AMY KIRK: Something to chew on during mealtimeSuppertime is my lifeline to my family’s daily lives, especially with my teenager.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
When families sit down to eat together, oftentimes the best part of meal is the conversations. It’s amazing what a little food does to stimulate discussion.
I’m considered our family’s suppertime-Nazi. Much to my irritation, my family regularly addresses me in a “Heil Hitler” gesture when I rouse them to come to the table, but it’s important to me that we eat together because suppertime is my lifeline to my family’s daily lives, especially with my teenager. I’m confident that pulling a big calf from a heifer without OB chains would be easier than extracting information from my eldest teen.
Plus, I’m all about multitasking and like eating supper with my family while getting updated, reminded, made fun of and made aware of any social drama. It’s a time-saver to feed everyone and listen at the same time since I can’t talk nearly as adeptly as others while eating. This also frees up my time after supper to perfect my skills such as floor sweeping, kitchen tidying, dishwasher cramming and leftover-storing instead of interrogating (AKA annoying) my kids.
Our family is just like yours; inevitably someone starts sharing something disgusting like who just started dating at school or the school lunch that day, and of course, someone pretending that the reverberating fart or belch “just slipped out.” But our family, like most ranch families, also engages in enlightening conversations as intellectuals.
Farm and ranch dinner-table discussions — ours included — have been known to veer toward herd health because it is our duty to ensure our animals’ health and we have to deal with their unattractive health problems. And, we’re just a sharing kind of people that way.
For our family, animal health gets hashed out because we’re an operation that can’t afford the convenience of a vet for every unattractive health issue that arises.
These conversations generally develop in order to gather information, suggestions, old wives tales and advice for treatment ideas to try. Ranchers are very good at sharing their tips, but suggestions are usually accompanied by a related story. Warm-up conversations oftentimes start out innocently enough, but can make a turn for the disgusting of nature to the average American disconnected to large animal vet health issues. Just like your average office job, there is a grim side to our line of work also.
Some of the more common mealtime topics among farm and ranch families include cow cleaning (placenta) that hasn’t departed from a cow, abscesses, pink eye, a broken stem (bull’s reproductive organ), broken foot, foot rot, or the discovery and cause of an animal’s death. These are only a few of the problems that can occasionally show up on an animal needing discussed at the supper table. But prolapse stories tend to be the most popular mealtime chats just because they also rate among the most challenging to overcome and don’t have a very high recovery success rate. As a result, innocent dinner guests either go home hungry or feed off the discussion and contribute their animal health knowledge and own messy stories about such issues.
These are normal conversations around farm and ranch dinner tables. Other people may find them inappropriate mealtime conversations, but I can guarantee you they’re not as disgusting as the topic of presidential campaigning.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.area voices.com.