By Summer McMillen
We work cattle a lot here on the ranch, whether we are moving them to new pastures, branding or weaning. There seems to be a different “event” for every season that our lives revolve around. In September we are preparing to wean the calves from their mamas. This is my favorite job because I love to watch the calves congregate in their little herd. It is almost like they are school kids and are just in recess for the rest of the winter. We feed them daily and watch them grow into big stout calves that we are proud to sell come January. They look like they are beefing up for a big boxing match. Which, they kind of are if you consider fighting one another over the best spot in the feed bunk line a boxing match.
What I have noticed when we work calves is that we all work at different paces, in different spots, and on different types of horses. When we gather, I like to be in the middle so that I have someone to fix my mistakes on either side of me. Is that something I am proud of? No. Am I going to change the way that I am? Also no. My husband likes to be in the lead because he knows how to let the cattle tell him where to be. And also because he is the boss. The end.
When we are running the cows through the chute, whether I like or not, I punch up the cows with my handy and dandy hot shot. It is true that I have been punching up cows my whole entire life and have hated it since day one. Can we talk about pressure? I set the pace for the day and that is entirely too stressful for me to think much on. But, here lately I have found great power in my hot shot. It is a tool of the trade that gets things done. When I was pregnant and still punching up cows despite my ever growing belly, it became the household joke that that was my hot shot and no one else’s. I became extremely emotional if anyone else touched it and might even be prompted to use it on you. That’s all I have to say about that. My husband runs the squeeze chute and does it very efficiently, never missing a cow or a dosage. Should we nominate him for president 2021?
When we are picking our mounts for the day, I tend to choose a horse that is sure footed, calm natured, and numb sided. I might as well be riding a large dog, but I know that if I choose one with these qualities, he will keep me safe and help me get the job done. When my husband picks a horse out, he usually goes for a colt that is quick footed, a little flighty and a little humpy. Apparently, the more nerve-racking one is to ride, the faster they get the job done. To each his own.
While we might be very different in the way we choose to get the job done, at the end of the day the job gets done. Working with my husband is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. I mean sure, we have our moments. Just the other day I told him that I was a grown *explicit* woman and could ride whichever bridle I wanted to, and he responded by saying that that was the last time he was going to help me, and then we went on to move cows together, eat lunch together, and decided to have another baby.
It takes all kinds of kinds. Whether you are the fast thinking-fast working kind, or you are the slow and steady kind, just be sure that at the end of the day you are the kind that gets things done.
Read more in the September issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch magazine.