In general, men have a built-in gene making them masters at forgetting to mention important details that often dictate the outcome of a situation, up to and including the moment they could lose their lives or an important part of their anatomy.
The obvious incidents include forgetting to mention the existence of a wife, or some wild tale about why they didn’t arrive home until the day after they were expected. However, cowboys specifically have those as well completely different types of “Did I forget to mention that?” stories.
Ranch stories of this nature will sometimes involve a simple request to the wife along the lines of “Could you go get our black bull out of the neighbor’s pasture today?”
What the head cowboy may have forgotten to mention is that once she finds the black bull in the four-section brush pasture, she will likely have to break up a fight between him and the neighbor’s resident bull.
Then she will have to persuade the black bull to prefer leaving the neighbor’s young heifers so she can drive him back to his ranch home. On the way out, she’ll have to repair the fence that he tore up running away from home.
Being a sensible wife, she will know that the black bull, which is usually cooperative, will need to come to the pens at the headquarters, to discourage the same scenario from happening all over again.
These kinds of projects are common to the status of “ranch wife” who is not usually surprised by the omission of finer details of the request. Instead, a fair amount of get-even plotting will occupy the span of time it takes for the ride over to the neighbors, as well as the return trip.
When calves are shipped from the ranch, a permit from a state brand inspector is part of the process. The inspector in this case was about 5 feet tall and wore a pistol that came down almost to his knees. His demeanor indicated that he failed to recognize he was not God.
The ranch boss asked his wife to go help the brand inspector count and sort the calves, penning the heifers and steers separately. The calves, at one end of a long corral alley, began to file by the little woman so she could determine their male or female status before directing their destination.
As the calves peeled away from the bunch, their speed of departure picked up, making the “viewing” considerably more difficult. The brand inspector suspected he would have to come to her rescue.
The cowgirl wasn’t the least bit nervous about this assignment, and expeditiously called to the inspector, “In,” for the heifers and “By,” for the steers. A couple of hundred calves were sorted very quickly this way, with no slowing of the steady stream of cattle down the alley.
When it was all done, the inspector told the cowgirl he’d never seen anybody, male or female, sort cattle that quickly. What he had failed notice was that all the heifer calves were specifically earmarked. To make her call, all she had to do was glance at their heads as they came toward her.
She figured it was information he didn’t particularly need, so she “forgot” to mention it. Thereafter, she enjoyed a reputation as a very astute and competent cattle woman. No mention was ever made that she shared the same “forgetfulness” indicative to the male species of her profession.
That quiet fame happens a lot at the ranch.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.