AMY KIRK: Telling it is better than yelling itI’ve learned from past experience that it’s better to be told what to do than to be told to “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
While helping our neighbors get their calves loaded on the truck for the trip to the sale barn, I allowed my husband to boss me around without resistance.
Last week was our nearest neighbor’s sale day and my husband and I helped gather, sort and load their calves. As a neighborly wife, I had some vital jobs to do while helping. The first was to make sure nobody was waiting on me. Arriving early is just as important on our neighbor’s sale day as it is on ours so I always make sure I’m in the pickup before my husband. This is my safeguard against being accused of making us late.
It was a nippy 18 degrees out and my husband expected us to be there before daylight. I made sure I had everything I needed prior to leaving the driveway: food in my belly, plenty of coffee, long johns, hat and gloves, silk rag for my neck, overshoes, heavy coat, coveralls and most importantly, a high tolerance for patience.
Once we got down to the neighbors, my next responsibility was to be as low-maintenance as possible especially to my husband. The crew always starts off helping gather. Everybody used ATVs for convenience purposes since four-wheelers can be loaded in the trailer the night before instead of having to catch, load and saddle horses in a rush on a cold morning.
My low maintenance duty began once my husband got my four-wheeler started. It’s my job to ensure the machine doesn’t die once started, that the gears shift when I want them to and that I keep up. Any rescuing on my husband’s part due to “the wife’s” lagging behind because of equipment problems can cause impatience with him in our efforts to be efficient and reliable help.
I don’t react with sarcasm when he brusquely tells me to “Hurry up!” while re-gloving my hands or putting my coffee cup in the pickup as everybody takes off. I let him instruct me around the neighbors because I am fully aware that his upstanding reliable rancher-reputation is on the line and he does not want us to be a burden or the cause of undue stress on someone else’s sale day.
My husband always knows the neighbors’ game plan for bringing everything into the corrals since they all speak the same language, so I focused on bringing up the rear of the herd and let the men do any necessary four-wheeler cowboying. Once the cattle were in the corrals I anticipated my next job instructions but was fortunate enough to take up a position of my own choosing in the corrals.
Sale day is a big day for all ranchers. There are many things weighing on a rancher’s mind that people’s efforts to please with confirming questions can add to the owner’s stress. Questions about how the owner wants everything sorted or repeatedly asking what eartag numbers the crew needs to look for are important but can overload the man circuits. I make an effort to refrain from interjecting with my input until everything’s on the truck and culls have been sorted off.
I always strive to be silently cooperative and helpful because I’ve learned from past experience that it’s better to be told what to do than to be told to “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.