Posts Tagged ‘rancher’

I love my job.

I work for the US Department of Agriculture and I love my job not just because they pay me and I get cool benefits like paid vacation and health insurance (which I really like) but the main thing I like about my job is that I get to visit with ranchers every day.

Ranchers come in all styles and shapes.

There are lady ranchers who are tougher and smarter than any one I’ve ever met,

little old cowboy ranchers who might be 80 years old but they’re still out there when the work needs to be done,

gussy-up’d ranchers with silverbelly hats, polished boots and shiny belt buckles

and ranchers straight off the ranch with mud and manure encrusted coveralls and 4 buckle overshoes.

Ranchers are honest, hardworking people who will give you the shirt off their back – they are good people!

Last week a rancher came in.  He really didn’t have any ‘business’ reason to come see us but just wanted to catch up and see how we were wintering.  We got to talking about a woman we all know and the tough times she’d been going through.  Even though this gal has been struggling lately, she is the type that never gives up and she knows how to get things done.  As we sat and visited at one point the rancher looked at me and said:

“She was twistin’ tail!”

“Say what?”

Now, unless you’ve worked cattle you may not understand this statement or that it is a complement.  It sounds more like something you could get arrested for at Sturgis during the motorcycle rally, but it’s not.

Twistin’ tail is what you do when your moving cattle through alleyways or chutes.  It is a delicate (Not!) maneuver that can get you kicked big time.  The first thing you need to know is you can’t do it half way – jump in with determination and no fear or don’t even attempt it.  You come up behind a calf (always practise this with calves before attempting it with full-grown cows), press your body hard against the backend, grab hold of the tail and twist it up into a furry, manure caked corkscrew and then push for all your worth.

Now when you first do this you will learn several things very quickly:

1.  You will get kicked, so stay close to the calf.  The closer you are – the less it hurts.  When your right up there ‘in their business’, so to speak, they just can’t get the right momentum to give you a good swift kick in the knee cap.  If your backed off from them, even just a little, they can reach right up with their back hooves, kick you in the jaw and drop you to the ground.

2.  Cattle, in general, have no pity.  If they see you go down they will  turn on a dime and run over the top of you to get as far away from the chute as possible.  They will even laugh at you as you wallow around in a foot of mud – they are mean that way.

3.  And finally –  sooner or later what goes into a calf must come out.  Never wear good clothes or new gloves for this and above all do not tuck your pants into your boots – take my word for this.  By the time you perfect this maneuver you will have manure down the front of you, in your face, in  your hair and down your pants. 

One word of warning – if the back-end of the calf is already covered with a slimy, yellowish substance known as scours (or diarrhea) do not attempt to twist that tail.  Use a whip, sorting stick or hot-shot to keep at least 5 feet of distance between you and the backend of that calf – take my word for this too.

“I’m out of here – I like my tail just the way it is – thank you very much!”

I challenge you to use this quote today.  Just see how many times you can work it into a conversation with your hair dresser, lawyer, priest, dentist or just the nice old lady who lives next door.  I guarantee they will either be impressed with your way with words or just walk away with a troubled look on their face.  

Either way you’ll get a good chuckle out of it.


“Humans are so weird!”

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Occasionally I come across quotes that are so worthy – so enlightening –  sooooooo profound that I have the uncontrollable urge to share this wisdom with all of mankind, thereby making the world a better place.

Hey, I do what I can.

The first quote I would like to share was spoken to me by a favorite family friend named Trapper.

The year was 1989.  My husband and I had just brought home our newborn son and Trapper, being a good friend, came to pay homage to the new heir of the family empire. 

Standing there, holding the joy of our lives in his strong, capable and calloused hands Trapper looked down into the face of innocence. 

I gazed on, wrapped in the golden glow of the miracle of life and suddenly at peace with the world. 

 Our precious baby boy was mesmerized by this man and he smiled up into the weathered face of the stranger, cooing in delight as he promptly

 ‘broke wind’ and filled his tiny diaper.

I doubt that I will ever see Trapper at a loss for words and this was no exception.  Somehow he always knows the perfect response to any situation (although his wife would probably disagree). 

Like a divine prophecy dropped from the heavens above, these are the words he spoke:

“A farting horse will never tire,  And a farting man’s the man to hire.”

Now let me begin by saying Trapper is a cowboy.  From the crown of his 30X beaver hat to the tips of his high-topped, hand-stitched, pointy-toed boots, he was born a cowboy and will always be a cowboy and I truly believe that someday someone will find his cold, dead carcass still upright in the saddle, refusing to fall off a horse even in death. 

Now some people might have been appalled at these words.  Some may have been insulted, but coming from a man like Trapper I knew this was high praise and when he said his goodbyes I ran for the baby book and quickly jotted down this profound quote, immortalizing the words for all time.

So the next time your trapped in an awkward situation and at a loss for words, just remember this simple quote and you will be forever known as the fascinating, witty life of the party, just like our buddy Trapper.

This isn’t Trapper but it is one of my favorite photos of DJ and his Great Grandfather Russell who farmed and ranched in South Dakota most of his life. 

Miss you Grandpa!


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