Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Other Man in my Life

With all due respect to the "other" man in my life, I felt I should talk a little about my husband, Matthew. He is 17 years my junior. Ok, now before you start with whatever "cougar" jokes or "cradle robbing" jokes or " you're old enough to be his mom" jokes, you can stop. I have heard most of them. It's ok. I can take it. One good thing about a 45 year old woman who is married to a 28 year old man....she knows she looks old enough to be his mother. She knows she looks like she is robbing the cradle. She knows, ok? But in my defense, how many women do you know who have the moxie to even consider dating a man that much younger, much less marrying him?

But we are a good match. Seriously. He is more mature than I am in most areas. I have not really grown up. I think childless adults never really have to grow up so in many cases, they don't. I am one of those. I believe that saying, "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional". That's me to a T.

Matt is a kind, considerate, albeit sometimes moody wonderful person. He loves me in spite of my terribly goofy, sometimes horribly hormonal, workaholic, never-want-to-leave home, put-the-ranch and Dad-before-everything else self. And more than that, he seems to "get" me. Not always, but for the most part, he gets what it is I am about. There aren't a lot of people on this earth that I can say that about. But above all, Matt makes me feel safe. And there are even less people on this earth that I can say that about. I would like to come off to people like I am this tougher than nails woman, who can man handle anything that gets in her way. And while I am extremely capable, I am not always that person. And Matt accepts me. Whichever person I am that day.

He is a diesel mechanic, which, if you know anything about ranching, stuff is always breaking down. So a very un-mechanical person like me is wise to have someone like Matt who can fix stuff. But he's also very good with a horse and a cow and likes working with and using tractors, which I hate. He grew up helping his grandad on his ranch and also worked for other ranchers after school and during the summer. At night, Matt works on locomotives at the railroad in North Platte about 40 miles from our ranch. So he wears lots of hats. Not every guy in the world could handle that, but I'm glad he does.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


My dad was born in 1928. He remembers things back as far as when he was two years old. I think that is pretty amazing. How many people can say they remember something that happened 80 years ago? Dad remembers the Depression, but not like a lot of folks do. One of his famous quotes is, "We didn't have anything, but neither did anybody else. So we didn't know any different." He talks about not being able to buy a car until the war was over. And he has told me on several occasions about being just a boy and going into a bar with his dad and having a beer. Dad vividly remembers the days when he and several other cowboys drove cattle to "Coker" which was a train station where ranchers drove their yearlings to load onto trains for delivery, probably in Omaha. He served our Country during the Korean War as a radioman in the US Navy. And Dad was a rodeo cowboy, riding rough stock in his younger days.

Now days, Dad is still a go-getter. He can and does do more work than most guys half his age. I kid you not...Last summer he built a fence by himself, setting over forty posts with manual posthole diggers in one afternoon. He still ropes and rides and is a damn good cowboy and cowman. He can still ride a buckin' horse, too. You can ask just about anybody around and they will tell you that Jim Doyle has good cattle and knows how to handle them. My dad is well respected by most in our area as an honest man who would do just about anything for anybody.

Lest you think I wear rose colored glasses when it comes to my dad, well, truth is, I just might. But I know the old fart has faults and isn't perfect. For one, he's a bottle ass. If you don't know what a bottle ass is, it's someone that blunders around. I inherited my dad's mechanical abilities...which are none. But I also learned and/or inherited a lot of cow knowledge from my dad, too. My dad hates conflict. He will do just about anything to keep the peace. This is a trait I admired most of my life, but I see now that occasionally Dad allows himself to become the victim in his effort to avoid conflict. I have vowed not to let this happen to me. So I end up shooting off my mouth, much to Dad's embarrassment....I am working on that, by the way.

I see that my dad is not as strong physically as he used to be. In fact, I see that a lot. I am now stronger than he. That is an odd thing for me mostly because all of my life, Dad has been larger than life. He could, in my eyes anyway, do anything. He has always been a very intelligent man, willing to try new things. His mind is still very sharp, but as he likes to say, "he is wearing out, not rusting out." Which means he is using every ounce of his body to work, not sitting around waiting to die. That, I admire tremendously.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Calving time

It's calving time here in the Sandhills. Our production time, if you will. Mama cows are spittin' out babies. It is my favorite time of year. I never tire of seeing the miracle that is birth. I have probably seen and/or assisted thousands of calves born over my lifetime and it just never gets old. One of the things that is most amazing is the way a heifer (a young female that has not yet given birth) starts out the day as a young, dumb, 2 year old and on the day she gives birth, she ends the day as a "Mom". Probably 98 percent of the time, those heifers jump up and start licking that little calf and coaxing it to get up and have its first breakfast. And I never tire of watching Junior, barely out of his mama, starting to try to get up. It is one of those miracles I referred to yesterday. And I just never get tired of seeing it....

There are occasional obstacles that come with calving. The weather is the biggest one. During this time of year, we become very well acquainted with the television weather man. If a snowstorm is moving in, we need to get the cows that might calve in behind cover in the form of cedar tree windbreaks. These windbreaks are a God send during this time of year. I don't know how many calves we have saved because my family had the good sense to plant trees......but I would venture to guess a lot.

A calf can survive just about anything if it has stood and nursed from Mama's good milk. Another amazing thing about cattle. They are tough. And I do mean tough. A calf's instinct is to stand and suck and then to follow. Very shortly after birth, Junior can and will follow Mama just about anywhere if he has had a cup or two of warm milk in his belly. As long as a calf has stood and sucked before a storm hits, you can be almost certain it will survive. So our main concern is turned to the cows that might calve during the storm. We have to rely on the cows to take care of the babies already on the ground until after the storm subsides. Then we do our level best to make everybody as comfortable as possible. During the storm we are checking on the cows that might be calving and making sure any calf born during the storm has the best chance we can give it to survive. Fortunately, most cows are smart. Their instinct is to be out of the wind and take care of their calf. And that is another miracle in itself.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today is the first day

Ok, so it begins....I called my blog "confessions of a (real) cowgirl, because that's what I am. I am a cowgirl in the Sandhills of Nebraska, also known as God's Cattle Country. I am a fourth generation rancher where my great grandfather started with a homestead 100 years ago this year. We do what we do here because we love it. We love the land more than almost anything on this earth. We love the cattle almost as much as we love the land. We will do whatever it takes to save one baby calf......that being said, let me say that I am an animal lover and truthfully, I don't like to think about the fact that eventually someone has to kill and consume the "product" that I worked pretty damn hard to keep alive at some point. But, if someone doesn't consume that "product", I am pretty much out of a job. So, please, if you are reading this....EAT BEEF!! lot's of it.

I don't know if I fit the mold most people would expect when they think of a female in the ranching world. I don't mind getting my hands dirty but I like for them to come clean too. I go to the salon to have my hair cut and colored on a regular basis and I wear makeup everyday. But I am no isn't uncommon for my jeans to be pretty dirty and for me to wear them a second (ok, let's be honest here, and a third or fourth) day. I can cuss like a sailor, but I love the Good Lord and know HE is the reason I am here on this earth and get to do what I do. I thank Him every day for all that I have. Because more than most professions, I see just what He does. I see everyday miracles on a very regular basis. I am likely to quote scripture in this blog, so if you are one of those people that doesn't want to be "preached" at, this might not be the blog for you.....but then again, it might not hurt you to have a read.

My plan for this blog is to tell you a little about my way of life and along the way, give some insight into some of the things that I see in the world. I truly do live a blessed life and I am very, very grateful for all that I have.