Amanda Radke: A Cowgirl’s Perspective 2-13-12
A newborn calf in the bathtub. A handful of nails forgotten in a pair of jeans before being thrown in the wash. Cattle vaccines in the refrigerator. Replacing panels before getting new carpet. Being late for family events because the cows are out. Having to run to town with frazzled hair and no makeup on to get parts. Ranch women have experienced it all; it’s no wonder many haven’t lost their minds. Laughter seems to be the best medicine when dealing with some of the daily challenges on the ranch, and if humour can be found in the worst of scenarios, families can truly enjoy the joys and trials of ranch life.
“Life happens; learn to bounce with it,” says Susie Oberdahlhoff, who was the keynote speaker at the 9th Annual Women In Blue Jeans (WIBJ) Conference, which took place in my hometown of Mitchell, S.D. Susie’s speech was titled, “Kids, Crops, Sows and Cows,” and this Missouri ranch wife shared her humorous stories of life on the farm.
Oberdahlhoff is a city-born preacher’s kid turned farm-wife. Described as the “Erma Bombeck of Agriculture,” she entertained the audience with her wit and wisdom. As an experienced farm wife, mother and preacher’s daughter, her unique sense of humor to share stories of regular every day experiences gave the audience a positive and refreshed appreciation for life on the farm. “Living on a farm is one thing but raising kids on one is another,” says Oberdahlhoff. “Our kids used to call it boot camp, but now they fondly recall memories of working together.”
According to Oberdahlhoff, there are four P’s of prosperity. First, be proud of what you do. Second, be positive about life. Third, be patient; Rome wasn’t built in a day. Fourth, be persistent; keep trying, trying and trying.
“Life isn’t about how fast you run or how high you jump; but how well you bounce. Certainly, in agriculture, we bounce a lot. Growing up, my grandmother told me that life is a bumpy road. When I married my husband and moved to the ranch, I finally understood what she meant. When life throws you bumps, you can either call it quits or you can bounce.”
There are seven things that she keeps in mind to help her lead a good life, and she offered these pieces of advice: First, wake up to a new day. Second, dress up with a smile. Third, look up for heavenly guidance. Fourth, listen up and say nice things to others. Fifth, speak up for what you believe in. Sixth, reach up for something greater. Finally, lift up for someone less fortunate.
“Be proud of what you do. There’s nothing worse than hearing a woman say that she is ‘just’ a farmwife. There are fewer of us around to feed the world, and we need to be proud of what we do! My seven pieces of advice to a better life help me make the most of each day, and I hope they will help you, too.”
Her seasoned wisdom were important reminders for any farm wife, who helps feed chores, raise kids, cook dinner, clean house and do laundry. More than 150 women attended the conference, which featured seminars on health and wellness, homestyle cooking, taxes, insurance and agriculture advocacy.
“Live life to the fullest. Fill your life with experiences, not excuses. And, pursue the things that you want to pursue. In life, we try to please everyone but ourselves, but sometimes we have to put ourselves first. You aren’t just a farmers wife, a parent or a daughter. As we scramble to fill our roles in life, sometimes we lose ourselves. Find what makes you a special woman, and learn to laugh. If we can’t do these things, life is a real struggle. Life is a lot like riding a bicycle; you don’t fall off until you stop pedaling.”
Live, laugh and love seems to be the motto she lives by, and to learn more about Oberdahlhoff and her philosophies, visit her website at http://www.SusieO.com. Keep Susie’s words of wisdom in mind as you’re slopping through snow and mud this calving season. Keep bouncing; it’s the cowboy way.