I personally find ranch life fascinating. And it’s not something everyone will get to experience in their lives – though we do try to give folks the opportunity here at our ranch.
I got thinking the other day, and decided the next best thing would certainly have to be stories from other ranch girls, right?
Which lead me to start asking other women I admire for their stories! And in thinking ahead, as I’m known to do, I believe that these stories should eventually find their way into a book – a book full of stories of courage, hilarity, sadness, life lessons and the gritty, brave, insightful women that have lived them. And if anyone should steal my idea, I shall hunt them down and beat them. I jest. Sort of.
So without further ado, I bring you the first “Tuesday’s Tale” written by an awesome woman, Cheyenne Glade Wilson. Cheyenne is an enrolled Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, is a rancher, wife, mother, business owner, cowgirl, and poet/writer. As a 4th generation rancher, Cheyenne was born and raised on her family’s ranch in Southeastern Montana and spent much of her young life in the rodeo arena. School and other interests took her to various cities throughout the country where she furthered her knowledge of retail business. After climbing the corporate ladder for several years, Cheyenne realized her heart remained rooted in her ranching background, and returned to carry on the family tradition. Cheyenne and her husband, Shane, run their cow/calf operation on the Pine Ridge Reservation near Oglala, SD. They are thrilled to be raising their son, Stone, in the same lifestyle that they were blessed to grow up in.
Calving season is almost upon us down here on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Looking back through the years I can think of quite a few mishaps around here. The best ones though are the ones that you can look back on and have a good laugh about. With that said, here’s one that brings a smile to my face.
In the spring of 2005, Shane and I were still in the courting phase of our relationship. We were newly engaged and still learning how to work with one another. Most of you will smile when you read my previous sentence because you know what I am talking about. When you roll your sleeves up and do some nitty, gritty ranch work with someone, you get to know them on a level that you never knew existed. It may even be on a level that you never expected to see, never wanted to see, or wish you had never seen! This wasn’t that extreme, but the outcome definitely let my soon-to-be-husband know that he hadn’t picked out a meek female, that’s for sure!
It was the middle of calving season, we were tired, dirty, and cold. We had been nursing along several calves on milk replacer, but we had been searching for a real cow to put the strongest calf on. We finally got a candidate in the corral. Shane had her haltered and tied short to the fence. She had just lost her calf so our first priority was to milk her out a bit so we could feed an orphan who needed her colostrum (first milk) then we were going to put one of the calves on her.
Well, she didn’t like what we had in mind. She fought around for quite some time. Shane finally grew tired of her antics and got a rope. He got her legs tied (sort of) and yelled at me to come over and hold her tail (which was fed under her closest back leg). This was supposed to keep her from kicking him.
Oh boy…as I look back, I should have known this was a bad idea.
Did I also mention that I was quite scrawny back in those days? Yep, all 120 lbs of me and I truly was a weakling. I took after the job though, and did my best to hold that tail. Shane set about milking her into a bucket. She struggled and fought around, but we managed to get almost half a bucket. Things continued to take a downward spiral as she fought harder and harder. I had to readjust the tail on more than one occasion. Shane knew I was having a hard time holding that tail, but yelled at me, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of that tail!”
Right about then, she kicked, and she kicked hard!
There went the tail.
There went her hoof into the back of Shane’s head.
There I went, knocked on my butt.
There went the milk bucket – all over me!
She managed to scrape me with her leg too, so I had tears ready to brim over.
Shane was hollering and trying to regain his composure. I tried to get to my feet and rescue the remaining milk.
About that time, here her backend came swinging back at me as she tried to fight her way out of the halter. Once again, she knocked me down and as I went I slung the milk bucket at the fence. WHAM!!! Milk went everywhere! Oh man! what a nightmare!
Shane was yelling.
I was crying/yelling back.
The cow was bellowing.
It wasn’t good.
I can sit here and chuckle about it now, but at the time it was far from funny.
Shane still asks why I threw the milk against the fence. I can’t believe he does that! I didn’t “throw” it. I had tripped on a frozen cow pile and it was either the milk or me that went flying! Self-preservation won out that day!
After things settled down, we salvaged a bit of the milk and we managed to get a bit more out of her.
The colostrum had already been set aside so that was saved.
The baby calf got what he needed. The orphaned calf waiting for a mom got what he needed. The cow got a baby (not that she wanted one by then).
And well, we learned what each of us can/won’t do in a tight situation. Whenever we work together to this day there may be yelling, but at the end of the day we can hug each other and know that we are in this together. One way or another we will get the job done, and be able to smile and tell stories about it in years to come!
Be sure you check out Cheyenne’s blog, The Native Cowgirl, and if you’d like to look as cute as I do all winter, and in the summer at barrel races, you’ll need to check out her Cowgirl Swank site as well. Cute, custom caps and other goodies for the cowgirl in each of us can be found there! Let’s show Cheyenne some love and let her know how much we loved her story!
PS. If you’d like to contribute a story to the “Tuesday’s Tales”, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re not a writer don’t worry. I’ve got mad editing skills! Please contact me with your story idea!