The Bag Lady hasn’t always been a rancher. (I know, I know, it’s a shock, but get back on your chair, you can’t read your screen from the floor!)
Once upon a time, the bag lady wasn’t even a bag lady (but that is another story for another day)! She was just your average, everyday city girl who worked in an office, lived in a city (a small city, but nevertheless; there was pavement and all the trappings of civilization), ate in restaurants, ran to the corner store if she needed a loaf of bread or a jug of milk – in other words, she led a normal city life. Oh, sure, she went camping occasionally, and had lots of relatives with farms, so she wasn’t totally unacquainted with country life, but she was pretty much citified. She even wore dresses and high heels and jewelry occasionally.
Then she met her cowboy and her life changed. Oh, not all at once. It was gradual, and actually quite painless, for the most part. First to go were the dresses and high heels. Jeans and sneakers were more practical – it’s next to impossible to chase a cow through the bush in a dress and heels! Then she had to learn how to fix a barbed wire fence. Barbed wire fences have to be tight because cows have a sixth sense about these things. If there’s one single small inch of a weak spot in a 10-mile long fence, they’ll find it, and the next thing you know, the neighbour is calling ‘cause he’s suddenly got a lot of live lawn ornaments dropping fertilizer everywhere!
One of the proudest days of her life was when her father-in-law was astonished that she knew how to tighten a barbed wire fence with a claw-hammer! He didn’t think a city girl would have a clue about that. And she hadn’t until a few days prior, when her cowboy “learned her how”.
She has learned to recognize when a cow is getting close to calving, how to tell if a granary full of oats is heating, how to drive a tractor and a wheel-loader, and how to open a wire gate. She has chased cows in all kinds of weather, has strung barbed wire for miles of fence, and driven a tractor pulling a haybine to cut hay. She has shoveled shit, carried pails full of water or oats, and doctored sick calves.
She has also learned what is important in life. Having the latest technological gadget or the newest style of running shoes is not even on the page. Without farmers to provide the rest of the world with food, having the latest Ipod won’t mean a thing. Your Ipod won’t feed you or keep you alive. It may help some people keep their sanity, but without the lowly farmer, the world will starve.
The Bag Lady suspects there are children in the big cities who think their food is produced in the grocery stores. In fact, the Bag Lady suspects there are some adults in some of the large cities who think that, too! In a way, she feels sorry for the city folk who never get a chance to experience the joy of watching a calf take his first wobbly steps, or watching the sunrise when you are totally alone except, of course, for the birds and wildlife.
Ranching is hard work, but it is fulfilling. We will never be rich – in fact, most farmers and ranchers have to work off the farm to make ends meet. But we will keep at it because we love it, and somebody has to do it.
So the next time you venture outside the city and see some poor hayseed driving his rusty old pick-up truck, give him a nod or a wave to show your appreciation for playing his part in feeding this nation!