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Posted 12/09/14 (Tue)


I think most of us have heard that Paul Harvey audio column “So God Made A Farmer.” I think it is best deal about farmers that was ever done. I wish Mr. Harvey had made a column about rancher’s wives.
What got me thinking about this is Shirley’s birthday. She turns 29 again this week. Now it is hard to shop for the woman who has everything. Her coveralls are in pretty good shape. A friend gave her a new pair of wool-lined mittens a week ago. She bought herself a set of those deals you slip on your boots so you don’t slip on the ice when carrying buckets. So you can see why I am struggling.
So this morning I asked her what she would like for her birthday. She usually says she doesn’t need anything. But I’m not sure if she means it. This morning she said she would like a couple of those portable 24-foot windbreaks to put out with her mares! I mean that is a rancher’s wife!
I think it must run in her family. I remember a few years ago, when out with relatives, the talk turned to what women like. We have a lot of intelligent conversations with relatives. One of her sisters said, and I quote, “You want to turn me on, bring second cutting alfalfa!” Now that’s a cowgirl. But I tell you what, we’ve been putting up second cutting every year since.
Ranch wives are a different breed. I don’t suppose there is a ranch wife who hasn’t had an anniversary date, or a vacation delayed, because a heifer was just ready to calf. I imagine everyone has gone through times when they were preparing Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for all the relatives and the sewer backed up. Or the well quit pumping water. Or the propane tank went empty and the turkey was just ready to put in the oven.
I’m not a real planner. Some people will set a date for branding several days or weeks in advance. More than once I’ve told Shirley, “Let’s brand tomorrow.” Or maybe even that afternoon. I can come in with 15 or 20 people for a roundup dinner with little or no notice and she is happy to see them and you would swear she had been planning the meal for a week.
But, back to the birthday. I’m trying to remember if it was our first anniversary, or her first birthday after we were married. I gave her Charlie. Charlie was a two-year-old King bred gelding I had raised. He was a good-looking sorrel gelding that should have been tough as nails and full of cow sense. Oh, but Shirley would look good on this sorrel colt.
Shirley wept with joy at how thoughtful I was. At least I think they were tears of joy. I halter broke Charlie and spent a couple days gentling him down. I put him in the bronc stall in the barn and saddled him. When he backed out of that stall, all hell broke loose! He squealed and blew up in the barn. The barn had about an eight-foot ceiling and the saddle horn was poking holes in it! I quickly got the barn door open and let him outside. He was kicking over his head every jump and the stirrups were clicking together over his back. When he stopped to get his wind, I caught him and pulled the saddle off.
I went up to the house and told Shirley she had one of the best bucking horses in the country. And she did! Charlie went on to be North Dakota Bucking Horse of the Year a couple times.
Now, I’ve got to get this thing figured out today. Tomorrow is the birthday. And I just read this morning that although most women say they don’t want flowers, they really do. So I am wondering if, since I have to go check the sunflowers and see if they are dry enough to combine, if they would suffice?
What the heck? It’s worth a try.
Later, Dean

And Happy Birthday Shirley!