I hope this little girl, that I think is very special, a real cowboys wife, won’t mind me quoting this; it was so beautifully put and a feeling I deeply share.
“There’s something romantic about this way of life, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.It’s a way of life that is so different, and so unique. It’s a way of life I have loved for as long as I can remember.”
Married to a working cowboy means sacrifices. But it’s just the worldly stuff that in the eternities won’t have the least bit of significance for us. There is what cowboys call “the pay that doesn’t come in an envelope” that makes this way of life so special. I call it “the good things of this earth”. No words can describe the feelings. Here, let me try:
My favorite job on the ranch is doing the night check on heifers. I get up a 3:00 AM and get dressed without turning on any lights. Over my pajamas I put my old wool sweater, lined snowpants, an insulated vest, my warmest coat, 60 below Farenhiet big boots, a tooke, a face shield (sometimes if the wind is sharp), scarf, mittens and walk out to the cold barn often through the crunching snow. My horse, that my cowboy saddled for me earlier at midnight when he did his last check, is munching hay or sleeping with one leg calked in my tie stall. My friend and partner nickers when he hears me coming.
I remove his halter and put a hackamore on his head because a cold metal bit would have to be warmed in my already cold hands before I would dare put it in his mouth. We get out of the barn and I do my best to climb on his back (looking and feeling like the good year blimp in all those clothes). He and I ride out of the corrals into the small 40 acres calving field.
Oh ya, I forgot about the flashlight. It’s dark but the sky is spectacular, every constellation crisp in cold air. The only other lights are the Christmas lights, way up at the house. We leave them up till we’re done calving heifers in the middle of April for a little happy cheer on such cold nights. When I see a heifer that looks restless I shine my flashlight on her back end to see if anything is happening or going to happen.
I see stuff and watch her lay down and strain. Yup, she’s in labor. My own belly clinches in sympathetic pain remembering the birth of my own children. My horse and I stand a comfortable distance away and watch quietly. We are sharing this moment of a miracle repeated here, some times two or three or more times, every night. But the wonder of each time always makes me feel . . . (I think the word might be) reverent.
It takes time and I get anxious: Is this taking too long? Is she alright? Is she having any trouble? Will I need to wake my cowboy to come help me help her? Then a something tells me: “Just wait” and I do. I wait for the reward for waking up in the middle of night, for braving the cold, for how tired I will be all day especially after a month of it.
Then it happens; out slips a wet, little, steaming body onto the frozen ground. The cow, if she was laying down stands up and turns around to look. She touches it with her nose and it moves. She seems to get excited and begins to lick and lick and lick. The little head shakes and it’s ears flop back and forth. He basks in the love of his very own mother. It’s all interesting, wonderful to watch but the reward is still to come.
Shortly the nearly dry baby tries to stand; it takes a few tries to figure out 4 new legs. The mother is close and concerned. Then it happens. This animal, this first time mother, makes the sweetest softest sound in the whole dark world. Of course it’s a mooing sound, but not like any other moo a cow ever makes; this is her first word to her firstborn. Every time I witness it my soul takes wings and soars. I’m not sure why, exactly.
My friend and I quietly turn and go back to the barn where I pull his saddle and turn him out to join the herd of geldings. I walk towards our Christmas lights and try not to wake my cowboy when I go in the house and undress. I crawl under the warm covers and strong arms pull me closer.