AMY KIRK: The Golden Rule - Shut the gateGates that were shut and then left open are an invitation to a livestock disaster.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
As parents, my husband and I do our best to teach our kids about the dangers and consequences of drugs, alcohol and not shutting gates.
We persistently preach the golden rule at our house: SHUT THE GATE. Unfortunately, our kids usually don’t comprehend the full importance of our words until they experience for themselves the consequences of leaving a gate open.
There’s no better way to grasp this concept than when they have a friend or two over who leave a gate open and get reprimanded for their friends’ mistakes. Such instances result in our kids learning that breaking our golden rule is the severest consequence of any other careless act.
Our golden rule takes priority over all others because the carelessness with gates affects not only the culprit but all the innocent livestock that get out and the family members (if help is needed) who have to drop what they are doing in order to help gather which can sometimes be a challenge.
Gates that were shut and then left open are an invitation to a livestock disaster. The repercussions have the potential to be fatal to livestock depending on what the cows or horses find to gorge themselves on and how long they’ve been eating it.
We put a lot of effort into instilling good work ethics, good character-building qualities and good morals in our kids essentially so my husband and I don’t have to do additional work; specifically, work that could’ve been avoided.
As land, livestock and gate owners, we deal with other’s negligence going through our gates enough as it is and try to eliminate such carelessness with our kids.
An open gate doesn’t have to be within sight for a cow to know that it’s open either. Animals can sense it because they always seem to go to great lengths to find it, sometimes several miles.
Where a kid comes from and what level of common sense he or she has can be determined by the way they handle a gate. Hardcore country kids are easy to recognize because they subconsciously shut gates behind them. This is likely because they’ve experienced post-traumatic open-gate stress disorder at their own place.
My husband and I are adamant that shutting gates becomes a well-established habit in our kids so we can be confident that they will shut gates behind them when they visit other people’s yards, farms and especially ranches. It’s our goal to raise exemplary citizens who have common sense enough to close any gate they open, wherever they go.
We expect them to be positive influences on their peers and set good examples of gate-closing for their friends who may visit us sometime. We also encourage our kids to openly share horror stories of what has happened when gates were found left open at our place so that the traumatic tales they tell of their parents’ fury will stick with friends who may encounter a gate some day — especially if they happen to be ours. The outcome of some of our kids’ gate mistakes end up being an experience of a lifetime I doubt they will ever forget but the biggest lesson they have learned from gates being left open is, choose friends wisely.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com