Monday mornings are a struggle. When you’ve been calving heifers for a month, your social life is a little limited. You don’t go to the movies. You may go out for supper, but you’ll be back home in two hours. If you squeeze in a pinochle game, or two, you have to break it off in a couple hours, win or lose. So, trying to find a column to write is a little hard. But I came across this old one that is pretty fitting for this time of year. Here goes …
I’m kind of like that song that says, “True Grit’s the only movie I’ve understood in years.”
Oh, I used to be a movie guy. Back in the old days of the Empire theatre in Minot. James Bond movies. Westerns. Take your best girl on Saturday night. Not like I had a lot of best girls. I had to travel a couple hundred miles to get a date. Fooled Shirley though.
She thought I had money and cows. All I had was the hat!
Know what I remember best about the movies. The giant cups of buttered popcorn. Real butter. And I mean big cups. That shows you where my heart really is!
But, enough of that. It’s about four o’clock in the morning when I’m writing this. The snow is blowing and the temperature is dropping. It is the first of March. Blowing snow. Dropping temperatures. Mud and ice and slop. That can mean only one thing. It is calving season in the Dakotas.
So, I want to explain a few things to you non-ranchers. If you see a rancher in the grocery store buying baking soda and beef consommé soup, he’s not making meth. He’s doctoring scoured calves. Don’t ask him if he’s opening a restaurant.
If a ranch wife comes in and buys several pair of nylons, she is not going on a vacation. She is buying them to put over calves ears to keep them from freezing. Don’t kid her about growing a couple sizes since last fall.
If you are sitting patiently at a stop sign and a pickup and trailer runs the sign and is pointed towards the vet clinic, don’t call the cops. Call the vet and tell him to get his c-section stuff ready.
Most years, you can start a fist fight by commenting that this snow is sure good moisture. Although after the last couple years of drought, short hay, and dry dugouts, you might be able to slip this comment by this year. At least for awhile.
If you see a rancher with bloodshot eyes and a week’s worth the whiskers, don’t ask him if he has been in a card game. Or just returned from Vegas. Don’t ask him how it’s going. Just smile politely and tell him to have a nice day.
If you are eating in a restaurant, and a rancher with used hay and placenta all over his jacket is sitting next to you, and his wife has on worn-out Carharts and overshoes, and they have a pickup outside the café with a calf in the cab, a dog in the back, a heifer in the trailer, and a note from the bank on the dash … This is important! Do not comment on the high price of beef! People have been killed for less.
When you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Rest assured. You are not the only one up. There is a rancher, or a rancher’s wife, or their kids, pulling overshoes on as you pull the covers back up. And they are wading through the mud and snow, and missing sleep.
And they do it whether calves are thirty cents or a dollar. Whether they are making a hundred dollars a head. Or losing two hundred. They’ll do it tonight. And tomorrow. And next year. Why? Cause they are cattle people.
Order a steak. They are cheap.