For better or worse
Those of us out there that are married have vowed to love our significant other for better or worse. If you have been around cows, you know that “or worse” usually involves working cattle with your spouse. Throughout my years of marriage there have been a few of these moments, looking back on them they make for entertaining stories. The other night at a high school basketball game, a friend and I began sharing some of these stories with each other and I felt compelled to share a few with you dear readers. All the stories are true, or as true as they were when they were told to me.
Richard was a rancher and custom harvester who made his home with his wife Emma along highway 94 east of Rush, Colo. Richard smoked like a freight train and cussed like a sailor. He had a larger-than-life personality, and a tendency towards stubbornness as all men do. Emma was a saint by any standard. She cooked for harvest crews, kept the home running, and helped with the ranch chores. One spring morning when the frost was coming out of the ground, Richard decided it was time to move the feed bunks around in the corral. The corrals were a mixture of mud and manure on top of a layer of icy frozen ground. This ice had the bunks frozen to the ground. What was supposed to be a simple chore was turning into an all-morning affair. To speed up the task Richard hooked a chain from his pickup to the frozen bunk. Emma stood behind to watch and make sure the chain stayed taught. The motor roared and the tires spun. Mud and muck flew but the bunk didn’t budge, however the stream of profanity and the line of soiled clothes from the corral to the house told Richard that his help hadn’t approved of his ill thought plan.
Loading cattle on a trailer is simple enough unless the bovine is looking for a fight instead of an open gate. A ranching couple in northern Crowley County, Colorado, had finally had enough of a bull who thought the cows on the other side of the fence looked better than his own cows. They managed to capture the bovine Romeo, only to have him get on the fight. No matter how hard they tried, this bull would only chase after the wife rather than look for the open trailer gate. Soon enough her husband hatched a plan. He went and opened the door into the nose of the gooseneck trailer. The unwilling, but fleet afoot bride stepped into the alley where she caught the attention of the bull. With a bellow and a paw of the ground he gave chase. The poor bride ran like she was in the Olympics and dove into the open nose and closed the gate behind her as the bull ran stride for stride into the trailer. Her husband quickly latched the gate and checked to see if his wife was OK. It was at this moment the bride realized she was going to make a 50-mile trip to the sale barn in the nose of that trailer. I don’t know about you married men out there, but I would have ridden home with that mad bull in the cab of the pickup before I wanted to face the wrath of a woman who went 50 miles on bumpy dirt roads in the nose of a cold stock trailer.
Tagging calves can be a dangerous task. New calves that are just getting their legs can be the fastest critters on God’s green earth. Add on to that an over-protective mother who wants nothing more than to defend her pride and joy, things can get western. One day about three years back I had one such mother. I called my beautiful bride for help tagging as I knew that the cow was not one to bluff. I told Breanna that I would rope the calf from the back of the Ranger, and when I had him loaded in the bed she could drive off and let me tag him free from bodily harm. Things were going just perfect, right up until the minute my bride forgot to wait for me to get the calf loaded before driving off. With the calf halfway in the bed she put throttle to floorboard and rolled me, the calf, and everything in the bed of that Ranger onto the ground right in front of Satan’s four-legged sister. After catching my breath and running for my life I am sure I could have rivaled Donald Duck for one of his angry rants. My bride was kind enough to beat the cow away with a stick, though she couldn’t offer any kind words for laughing so hard.
Nothing seems to strengthen a marriage more than challenges when working together. At the end of the day be thankful for your other half and appreciate that they are willing to work with you. Sometimes the best stories come from the most difficult moments. That’s all for this time. Keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire and God Bless.
Meinzer is a fourth-generation rancher raised on the southeastern plains of Colorado. He and his family live and ranch in Oshkosh, Neb.