Through the ages and at some point, every man learns the wisdom of not comparing his wife to his mother. Usually.
In the world of ranching, that lesson is no different nor is it learned with any less difficulty or any greater speed. The learning curve is often fractured by the reverse of the situation—when the cowboy has married a ranch-raised gal that grew up working right alongside the men of the family.
Not one ever known for being open to new ideas, especially if they weren’t his own, a rancher’s times of high stress, worry and life-or-death concern magnify that situation exponentially.
The record-setting drought along with the record-setting fire danger has put the aforementioned emotions in raw form.
Somewhere along the way, many a Mr. Husband Rancher will get the idea he is the only one worried, like it’s his job alone. He might exhibit signs of being a little resentful about that but he also wears it like a coat of arms.
His wife, whose life’s existence depends on the same source as his, knows the signs as well as he. She rarely, if ever, gives up the hard-learned lessons of her rural roots.
Life changing decisions will need to be made, and soon.
The discussions that follow vary only in the terms of partnerships that have been established over the years. However, this crossroads of planning is not the first time he and she have met at the kitchen table, the corral gate or the saddle house to discuss methods of doing business or techniques appropriate to the moment.
And, the “discussion” (sometimes involving some serious hollering mingled with a cuss word or two… or nine) is not always over something so serious as cutting herd numbers, buying high-dollar supplemental feed or maybe just getting out of the ranching business.
Not latching a gate as deemed “the way” by Mr. Rancher is a good example of a situation. It is every bit as inflammatory as deciding if a certain old sweetheart of a cow should be given the grace to die of old age at the ranch or take a ride to the sale barn.
The wife’s get-even for either situation will be to hereinafter latch it the “wrong” way every time just to aggravate him. After all, latched is latched.
His thought is always that his idea is born of brilliance and/or experience and that her only knowledge is “because her daddy did it that way.” If “Daddy” comes up in the conversation, the process goes south from there.
Should a fellow rancher make a suggestion about an identical topic, Mr. Husband Rancher will consider it with some dedicated thought. But if it’s the wife idea, it’s always a fight.
“And,” he said, “her hands end up on her hips as she tells me, ‘Well let me tell you Mr. Rancher, something that you apparently haven’t yet considered…’ And that’s where the fight begins.”
Of course, it is also not a good time for him to mention his mother’s cooking.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.