Couples That Can Work Cattle Together

I’ve been thinking about an article titled “A More Realistic Set of Wedding Vows for Ag Couples” since I read it last week.  I felt the desire to give my two cents on this subject and since today is J and I’s tenth wedding anniversary the timing is appropriate.

July 10, 2003 was a day that changed my life forever. My boyfriend got down on one knee, popped open a box containing a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. This came several weeks after J called and talked to my Dad about his intentions. September 18, 2004 we exchanged vows on a perfect fall day in Nebraska.

September 18We made promise to be husband and wife. That promise looks a little different today than it did 10 years ago. In our young marriage we have faced challenges and heartache. Along the way we have grown as individuals,  matured as a couple and have learned to work together on a daily basis. Some days our communication skills are excellent and I’m amazed at what we accomplished. Other days we need to review how to talk plainly and listen with understanding. I need to learn not taking every little thing personally. My hair has strands of silver and J is turning gray.

Being a ranch daughter, becoming a ranch wife that works in town and being a full-time at home ranch wife are three different things. There are no handbooks for a woman to read when she chooses to be full-time at home ranch wife. One really doesn’t know what the job totally entails until you jump in feet first and dog paddle like your life depends on it.

September 18

They say a couple that can work cattle together can stay together. Working cattle is the easy part; it’s the behind the scenes activity that demands strength. Cattle working days usually entail getting up really early to get dinner started, make ham sandwiches and a thermos for morning coffee. J double checks the vet box to make sure he has all the supplies needed to work cattle. He also packs vaccine and we handle any other last minute things that need attention. I might add my Rancher has a tough time sleeping soundly before a big day of working cattle.

During the actual gathering and working cattle there is usually an adequate amount of help. Pairs are gathered, worked and returned to pasture. In the case that something goes wrong we are thankful for extra help and blessed with excellent family and neighbors to work with. At the end of the day, we are tired, our bodies are stiff and we just want to sit down. When J and I get home we clean up vaccine guns, put away cattle working supplies, clean out the cooler, wash dishes, do chores, get ready for the next day (if we are working cattle again) and deal with any problems we came home to. At this point of being exhausted and dirty, feeling hungry and keeping tongue in cheek is where couples that can work cattle together stay together.

September 18

As every ranch or farm wife has a different experience there are somethings that need no explanation. I find comfort in knowing I am not the only one who struggles. Sometimes a kind smile and twinkle in the eye is all that needs communicated between ranch wives. I will admit, it’s fun to visit with other couples in production ag and share stories about the differences between men and women. Some of our farm wife goof ups can make for a few good laughs.

After 10 years of marriage, and closing in on two years working full time at home, I will say we can work cattle together, we are still married and neither one of us is going anywhere. I do have an advantage as I don’t think The Rancher has the patience to “train” another wife. Give me 10 more years and maybe I’ll have this gig down pat.

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21 Responses to Couples That Can Work Cattle Together

  1. Janet Birky says:

    Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful and true article.

  2. Kim says:

    Happy Anniversary, Robyn and J! Now put THAT on a plaque: “A couple who can work cattle together can stay together.” I love it! I instituted a “no yelling at the help” clause early on in our marriage, and Randy even passed that message on to his Dad. (Randy is among the most patient guys I know, but broken machinery and cattle are two definite stress-inducing pressure points!) I just figured being a farmer’s wife ought to be different than being a farmer’s daughter – more a partnership. It has seemed to work: We’re still plugging away after 33 years.

  3. Buttons says:

    Oh Robyn Happy Anniversary. “couples that can work cattle together stay together”. Oh yes I believe that one 35 years here and after many struggles it does get easier and worth it. HUG B

  4. kerrie says:

    Great blog Robyn, Happy Anniversary to you and J.

  5. Happy Anniversary!

    I am extremely lucky in that I live in a “stress free” zone. Seriously. No one yells (unless it’s so they can be heard over the mooing of pairs), no one gets mad about anything. As long as you’re trying, it’s all good. What will be, will be and there’s no point losing sleep over whether or not the next day’s activities will go well – they will go how they go and we’ll deal with it when it happens. These are among the things we plan to teach with our non-profit to at-risk youth and through corporate team-building using horses and cattle to show people how their body language and attitude can repel or draw others near. I’m glad you shared! Thanks!

  6. Corinne says:

    Happy Anniversary. I am spoiled, as I like working with my hubby of 45yrs. and always together, feel sorry for the wives that have to endure the yelling and never seeming to do things fast enough or in the right place, so what if a cow slips by or a calf gets by, it isn’t like they aren’t still captured and they can be brought in. So much for my thoughts.

  7. Darcy says:

    Awww – I LOVE this blog post. And a very happy, happy anniversary to you two! Ten years is a big deal! I hope you have many more happy years in front of you.

  8. J. Rhoades says:

    Happy Anniversary! I love this post! We can work cattle together but it’s usually not very friendly, but we always make up afterwards and brush it off! Lol.

    • Robyn says:

      Thank You, Miss Jamie.

      One thing I don’t think J and I could do is a major house remodel or build. It has come up in general discussion and puts me in panic mode. I am mellowing to the idea, maybe because I know it is a long long way off.

      Good lucky with your house project.

  9. Cheri says:

    Happy anniversary you two!
    I can totally relate. There are days I yell, ride your own horse. Ha! Or, I’m done. Only once did I ride back to the barn.
    Beside every good cowboy is a cowgirl that makes him look good.
    I like to see a story about couples that do housework together, stay together! Haha, I don’t think there’s one out there! 🙂
    At the end of a long day working cows, Cameron and I always try to complement each other on a job well done. No one got killed and we came home with a smile.
    Cheri

  10. Alica says:

    Happy anniversary!! A hearty “amen” to everything you said in your post! We’re coming up on 21years next month! 🙂

  11. Laurie says:

    Happy Anniversary Robyn!! Here’s to many more years for you and J!

    We do lots of things with our spouses, but you are so right; the ones that can work cattle together, stay together.

    Laurie – Country Link

  12. Kirk Summers says:

    I’ve found that to work cattle properly, one needs two things. These are a big bore handgun and a large roll of duct tape. First, any and all help line up. You, the leader or person in charge, applies a liberal wrapping of duct tape to each person’s mouth going around the back of their head multiple times to prevent anything but a muttered whisper escaping their lips. Next have all help put their arms down against their sides. Apply multiple layers of tape around their bodies and arms slightly about their elbows. This prevents the waving of arms or the use of sticks, whips, or clubs that could frighten or harm the bovines to be cared for. Thirdly, once all employees and volunteers are properly “taped”, extract your big bore handgun from the truck cab. Load it and its cylinder or magazine with the most wicked ammunition available. Now, put any and all so called “cattle dogs” out of everyone’s misery or allow the owners of said dogs time to remove said canines from the premises where said bovines are to be handled. From this point one can quietly work cattle. God Bless!! Happy Anniversary Robyn and J!!!!

  13. Myla says:

    Happy (belated) anniversary! The timing for this post was impeccable, as I was just talking about working livestock with your significant other. I have to agree thought that ‘after the fact’ is sometimes the biggest challenge! Refraining from needling or poking about things that didn’t go as planned is best for everyone’s sake, especially after a long day.

  14. Ahh happy anniversary…10 years, a milestone, and happily working side by side is a blessing. You two are totally committed to making your lives work thru the good and the bad times, that’s what marriage is all about. Congratulations!! Beautifully written.

  15. Bonnie says:

    Happy Anniversary! Kelly and I have been married 10 years and I am forever thankful for him. Your post reminds me of when I was first applying for jobs. A woman told me that ranch experience did not make me qualified to be a to be a waitress. I sputtered and then let her have it. Ranch women have to wake up early get the noon meal in the oven on low, run out saddle your horse, get the cattle in, work the cattle in, while the men wash up set the table and get dinner ready (gravy and such), spend their meal refilling coffee and making sure everything is on, serve dessert, clear the table and get back out there to help the men working cattle. I told her I was more qualified then she would ever find out because I wasn’t going to work for somebody that didn’t respect ranch work. I have never been so offended in my life. Kudos to ranch women everywhere.

  16. Happy (belated) Anniversary to you guys! True partners.
    Congrats on 10 years of marriage, and wishing you all the best in your next decade. I enjoyed this post very much, Robyn. 🙂

  17. Jona says:

    LOVE!! Happy, happy anniversary! It WAS a perfect fall day when you got married. 🙂
    Best wishes for many more happy, healthy years!

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