their work are enjoyable and usually make people laugh. Their work stories are more entertaining than those of men working in a Wall Street lifestyle.

No cell phone service. Being out of range of cell service is not all bad. Sometimes it’s nice being connected to just nature. That is until you get deep into a fencing project and realize there’s something you don’t have and need to call home.

Cows. They humble us by showing us how we don’t know what we’re doing.

The smell of manure. This order is the reminder that even though it can be a messy job and sometimes a job that really stinks some days, manure is part of the formula that produces money in the form of a calf crop — also known as our annual income. In the ranching world manure is referred to as “the smell of money.”

Mud. It may be messy, and delay plans or work we hoped to get done, but it also means we were blessed with moisture.

The savory aroma of pot roast. It reminds us that it was well worth the headache of graining our soon-to-be butchered critter every day for months. There’s nothing better than having a taste of our hard work.

Hardship. This lifestyle produces a steady stream of problems, setbacks, worries and challenges. The brief times we are not experiencing these things, we are always grateful for the reprieve.

Farm and ranch life has a tendency to be a pain, but if we read the fine print of the lifestyle, there’s always something to be grateful for.