AMY KIRK: Questions are the answers to gender gapDays or sometimes weeks prior to an all-family ranch chore like moving cows, my husband starts letting the kids and me in on the plan but only a little at a time.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
Days or sometimes weeks prior to an all-family ranch chore like moving cows, my husband starts letting the kids and me in on the plan but only a little at a time.
He has this silly notion that when he shares what he wants everybody to do, he thinks he only needs to get to the point and sees little reason to elaborate with details for clearer understanding of his intentions. As he explains what each person’s job is, I try to visualize the scenario he’s describing and if I can’t see it clearly I give him my “thinking” look. It generally leads to one of the few questions he’ll ask of me; “You know what I’m talking about?” It’s then that I proceed with rephrasing what I think he’s talking about, which is oftentimes wrong.
My first step in helping carry out any cow-related ordeals has always been to ask a lot of questions. If I don’t think he gives enough information about how he wants to get the job done I start inquiring to fill in the gaps. It’s just my nature; I’m a woman. Question and rephrasing-his-plan sessions help me gather the information I need to complete my understanding because details are something he tends to leave out.
My standard querying procedure is to go after more information than I really need about what he’s thinking. I can always disregard what he says if it doesn’t come in handy or isn’t pertinent to carrying out my tasks but it’s better to have more details than not enough. It never hurts to have an abundance of information once the crew splits up to carry out any task pertaining to cows or in meeting a cowman’s expectations.
Sometimes I ask questions even though my husband’s already told me because I either didn’t pay attention the first time or I just want to confirm what I think his strategy is. Regardless, when he says, “I thought we went over this!” (meaning he thought I understood his instructions), I always use the excuse that his habit of mind-changing up until the day of, is the reason why I’m asking again.
Our crew leader has been known to deviate from his original plan in the days leading up to a designated ranch job if a better strategy comes to mind. As a result, I have developed a bad habit of not fully listening to him until it’s critical. The night before or the morning of are not good times to decide to pay attention. Starting up a conversation with a little review session to confirm the day’s mission long after he’s explained everything and assumed I understood, can be disruptive to his need for sleep or concentration.
Asking too many questions has caused problems in communication with my spouse. Not for me, mind you — I don’t have a problem asking questions or asking the same ones more than once. Question-and-answer sessions can distract our leader from his focus and can cause him to have doubts as to whether the crew understands what they’re expected to do.
My husband may not always understand why I have to ask so many questions but the main reason is that it helps fill our gender gap.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.