This past weekend I got to check and feed cattle with my dad. In the rain. and mud. with no raincoat. on a horse that has two speeds: fast and flying.
and it was downright glorious.
The silent man and his introverted daughter; talking only when necessary and communicating mostly with the wave of an arm to signal “move up”, “get around ’em” and “whoa.” I enjoyed the entire experience, even when we had to fix a five-strand barbed wire fence that broke because of my poor judgement. oops
Growing up, I made a lot of mistakes. I’m relatively clumsy and I like to ride fast horses – not the best combo when moving heifers. So I learned quickly that if I made a mistake, making eye contact would only bring about the lecture I was going to get much more quickly. Avoid eye contact, prolong the lecture; if only a few minutes.
Head down and shoulders slouched, I got the wire stretchers, pliers and extra roll of wire from the back of the truck.
“Sorry – I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s alright darlin’ – I should have told you better.”
Not the response I was expecting. No lecture, just understanding.
Make no mistakes, tough love and quick lessons were my childhood. Lessons I wouldn’t have learned had I not been able to work on the farm with our 4-H livestock, horses and roping cattle. Lessons that are learned quickly and after only one mistake. You only let the steers get out once before you remember to ALWAYS shut the gate, even though you’re only going to be in the lot for a few minutes. Responsibility – check. Additionally, you only get frapped once by a mean-spirited steer before you learn not to stand beside them. Cow-kicking is not a laughing matter, especially when you’re seven. Attentiveness – check.
On a highly related note – I’m thankful that the Department of Labor withdrew their proposed regulations regarding children working on the farm. I know that my husband and I can raise our kids on the farm while instilling in them the values that we gleaned from our upbringings. We can throw them on a gentle giant and turn them loose in the arena or pasture to bring up the calves. Send them out the door with a bottle of milk replacer to nurse a new baby. Trust them to drive the feed truck when they’re only 12. Memories and lessons, hand-in-hand.
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” – I reckon that’s just about right Mr. Churchill. Sometimes what the heart needs is some time in the saddle.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
p.s. Thanks to EVERYONE for the birthday cards, texts, messages, phone calls and tweets. You are all too kind!
also – I’m not a photographer and don’t claim to be, but I’m hopelessly addicted to the wonderful things that Instagram can do and that’s what I used to take the pictures in this post. I take a lot of pointless pictures that you can see by following me (@brandibuzzard)!