In a Sow’s Ear
Big Timber, Mont.
Advice for the starry eyed City Woman who marries her true love cowboy/rancher.
Be advised that:
… morning means rising in pre-dawn dark-30.
… coffee is the beverage of choice for all occasions and can be used to grease axles.
… never throw out a battered hat, tattered chore coat or duct-taped working boots
… dinner is a noon meal. Supper is the evening meal. But it’s okay to “go out to dinner” during an evening time, but not during haying, lambing, calving, farrowing, seeding or shipping.
… the window of opportunity for any extra-curricular social activity falls possibly in mid-January or early February ” depending on when calving starts.
… “going out to dinner” is up to the bride. She should make advance reservations at a fine-dining restaurant of her choice. Otherwise, she’ll be eating in the pickup after passing through the drive-through lane of a fast-food joint.
… yes, his hat will remain on his head at the table during the meal.
… never leave a wire gate open at any location on the ranch. If the gate is so tight, it’s impossible to re-close, tie it upright with a piece of bale string as a temporary measure.
… carry a “cheater stick” to close hard-to-shut gates ” an arrangement of chain wired to a piece of hardwood. An old horse hame works nicely.
… practice with the cheater and paint it pink so the spouse will consider it a craft project and thus will gallantly not throw it away.
… learn to drive a stick-shift, a pickup truck, a stock truck and hitch up a horse trailer.
… put a playpen in the space behind the heater stove. This equipment is not for a potential or actual human offspring, but as a place to deposit a half frozen wet calf or a bum lamb or piglet.
… learn how to bottle feed any kind of bum animal.
… on roundups, saddle your own horse first before you serve breakfast. The hands will wait for breakfast, but they won’t wait for you afterwards while you tidy up.
… keep coffee available at all times plus cookies or cake for drop-by visitors.
… kitchen staples: Jell-O, beans, marshmallows, ketchup and Tabasco sauce.
… make Jell-O salad frequently, preferably with shredded carrots in orange flavor, mixed fruit in cherry or pineapple in lime. Serve topped off with a dollop of Miracle Whip or whipped cream.
… after a branding, a country bride may be given an opportunity to clean, batter and deep-fry “mountain oysters” or “prairie nuggets”.
… no guilt is attached to the new bride if she firmly refuses such an opportunity.
… when backing up a horse trailer under the supervision of spouse, be prepared for mystery hand signals and possible reprehensible language.
… when sorting cows and calves in the pens, be alert, be quick, and be prepared for more mystery hand signals and scurrilous verbal communication.
… store vaccines, syringes and other animal medications in the refrigerator.
… if the vaccine bottle drops into the fresh-made Jell-O salad planned for a church potluck supper, do not throw out the Jell-O. Merely sprinkle marshmallows into the dented spots. The church ladies will never know and they’ll have the added benefit of becoming immune to blackleg.
… and always, through the stress of enduring drought, disease, grasshoppers, predators, fire and unforseen disasters, remember that daily applications of hugs, kisses and chocolate cake to your cowboy will keep the love light glowing through thick, thin and rotten market prices.
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