Farm Wife 101: As a new bride, clearly establish one cardinal rule:
Thou shalt not yell at your lovely bride as she attempts to help you out (with cattle or harvest or any other task that might come her way).
I was smart enough to lay this groundwork 29 years ago. I had spent my time as a farmer's daughter. I decided that a farmer's wife should be more in line with having a new partner.
Going against this cardinal rule could result in said "partner" vacating the area. And then the job would need to be accomplished without the extra set of hands, feet and eyes.
Randy wasted no time in sharing that edict with his dad. I didn't know until several years later than Melvin had also been told of the "no yelling" mandate.
However, Randy is a smart man. He would often preface the start of any "challenging" job with this statement: "Honey, if we're yelling, it's at the cattle (or the machinery or fill in the blank). We're not yelling at you."
I don't want to give you the wrong idea. Randy is truly one of the most patient people I have ever met (Hence, for 29 years, he has been married to one of the least patient people I know - me!)
But it's been a really good rule. I have never walked out on a job. (And, honestly, I'm not much of a quitter anyway, but still ...)
And now here's a tip for those of you who haven't been in the biz for 29 years already:
Farm Wife 101: Rule 2: Establish a pay scale.
I failed miserably in this area. And today I deserve combat pay.
I helped Randy and Jake (our hired man) round up baby calves and their mamas at the creek. Because of all the recent rain, we had to drive them to corrals about a third of a mile away. The great cattle drive went well.
Then we had to sort - or separate - the babies from the mama cows. It was going along just fine. My job was trying to keep the babies in the pen while we sent the cows into another pen.
In my haste to keep a baby from escaping, I banged my knee on a gate. Owwwww! After a slight pause in the action, I went back to work (like I said, I'm not a quitter).
Finally, mission accomplished and I could look at the damage. I managed to break open the skin on top of my treadmill scar (which is still quite lovely after 3 months). And I can feel the bruise forming and the goose egg forming through the throbbing of my right knee.
I told Randy I needed combat pay. He told me that he would pay me double today. Woohoo!
But wait: 0 X 2 is ... drum roll please ... 0!
Some payments are less tangible than others.
Farm Wife 101, Rule 3: Don't forget to appreciate your life.
It may sound sappy, but I'm truly blessed. My payments come in the form of having a beautiful place to live and work on the County Line. They come in having a front-row seat for the changing of the seasons and the splendor of God's handiwork - spring, summer, winter and fall.
Granted, that's easier to do on days when your knee isn't throbbing. But that's life as a farm wife.
Tune in tomorrow for more on the Great Cattle Drive - this springtime ritual for farmers and ranchers (and, often, their wives!)