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AMY KIRK: Canceled, due to cows

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opinion Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
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AMY KIRK: Canceled, due to cows
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Amy Kirk, Daily Republic Columnist  One of the most important virtues of ranching is having contortionist-like flexibility (metaphorically, but physical flexibility does come in handy at times). Flexibility is required when a major part of one’s life involves managing numerous animals. They can get out, knock important parts loose or break stuff off that’s needed to ensure they have water and it all has to be taken care of immediately.

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When it comes to a lifestyle that revolves around animals, scheduling in extra time helps in the prevention of cancelling plans because cows are just animals doing what animals do: mess up plans. Whether arrangements are made for leisure and enjoyment, appointments are scheduled, meetings are set or kids’ sporting events are anticipated, it does not matter, animals — especially in large numbers — have a way of sensing plans that don’t pertain to them. We may think we’ve experienced every kind of cow-related setback, but they continue to show us new ways to tamper with our plans. Cows get possessive or jealous of us similar to the way dogs get mad and make a mess of things when left alone too long. The only difference is that cows do their thing right before we carry out our plans, so we run late or have to cancel.

For families like us who have a cow herd and no extended family or friends close by or hired help to oversee things when we’re gone, the smart thing to do is to schedule activities with a wide margin for extra time beforehand. Remembering is the problem. Expecting setbacks and the possibility of encountering problems has always been helpful in making any plans. Many of ours have had to be canceled completely on account of getting waylaid by cows, but other times we’ve been lucky and just showed up late.

If I had a dollar for every plan, meeting, appointment, fun event, or date with girlfriends I’ve had to scratch or attend late on account of problems regarding livestock, I would have enough money for a new place with good fences, top of the line equipment and a hired man. More than once we’ve had to skip church or go to the late service. I have probably missed more meetings than I’ve attended and have showed up late to pick up kids from practice so much that scheduling setback time is becoming habit-forming. I definitely don’t plan anything for the first six weeks of calving season, and after that I check with my husband first before making any commitments.

Just to verify, I am not the only ranch woman who experiences such lifestyle problems. Other ranch wives and I have jokingly exchanged different plans we’ve had to cancel or show up late for because of cows. We’ve found ourselves gathering cows out of someone’s yard instead of attending a wedding ceremony, fixing fences and asking friends or family to pick up our kids from school, pushing cows home spur of the moment and missing a class we paid money to participate in — and the list goes on.

I have spotlighted the negative aspects of having to cancel plans on account of cows, but their antics have come in handy when I would rather be messing with cows than go to a meeting or appointment I wasn’t excited about to begin with.

— Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourthgeneration cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at

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