Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
The Big Guy is just that– a Big Guy at 6’3″. His father and one brother are even taller. His other brother is just a little shorter. My brothers, nephews, and brother-in-laws are all sizes, but one thing is standard. All these men are men with big hearts. I think they like to think that their goodness is hidden, but it is actually pretty transparent. Just ask the Wild Child. She LOVES her family of big-hearted men. She knows that they will saddle her horse, take her in the tractor, lead her around, and let her be part of just about all of their day. It was very apparent today when she thought one of her uncles pulled into the yard. She looked out the window, turned around smiling, and said “Mom! I think he came just to give me a birthday hug.” Yep– she has these big men pegged as real softies.
It makes my heart smile every time I see one of these big men, or any man actually, show love and tenderness to kids, the elderly, women, and animals. Living in an agriculture community, and being a ranch wife, means that my heart is smiling often. The Bible states “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10). This is the nature of the rancher. The men I know never put their own needs above those of their animals. This is never more apparent than in the springtime.
I love watching the big guy doctor a calf. He is always scratching the calf’s head and ears, and talking to him while I’m measuring medicine doses. Yep– he’s a big softy. I get to watch the men around here stop for the dogs on their way across the yard in the morning to give them a good belly rub. They complain about the cats on the back step, but are quick to give Bootsy (the old momma cat) some petting. We have an old horse, Stan, who turned 32 years old this spring. They might complain about Stan being a pain as he still tries to beat you to every open gate, but then in the next minute they are picking up all the alfalfa leaves off the ground and putting them in a bucket for him because they are easier for him to eat.
Ranchers have spent many, many sleepless nights over the last several months. At our house we have checked the heifers and cows every two-to-three hours 24 hours/day since February 9th. Then all morning every morning during the winter and spring is spent feeding all the livestock, checking all the water, tagging calves, etc. There is always more to do during the rest of the day, and even more still that is waiting to be done– bottle-feeding those that might need a little extra, fixing fence, sewing up a prolapse, doctoring, feeding horses, trying to fix whatever needs fixed, repairing equipment, moving snow, cleaning corrals, sorting pairs, etc. But it is what we do. We care for what is ours– whether it be the land, the animals, our children, our parents, our friends, or our community.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.” Luke 12:6 No matter how big or little, or whether they are being sold for our income or just living out their life on the ranch because they are a member of the family, all are GOD’s creations.We love and care for each and every one. We sacrifice sleep, fun, meals, warm beds, and much more to keep all that is ours safe, healthy, and happy. Such is the life of a ranch wife– and the rancher. We are blessed, and tired, but life is grand.