AMY KIRK: My rancher’s first loveThe important events that my rancher-husband remembers with great sentiment can probably be counted on one hand. One of which pertains to his first love.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
The important events that my rancher-husband remembers with great sentiment can probably be counted on one hand. One of which pertains to his first love.
There are a few moments in our married life that I can’t believe my husband doesn’t remember with the same importance that I do. He has his own special moments that he remembers such as the day he brought his first girl home. Her name was Samantha.
He was thirteen. She was fairly young also but acted mature and was from Newell. Samantha was born and raised a Jersey girl with brown eyes, a tawny gold complexion and was lactating at the time — she also had some Gurnsey in her.
Getting Samantha was a time my husband will always remember because she was the first cow that got him into the cattle business. As a young teenage boy growing up helping his dad with their family’s herd, he wanted to start his own cow herd. He saved all of his wages and he and his dad drove up to Newell in a pickup with a stock rack (remember back when those were popular?) so my husband could buy his first cow. The Jersey-Guernsey cross milk cow cost him about $700 and he named her Samantha.
He took a lot of ribbing about her breed, especially from an elder neighbor down the road but his pride never wavered. Buying his first cow to establish his own cow herd remains an important milestone in his life.
In all of the 19 years of knowing my rancher-husband, the only times I’ve ever seen him get misty-eyed was when his hay fever got to him. There are few things that cause my husband to get emotional — unless of course we’re talking about money, ranch work, or maybe even hand signals -- but that’s an emotion of a different kind for many future columns. Showing his emotions is just not something my rancher’s walnut-tough exterior will allow him to do. Only females like Samantha have the power to stir up a rancher’s emotions. I witnessed once just how much buying his first cow meant to him.
It was during a time when he had to endure a court ordeal that pertained to defending the morals of his cowboy way regarding our land and cattle owner rights. When a lawyer asked my husband how long he’d been a rancher, a hairline crack in his stoic facial expression revealed how he truly felt about his cows. He began his response with a long pause at the recollection of Samantha before he said as simply and as quickly as possible with a hint of emotion in his voice; “I bought my first cow when I was thirteen.”
Ranchers don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves or anywhere else that I’m aware of but when it comes to a man’s livestock, a rancher is protective of the strong ties he has to them. The memories that are created from putting a man’s whole heart and life into his livestock everyday are not forgotten.
Rare circumstances can cause the most calloused, persevering, hardship-hardened men to reveal a poignant, albeit brief moment of emotion regarding what his cows mean to him. Something you’re not likely see with the same level of emotion expressed on the faces of animal rights activists.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.