This afternoon I ran out to look at the mares and check for any new colts. I always think of Grandpa when I do that. That was his thing. He always drove his 4 wheeler out (in later years) to check mares and come back with a report each morning. Sometimes when I was little, I got to go along if I was awake when he left and we would do a Little Rock hunting while we were out. Well today while I was out I stopped on top and walked around a little. And there it was. A rock with a perfect hole. I’ve been looking for one of those. Grandpa always picked up those kind and put them on his key for the 4 wheeler. “That way no one takes it!” Well. I found one today, Grandpa. Although I think I’m gonna keep this one special... Oh yes guess what I also found?! Two really pretty agates. You definitely would have put them on your deck! They are good ones! There was also 2 new colts! No palominos yet! I got to pet the one colt a bit! It’s always cool to be the first person to touch a new colt! And yes they both had sucked...I made sure they were doing good. 😊 I sure wish you would have been with me today. Shucks, I even cried missing you. It’s selfish, I know. Heaven can’t compare. But I sure would have loved to have you here for a little bit longer. Thanks for everything you gave me. I wish, right now for one of your hugs and handshake... but I’ll keep cherishing the ones I had until I see you again!
I went to a branding today with my brothers to help some good family friends. It ended up that I was the only girl there today out in the pasture and in the corrals. And you know, I never ever once felt that I needed to fight for ‘women’s rights’. I never felt I should push for a ‘place’ or a ‘right’. I never felt like I had to ‘fight’ for anything. I never felt looked down upon for being a girl. I never felt that I had to ‘prove’ anything. And ‘equality’ never entered my mind. (Aside from this post 😉) Was it because it's just not who I am? Or because it's not as big of a deal as it is made out to be? And from the other side... No, I didn’t get everything 'handed to me'. I had a job. I got dirty. I smell like burning hair. I have bruises. I’m tired and I don’t have much motivation to go take a shower.
But today I saw something called respect. Respect for people. For each other. For the job. For the way of life.
I saw people working together for a common goal and that meant doing what needed to be done, when it needed done and everyone working in the position at which they were best. I never saw someone “too good” for something. And I never saw someone not try their very best no matter the occasion. I never heard anyone complain that they would rather do this or that because it made them look better. And I never heard anyone say that they weren’t being treated fairly or equally.
You know what? I had the thought that maybe it’s just because it’s the way we do things out here in South Dakota and maybe it is! But I actually believe it’s the way it’s done all over America yet. (Ok there might be a few places that these things don’t shine though...) But you know what I’m pretty sure of? America is still a good place! That the main stream media and too many people in “high places” (because we put them there, I might add! And by high places I don’t mean Politicians) say only the things that they are pushing for the purpose of proving their agenda. I fully believe that what you hear the most.... you will start to believe. You know what you’ve been hearing and I’m pretty sure it’s not the same as you just read that I witnessed in this day. We need to talk about the good. We need to talk about the values that this Country still holds too. We need to talk about the foundations that we were built upon. We need to talk about real people and real life. We need to talk about the work. We need to talk about the joys. We need to talk about times like when I got back to the branding pen, I was given my old job back so I didn’t have to wrestle if I didn’t want to... I took it gladly and appreciated it! And we need to talk about how men and women still work together and value each other for what they do. Not because we need to push to be equal, but because we can thrive because we are different. We need to Talk about how the world goes ‘round because of men and women doing their part. Don’t get sidetracked by the petty stuff.
This is still a great Country. And I pray you stop listening to the lies you’ve been told. Fight for truth! The next generation depends on it.
So thank you Dobesh Family for letting me come and spend a fun day working together doing the things that I love! And thank you to all the Guys that I got to work with today and for making it a good day.
Now maybe I’ll go to bed because I need to check cows at 2:00 and As of right now I don’t know if I’ll wake up to my alarm! Oh yes...My dad offered to check for me last night and I was very grateful! And no I wasn’t offended!
We have a cow. A Hereford With horns that wrap around A big framed, well weathered mama. That I claimed a friend in the corral.
She lost her number And we didn’t know How old or who she was So during this here story I named her “Mama cow”.
A couple years ago, she calved And had a nice little bull! But his legs never worked right and he was lame right from the get go.
So I started milking Mama Cow in the chute there by the barn. Bottle feeding the calf... Morning, noon and sunset For weeks it seemed I tried.
She got to know me pretty good. And Mama cow and I, We had an understanding. And she liked me I think in time.
She got to where I didn’t need the chute I just found her in the corral. She’d let me milk her and just stand there. And she rarely did ever make me spill!
She knew that I was trying To help her little calf But he wasn’t getting better And he died even though I tried my best.
I didn’t want to quit my old friend So I kept her milking then Hoping maybe we’d get a calf and then maybe we could graft!
The years went by and more calves she raised. She did a dandy job. And she never quite forgot me. As I scratched her favorite place
The corral, the pasture. It really didn’t matter. She was always waiting. But she’s definitely getting older and I can see it in her eye. The Dakota prairie has taken its toll. And this winter has sure been long.
Well this fall she came up Open. And I was sad to see. I didn’t want to sell her! My old friend. It couldn’t be.
Then Dad said. “Keep her.” He knew and Understood. “We’ll let her live out her days on the ranch” he said. She’s earned it for sure.
So I kept her in this winter. Fed her a little special. She’s getting grain and scratching . And a nice warm place to lay!
Well this morning I was finishing up feeding. And found her laying there. She’d gotten pretty sick last night. Now stretched out and having hard time breathing.
We sat her up as best we could. And I had tears on my face. So I kneeled and scratched her favorite place. And hoped that maybe she’d pull though.
I think I know she won’t though. Tonight is looking not nice at all The temperatures is dropping and calling for ...45 below.
So I think we’ll have to go out and do the hardest thing. Nothing lives forever. And ranchers hearts do break.
She’s special. Mama cow. God gave her to us to provide But the lump in my throat won’t leave. Yes. I know... “she’s just a cow”
The hardest thing about ranching. It’s not the daily battles. It’s not - not being rich with money And it’s sure enough not the cold.
It’s the animals we care for The ones we call our own The livestock that surrounds us That God gave us - on the hills to roam.
For as with everything in life. There is death as well. And our responsibility comes hard sometimes. But character demands this call.
So I’ll say Goodbye to “my” old cow. She lived a happy life. She brought me joy and smiles. And I’m thankful for this time.
And one thing I most definitely know. I’d want to live no other way. And Thank You, God for the lessons... I learned from “Mama Cow”.
Today I walked into the house and found my little sister, Kiersten, writing in her little calving record book. She has faithfully been copying from mine which cows calve when and what they had! I was so proud! The other day she designated a special page for her cats! And so today she was writing down what cat had just had kittens and how many she had! She was pretty excited! “At’ta Girl” I told her! She smiled pretty big as she has been waiting for these kittens for quite awhile now!
Well later this afternoon I found Kirsten digging a hole up by “The Tree” and with a few carefully hidden tears she was burying 2 of the new kittens. Something had happened and 2 were dead and the other 2 were no where to be found. I knelt down and said “I’m sorry, Kiersten”, and helped to dig a hole. I knew that her tender heart was hurting and I understood. We buried the kittens and Kiersten carefully laid rocks over the little grave. “Thank You" she said and then picked up her bucket and shovel and we walked away.
Something that a ranch kid learns early on in life...If you’re going to have, you are also going to lose. We can do all that we can to help our animals, but life still happens and with life comes death. And no matter how many times we have to go through this lesson…it still hurts. Every time. Whether it is a new baby calf that just wasn’t ok from the start, or an old cow that should have gone to the sale barn a few years ago…that weathered many storms and droughts and faithfully raised a big calf every year, but she can no longer get up on her own… and someone has to go and do what no one wants to do. A goat that dies in your arms or that best saddle horse that taught you so much about life. It hurts every time. And sometimes we cry. Because we love what we do and we want to do it to the best of our ability. We love our animals and want them to live the best life that they can. Its okay. It’s the life we are blessed to live and we wouldn’t want to do anything else. Kittens or Cows. Horses or Chickens. A lesson from when we are young…that we are still learning each day. Life. Death. Try. And Try Again.
Ever since I was little there has been something about the 'night check' that has intrigued me! Dad would put on his boots and coat and gloves and head out into the dark of night to check the cows. When I got a little older I got to sometimes go along on the 10:00 check! It was scary and exciting as dad would carry the big flashlight and the spooky things were always just outside the beam of that light. But as long as we were with dad. Everything was fine. Once in awhile when after helping something or while waiting on a cold night for a new life to arrive we would sit inside and eat crackers and milk before heading back out to check again. And oh how cool on those nights when dad would wake us up so we could go along on the 2:00 check! It was on these night walks that I learned about the stars and snowflakes in the yard light! Then we grew up some more. And the 10:00 check became our check! Oh remember when "Browneyes" was calving and after 1/2 hour we were just sure she was having trouble! We told dad and he reassured us to give her a little more time. "Are the feet up?" He would ask "I think so" was our reply... and sure enough... a few minutes later there she was. A beautiful little calf! Now the night check is 'my check' and tonight as I felt my way downstairs through the dark there was my dad..."I been waiting for you!" He said, "I'll go with you!" And even though tonight I was the one that carried the flashlight on that walk through the cows... everything was ok... Because Dad was there.
I have looked forward to 'Branding Day' every year for as long as I can remember, and on this Memorial Day I felt extremely blessed and thankful that I can do the things that I love along with family and friends in the freedom of America.
Branding is about a tradition that has been a part of the American West for many decades and the pride that goes along with that and the ranching way of life is not something to be taken lightly. God has given us the responsibility to take care of the land and the livestock that He has entrusted to us and to do it to the best of our ability.
Branding our cattle is a part of that.
Sometimes we do it in the mud and sometimes we do it in the midst of a drought. But every time we do it trusting that God will provide and that He will see us through to the next year and the next day that it is Time to Brand The Calves.