Mad Jack Hanks: Tales from the O-NO Ranch 3-26-12
After reading Gwen Petersen’s recent column in the Fence Post about the Department of Labor trying to put the big WHOA on what chores farm and ranch kids may or may not do around the farm and ranch I paused to reflect and ruminate on the matter. I think it’s sad enough that our young boys are, in my opinion, being turned into sissies so much of the time due to political correctness that we need to say something about it.
I also find it interesting that young girls in some places are joining fight clubs and try to pull each other’s hair out and maybe some teeth to go along with it to prove how tough they are. Girls and women have always been tough competitors when the need has arisen. I believe we need to teach our kids to be prepared to take care of themselves. I do not like the idea of fight clubs for girls or boys. I do like the idea of self defense classes for young and old.
One of my artist buddies from Texas sent me an old copy of a cartoon book called “Out Our Way.” It is full of cowboy cartoons and stories from the 1920s and illustrated by one J.R. Williams. J.R. was the cowboy cartoonist of his day back in the early part of the last century. In one cartoon he draws a lad of about 8- years-of-age on his pony in a pen full of half wild cows with big horns. The boy has his rope tied to his saddle horn and is swinging his loop. Dad is in the corral sorting cows and mom is on the fence and she screams at her husband, “What if he catches one with that rope tied to his saddle?”
Dad calmly replies, “Well, he’s got to learn to take care of himself sometime!”
That most likely was the way most ranch kids were raised back then. I’m sure that is still the norm for a lot of farm and ranch kids today. It’s obviously not the first time this lad has been on a horse around a bunch of cows or his first time to swing a rope. He has some idea even at his age what he might be in for.
My mind wanders back to our ranching days in Texas running several thousand head of yearlings on wheat pasture. Our kids grew up in the saddle and they cherished every moment as best I can tell. I would not have made them ride horses and work cattle if I knew that they weren’t having a great time and getting a foundation under them that would serve them well for the remainder of their lives.
There were many times when we would be trying to gather 400-500 head of unruly 800 pound steers that felt the need to pull a run a way and scatter from heck to breakfast before we got them penned. My kids were around 7- and 9-years-of-age and I, for the most part, just had to leave them to their own devises and hope their horse didn’t stumble as the cowboy crew, myself and the kids were splitting a purty fair sized hole in the wind. We were running wide open. I could glance around to see my little ones holding their own. They knew where and where not to be and I have to tell you gentle readers, a dad could not be more proud. When a cowboy sees his child rope and drag their first calf to the branding fire he or she just about bust open with pride.
Farm and ranch kids have always been given many opportunities to get injured around the farm or ranch. Many have. Some have been maimed and even killed. I had a neighbor share with me when he and his wife came home to find their 11-year-old son lying in the corral dead. He apparently tried to jump off the corral fence on to the back of one of the ranch horses and was kicked or stomped. Kids have been killed in the city while riding their bikes down the street. They have been killed while playing an innocent game like baseball. Yes, even some killed by an irate parent for little or no reason at all.
Life is tough. I’ve been there and done that and many of you have also in a more abundant way than myself.
We need to raise decent kids that can think for themselves. We need our kids to have confidence not cocaine or meth. We need them to learn respect if they desire to be respected. I don’t know of a better way to do that than on a farm or a ranch. Do you?
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’ll, all y’all!