Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nothing But The Truth

I was emailed an article from the Prairie Star the other day, and I just had to share it.  This article is so honest and true that I got the giggles and kept nodding my head at everything this author wrote about.  It was like she had visited my house and then wrote a story about all the crazy things she saw!  The article is entitled Ranchwife's housekeeping modified for calving season.  The author, Erin Slivka, sure has a way of words and describing ranch life!  Enjoy

Ranchwife’s housekeeping modified for calving season

As I was attempting to tidy up the house the other day, I looked around and realized that not every woman lives like this. I belong to a special sisterhood of women who have a jug full of colostrum in the freezer. I didn’t bat an eye when my husband came in from the barn and set a large pitcher of frothy yellow milk next to the coffee pot on my kitchen counter. 
After all, this is a house that usually has an enormous rubber nipple air drying next to the sink and a bottle of Banamine in the butter compartment. When doing the supper dishes, I shove aside the vaccine gun and stomach tube that are drying in the dish rack.

In the bottom of the washing machine, among the Legos and hair barrettes, I frequently find a copious amount of straw beneath the load of jeans. My dryer’s lint trap is accustomed to collecting those little green castration rings. I’m always sure to check the shirt pockets before they go into the washer, though. The calving book must be removed and protected as if it were the Holy Grail.
While it’s not unusual to see a few pairs of mucky coveralls in the porch, the worst of the dirty laundry often hangs on the deck railing, waiting to be hosed off before it enters the house. When the stench of muddy manure emanating from the muck boots in the porch starts to overpower the smell of fresh bread baking in the kitchen, I know it’s time to throw open the windows and air it out, even if it’s 20 degrees outside.
Since I’ve lived on a ranch nearly my entire life, I am accustomed to this modified version of housekeeping. I know the secrets to removing ear tag marker from the wall and newborn calf slime from jeans.
But to a person not used to this particular lifestyle, our habits may raise an eyebrow. The FedEx deliveryman is probably baffled at the collection of dried placentas that our dog has stashed in the corner of our yard to be gnawed on like jerky. We know it’s a special treat for him because he keeps it right next to the deer leg that he salvaged last fall after hunting season.
We don’t often leave the place during this time of year, and when we do, it’s difficult to switch out of animal husbandry mode. In honor of the rare trip past the end of the driveway, I try to replace my manure splattered sweatshirt with a nice clean version, and I usually substitute a clean ball cap for my wool ear flapper cap that is a critical component of my calving uniform. With a nod to my delicate feminine nature, I even brush the ground feed out of my ponytail and wash my face.
More than once this season I have caught myself heading to the car with a sorting stick in my hand. It has become second nature to grab a stick on the way out the door to fend off any overprotective mama cows who see a bullseye on my rear. And although I try to leave all thoughts of cattle behind me, the other day I caught myself describing my sick child as “off her feed.”
Rejoining humanity is difficult when we have spent weeks living with cows. Being a multitasker, I cannot stand at the kitchen sink without looking out the window for that kinked tail that indicates an imminent birth. I can fall asleep sitting upright when I’m waiting for the clock to roll around for my next check, but I jolt awake when I hear the telltale moo of a new mother, especially if it’s a heifer who thinks a UFO just dropped an alien being in the pen with her as she meets her calf for the first time.
Eventually, life will return to a more normal state. The calving paraphernalia will be shelved, my counters will be cleared, the muck will dry up, and the cows will go to pasture.
But until then, if you happen to drop by, please don’t be offended by my shoddy housekeeping. I promise that I used pasteurized milk in the bread I just made, and I was sure to thoroughly wash my hands before I kneaded the dough.
© 2011 Erin Slivka

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