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Across the Fence: The cowboy’s legacy – he’s still ticking

Published on 21 December 2018
Hey mom, watch this

We’ve heard it repeatedly: The average age of the rancher is 68. Certainly, there is a necessary focus on encouraging younger generations in agriculture. However, did you ever stop to think about what else this statement means?

Think deep.

The cowboys in this statistic survived many of the choices they made. In fact, they made it to some golden years.

I don’t know about you but, as the mother of a teenage son, this is somewhat comforting. Who am I kidding … as the wife of a 40-something-year-old cowboy, it is especially hopeful.

Ranch life isn’t for the faint of heart.

Last winter, I got a call from my husband: “Can you bring the feed truck to me? I got stuck in the snow in the ranch truck.”

Me: “Sure, let me turn off the stove, bundle up, jump-start the feed truck, pray it starts, and I’ll be right down. Where are you?”

Silence. (This is never a good sign.)

Me: “Are you OK?”

Him: “Oh yeah, nothing’s wrong. I’m in a ravine ... uh, the one going down to the river. We’ll need the long tow strap.”

Not too much later, I head out to the field in the feed truck where I find him and the truck halfway down a cliff on their way toward the river. What’s holding them there? A Charlie Brown tree.

Me: “You didn’t tell me you almost died.”

Him: “I didn’t almost die. You’re overreacting.” He grabs the tow strap. “Now, I don’t want you to come down here in case this truck goes down. I’ll hook it up and, when I flash my lights, step on the gas.”

The truck didn’t budge. At all. The Charlie Brown tree bowed more, and I prayed a little harder.

Me: “I don’t think we’re going to get this out in the dark.”

Him: “Sure we will; it’s no big deal. We just need two trucks. I’ll call the neighbor.”

The neighbor comes over in his truck, which he chained up, and asks how my hubby got down there. He replies, “I didn’t realize I was that close to the edge.”

The neighbor hooks up his truck to our dangling truck. After several intense grunts, some finagling, a strong directive for me to “not watch” and multiple engine revs, my hubby is back at the top of the hill and so is the truck.

Him: “See, I told you we’d get it out. No big deal.”

Me: “Yes, I should’ve listened to you. But, uh, do you need to change your shorts?”

No comment.

The following day at school, our neighbor’s child asked one of our children, “Doesn’t your mom get mad when your dad does stuff like that?”

Our daughter replied, “No, she’s used to it by now.”

Perhaps I am used to it, but it doesn’t make it easy. I am not always calm. I’d like him to live to see his grandkids one day. I’d like to make it to our 50th wedding anniversary. I guess we’ve made it 20 years already, so that’s remarkable. I thank God on a regular basis.

I suppose most cowboys are thankful they’ve seen another day. The obstacles they overcome and the strength they exude … sometimes there aren’t words. Cowboys carry a force unlike any other. Teenage cowboys do too. I often tense when I hear, “Hey Mom, watch this.”

Really, we can all be thankful for the day we’ve been given and all the new year holds. Hopefully it won’t be too exciting but, just in case, my hubby got a 60-foot tow strap for Christmas. end mark

PHOTO: “Hey Mom, watch this,” just means prepare for anything. Photo by Marci Whitehurst.

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