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‘Newbie’ farmers’ tales

I guess the inexperienced farm wife who wrote what follows must have seen my column and decided her story about learning the ins and outs of farm life the hard way might be a “learning read” for other “country newbies.” 

So, I’ll let her tell her story in her own words: “Ummm, let’s see. When city folks move to the country, it’s really hard to pick out the stupidest thing they do out of so many to choose from! 

“For starters, we immediately got horses because that’s what people in the country do. Never mind that one was unbroken and neither one of us could ride well. I spent about a month with a 85-year-old real cowboy training the wild one. The old geezer couldn’t ride — only supervise me. 



“The horse was finally rideable, but real spooky, and would run off with the rider hanging on for dear life. I gave that one to hubby. One lovely evening, we rode off into a colorful, pastural sunset and, predictably, the horse ran away with hubby. I sat on my gentle old bay and laughed and laughed until I saw them running full speed right at us. Hubby, hanging on like a monkey, thought the horse would stop before it got to us. 

“It didn’t. The crazy nag center punched my horse and knocked me off. Hubby went off backwards. Neighbors saw whole thing. That story made the liar’s table at the local cafe by next morning. Everyone was grinning when we walked in. 



“Then there was the time hubby got pickup tailpipe up against a round bale of hay and caught neighbor’s hay on fire. 

“We built sheep pens for daughter’s show lambs, but put the panels upside down because we didn’t know stock panels had a bottom side and a top side to keep varmints out and the sheep in. 

“Neighbors still gather round to watch when it’s time for us to work cattle. Now that’s a gossipy treat for the whole community! Hubby always starts off by telling me that I’ m the hired hand and he’s the ramrod. Yeah, right. That’s just before about everything goes south around the squeeze chute — you know, upended vaccine bottles, syringes dropping into fresh manure, mashed fingernail, escaped calves, new cuss words

“But, in spite of all our mistakes, we are learning — and loving it. Country living is great and we have made some really good friends who are always willing to help with advice or even pitch-in with muscle as the need arises.

“As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously and can still laugh at the mistakes you make, there is always something to learn — and profit from. Next time will always be better. 

“Had one gratifying new experience recently. Some new urban folks moved in nearby. Nice folks with a lot to learn, just like we did. What was nice? They actually thought we were old hands and we were able to help them out.”

*** 

Three hired cowhands in Oklahoma, one a full-blood Native American, had been riding the range since early morning. They were busy gathering cattle for shipping. So, there had been no time to eat at noon. 

Toward the end of the day, two of the cowboys started talking about how famished they were. They went on and on about the huge meal they’d planned to eat when they finally got to town. 

One cowboy paused and asked the Native American if he was hungry. He shrugged and quietly said, “Nope.” 

Later, when they all got to town, all three ordered huge dinners. The Native American proceeded to devour everything in front of him. The other two reminded him that less than an hour earlier he had told them he wasn’t hungry. 

“No need being hungry then,” he replied. “We had no food.”

***

Ol’ Nevah and I took the opportunity to get our fourth covid vaccination last week. It wuz the second recommended booster after the two initial vaccinations at the start of the pandemic. No problems with any of the shots, so far.

***

Well, Nev and I took the big downsizing plunge yesterday. We signed a contract with a builder, giving his company the go-ahead to start the initial phase of building us a new “old-timer’s stairless” slab home. It’s not the best time to be building a new home, but we decided it wuz “now or never,” because “never” is approaching way too fast. Wise or not, the build is launched and it’s bound to be a memorable and expensive late-life experience.

***

Speaking of downsizing, my ol’ Platte City, Mo., buddy Canby Handy and his wife May Bea Handy, joined us for a round trip to Lubbock, Texas, to deliver copies of all my columns — and a bunch of other “life stuff” — to the Southwest Collection archive library at Texas Tech University. 

I’ll get into details of our “mini-vacation” trip next week.

***

Until then, here’s a few words of wisdom to ponder for the week. “Ignorance is like a gold tooth. It’s best displayed when your lips are flapping.”

Have a good ‘un. 

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