Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Stockman's Wife: Year Two

When I was about twelve-years-old -- after a long, stressful day of working cattle -- Momma made me shake her hand (she's not much for hugging) and promise her I'd never marry a farmer. 

I made that promise. 
With my toes crossed. 
Instead, I married a stockman.

Well, didn't that turn out well?

A Tribute to the Stockman 
by H. W. Mumford

Behold the Stockman!
Artist and Artisan.
He may be polished, or a diamond in the rough – but always a gem.
Whose devotion to his animals is second only to his love of God and family.
Whose gripping affection is tempered only by his inborn sense of the true proportion of things.
Who cheerfully braves personal discomfort to make sure his livestock suffer not.
To him there is a rhythm in the clatter of the horse's hoof, music in the bleating of the sheep and in the lowing of the herd.
His approaching footsteps call forth the affectionate whinny of recognition.
His calm, well-modulated voice inspires confidence and wins affection.
His coming is greeted with demonstrations of pleasure, and his going with evident disappointment.
Who sees something more in cows than the drudgery of milking, more in swine than the grunt and squeal, more in the horse than the patient servant, and more in sheep than the golden hoof.
Herdsman, shepherd, groom – yes, and more. Broad-minded, big-hearted, and whole-souled: whose life and character linger long after the cordial greeting is stilled and the hearty handshake is but a memory; whose silent influence forever lives. May his kind multiply and replenish the earth.

Let's just skip right to the chase: 

1. Your time is no longer your own. We don't even have children, but on August 10, 2013 I gave up any right to hide in a closet, read Cowboys & Indians and pretend to be busy. 

He busts through the mud room door. 
"Can you throw on some boots and come help? It will only take ten minutes."

This is a trap. 
There is no such thing as ten minute tasks when you're a  Stockman's Wife. 
And unless you have two hours to commit to a "ten minute" favor, don't do it. 
Make something up. Say you're marinating steaks, or something. Say you're on the phone with Direct TV to renew his ESPN subscription so he can watch the Royals. 
Avoid "throwing on some boots" at all costs if you want to get any of your to-do list done. Trust me. 

2. Dinner may be served anytime between 4:00 PM and 11:00 PM. There is no prediction for this. While you're thawing meat, there is no indication of when it will actually be consumed. Now is a really good time to forget anything you remember the quack Dr. Oz saying about timely protein consumption. He's as backwards Bruce Jenner. As you plan a week ahead like your fancy pants Facebook friend does - and publicizes - regularly, just know that your menu will not transpire as her's does. All you can do is invest in great storage containers and a self-sufficient husband who is able to operate a microwave. And for goodness sake: don't resort to the crockpot daily. No one wants to live life on a 6-hour boiled piece of mediocre meat. 

Hey Pinterest. I don't need to know how to recycle my old volleyball t-shirts into a glamping tent.  Show me a way to make a nutritious meal that can be re-presented perfectly 3 hours after it's been first served. You know, right after we get the cows back in. 

3. There is a difference in being lonely and being alone. Stockmen travel. They drive. They sort. They move. They're not much more than cowboys with a far-better connection with cattle than horses. But my goodness, they don't let the grass grow under their boots. This is an important lesson: There is a difference in being lonely and being alone. Being alone is part of the deal. Stockmen travel. They discuss and deal. They promote. They gain miles. Alone time is awesome.
It's during this alone time that the Stockman's wife gets stuff done. Rocking babies or mopping floors or pre-treating jeans or digging out an old hobby or reading a book or - frankly - sleeping. But probably worrying about the Stockman in a peacefully, quiet home. With wine? No question mark needed. 

4. No feed plan is ever set in stone. Right about the time you memorize the chore list, ol' nutritionist decides to switch things up a bit. Half rations become full rations and full rations get mixed with some magic dust. This circus has the likeness of the frustration felt when you get a recipe perfect every third try. Is it worth it? You ask yourself at 5:47 on a Tuesday morning, wearing basketball shorts and a wifebeater with wet hair. Then you remember: If these deals bloat's your fault. Dry erase boards with good instruction become a dear friend of the Stockman's wife. 

5. Functional gifts are the best gifts. This becomes very real, very quickly. So long, diamonds and massages. On our second Christmas the Stockman gave me four pairs of work gloves: one for every season. I could not have loved it more. It made me think of the half-truth promise I made Momma years ago; I think I ended up right where I hoped to be. It was an invitation to work side-by-side daily. And an invitation to get a load of work done while he was on the road.   I've learned that a Stockman will note gift ideas  year-around. Things I need. I tend to purchase gifts the week (3 days) before the occasion. 
I happily work at the local co-op.  What would I have done with a diamond pendant, anyhow?..................

6. You will learn to run. And no, not for fitness. You and I both know I only run if I'm being chased. You will learn to run to the parts store. To the dry cleaners. To the vet to pick up something you need after running all over God's green earth to get the unruliest heifer on the farm in, alone. You'll run buckets to thaw frozen pipes and run bailing wire where it's needed most: a gate. 

Forget the sunshine and rainbows when you marry a Stockman. You're more likely to encounter rain clouds over hayfields, pink eye in your favorite cow and poison ivy in the most inconvenient places. Plus many mornings to see the sky before the rest of the world, late nights working as the crickets sing and sun burnt skin with a story to tell. 

And that tacky little burn line will lead me right in to next week's blog. 
Stay tuned. 
And pass the aloe. 

To Read about the original Stockman's Wife, go here. 

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