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AMY KIRK: I just want to be mad for awhile

Naturally, one of the rare times when everything goes smoothly handling cows all day with my family, I have to be too irritable to appreciate it. Amy Kirk, Daily Republic ColumnistInstead, I was frustrated about the snowfall the day before, hindering a critical delivery of six boxes containing copies of my recently published book.

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I had to alter my plan of hand-delivering preordered books to locals the day before we intended to move cows, to sometime after moving cows. I usually don’t care about a late delivery, but since I’d scheduled a book signing in the evening of our cow-moving day, and hoped to ship books out before Christmas, I was in a lather about what I was going to do if the books didn’t show up in time.

While working to get our cows home I was stressing about the arrival of my packages.

By our cattle working standards when we’re a small crew, we had a 4.2-star day. We only had one little setback when a cow that was being difficult to load caused a ruckus in getting the rest of the cows she was with loaded. Anytime corral quarreling is minimal over who was doing things right, wrong, or whose system works better and problems are minor, it’s a great day.

Cows gathered willingly, our system was streamlined, and I got to do what I wanted, which was to be in the corrals with the cows sorting them and cutting out a bunch for each trailer load and getting to do the job my way. My daughter and I got to work together and stay at the corrals to get another bunch of cows ready for loading while my husband and son drove back and forth hauling cows home. Keeping busy all day was somewhat helpful in distracting my thoughts about the books not showing up, but it wasn’t enough that I could appreciate how the day went handling livestock without any cow-handling wrecks or major corral quarrels. Being grouchy was a side effect of my worry over getting the boxes in time for my book signing and Christmas deliveries.

By late afternoon, our cows were all home but my boxes still hadn’t arrived so my anxieties were back in full force.

I began the womanly process of bawling in response to my frustration, but had to put an end to that when my runny nose made an unsightly snot bubble.

Upon my return from a trip to town, I spotted a UPS truck in Pringle and chased down the driver. According to my luck with luck, he didn’t have my boxes, but knew the driver who did and called him. I basically ran down that driver, too, by heading back toward Custer and meeting him on a back road where he was delivering next.

I gladly relieved him of all six boxes and hurried home.

I had an hour and a half to sign books, put them into mailers, shower, get to the post office, and make it to my book signing, but I had books! Getting a few boxes of books was way more work and stress than dealing with a whole herd of cows.

— Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at