This is the time of year local ranchers are weaning and selling their calves. You see lots of stock trailers on the roads, and if you are outdoors, you can often hear the bawls of separated cows and calves. This is payday for ranchers. Many often get paid just once a year, so it is a big deal to them. A lot rides on fate for their payday- they depend on the cows they raised, the calves they produced, the bulls they purchased, the weather and the markets for the outcome of their payday. They are guaranteed nothing. It is a good thing for those of us who like to eat (ahem), that there are ranchers and farmers who are dedicated to this trade.
I was raised in town, albeit it Medora, so I became a rancher by marriage and knew pretty much nothing about ranching when we moved to the ranch in 1979. ( That's a lot of "ranch" in one sentence, but it is what it is.) I had a job at a bank in Medora and drove there daily, and was busy setting up a household and raising two kids as well, but when the kids grew up and left this momma home alone with dad, my ranching college education began in earnest.
I often thought to myself, as I was helping pull a calf, load portable corral panels, haul feed out thru snowbanks, drag home half frozen calves, spread scoria around a watertank, and many other daily chores, that, " this was not what I went to college for!"
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," they say, and so it was with me. I have survived all my ranch wife adventures so far and know far more about ranching and cows than I ever wanted, but I can now proudly say, that I think I am a pretty good hand on a four wheeler! My husband and son may disagree, but when I am on the four wheeler, I can't hear them!
In my opinion, four wheelers are one of God's greatest gifts to ranchers, or at least to rancher's wives! Once I got comfortable on my four wheeler, I was a force to be reckoned with. But it also gave me more duties, checking and fixing fence, checking water tanks, dealing with reprobate cattle, watching for cows and heifers needing help during calving and on and on.
I love four wheelers for ranching for two major reasons. The first is that I cannot hear yelled instructions and insults when I am on my four wheeler and the second is that the naughty cows will get tired before my four wheeler and my stubborn disposition do.
This past week I participated in two roundups. One was with four wheelers and one was with horses. I was a worker in the first and an observer in the second. Both went extremely well; one was faster and one was, perhaps, more beautiful, but both accomplished their purpose and the circle of life goes on.
This is how I participated in the first roundup and my buddy on the back is Pepper, my grandkids' dog. She loves to ride the four wheeler and help chase cows!
This is the second roundup of the week, very beautiful, but I would be no help at all mounted on a horse. Kudos to those of you who can and do, but I prefer to ride something without a mind of its own!