Anytime we need extra people to get our cows moved, worked or calves branded, I put on a meal to feed everyone afterwards, or at least I try to. The men who help us, earn their appetite and are ready to eat by noon, but they are difficult to feed. It takes effort and another twenty minutes or so to get them coaxed into the house to dish their plates up.
My kids got as much of an education from the big yellow school bus as they did from the school that they rode the bus to. They experienced some of their first life lessons from their bus rides home. I recall them talking about some of them at the supper table.
At the recent passing of my paternal grandmother, family members were encouraged to share their personal stories of our Grandma Della on our family's Facebook page. As I read others' stories, I tried to think of instances I could contribute. The only thing that kept popping into my mind was Proverbs 31 and the fact that Grandma Della was a farm wife (among other numerous roles).
It's often said that counting our blessings can make us feel better during tough times. I believe in doing this when life feels gloomy and doomy. It's been a rough winter out here and even though the calendar said spring officially arrived on the 20, this area doesn't really follow the spring equinox rules. More winter conditions are in our forecast. Since I'm a creative person, my gratitudes are too. Here's what I mean:
South Dakota is an exceptional state. Just look at its geography. Only in South Dakota will you be able to see towns 10 miles away at night or flat prairie in daylight as far as the eye can see for half the state, then be in mile high altitude and mountainous terrain all in one day (provided you drive across the state in a day). We also have billions of years old dinosaur bones, indigenous peoples' relics, rocks that geologists travel the world to pick up and look at, and a palace covered in corn cobs. What other state has that kind of variety?
So far, this winter has been unusually laden with snow that doesn't go away between snowstorms. What we have here is an "old school" winter. Of all the winters my husband and I have seen together, most of them have been dry, mild, and unusually un-winter like. After the most recent big snows we've received, this year reminds me of the winters of my childhood.
Now that my time is in less demand as a parent, I notice more. Our adopted dog Walter has changed my outlook and attitude on everyday life. Dogs like Walter are positive living examples of how to interact with and respond to the world. They know how to stop and smell the fresh air and take notice of what they smell. They feel the sun and wind on their face and savor the sensation. Our canine companions acknowledge the small stuff. We humans forget to do these kinds of things.
Even though country folks are disconnected from some amenities available to city and town life, there are many things to be grateful for. The sight of clear blue skies and sparsely inhabited wide open spaces. I live where there’s lots of open space and fresh, clean air, but I’ll still manage to find the one fresh cowpie within an acre to step in.
The process of "gettin' a cow in" is no easy task, and is 87 percent of a cattlemen's most famous cow-related stories. "Gettin' a cow in," refers to herding the animal into the barn during the calving process, and it's for the cow's sake, or for her calf. Our options during this are simple: push, pull or both — whatever will get the job done.
Have you ever noticed that the equipment you buy these days comes with a manual that's almost as thick as the manual for understanding women? Manuals have come a long way due to man's penchant for using his machinery, implements and power tools for purposes they weren't invented for.