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"Gate Girl"

Feb 28, 2011

 

There is something about spending a weekend on the ranch that is so recharging, it’s like after the time spent there I come back to life.  Maybe it is the cattle, the wide open spaces, maybe the church family, maybe it’s the warmer weather, or maybe it’s the South, but an Arkansas weekend is well worth the 7 hour drive each way. 
See, the Cowman manages the cow herd on a ranch in Prattsville, Arkansas. They are calving and I decided it would be a fun surprise to burn up the road Friday afternoon and show up for the weekend unannounced. Now, you might be thinking… showing up completely unannounced seems risky, but I’ve got to tell ya on the surprising end it is so much fun.
New Calf
One of the fresh calves over the weekend.
Checking cows and tagging calves over the weekend I had the chance to be in the world I like best, the ranch. The sun was shining, baby calves were jumping around playing and I resumed my position as “Gate Girl”.
Although I am unmarried, in my years as “Gate Girl” I have experienced the majority of this list of Ranch Wife Guidelines by Julie Carter to be entirely true, so I thought I would share them with you. (If for no other reasons, the laughs)
1. Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one unloaded. By the time he's got his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up ready to go - lessening the chance of him riding off without you with your horse trying to follow while you are still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.
2. Never - and I repeat never - ever believe the phrase "We'll be right back," when he has asked you to help him do something out on the ranch. The echoing words, "this will only take a little while" have filtered through generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.
3. Always know there is NO romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks waters and looks at cattle. What that sweet request really means is he wants someone to open the gates.
4. He will always expect you to quickly be able to find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in four-square feet of refrigerator.
5. Count every head of everything you see - cattle especially, but sometimes horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, out the gate or on the horizon. The first time you don't count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks "How many?" will not be acceptable.
cows
6. Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the pickup. If he is on the back and you are driving, the opportunity for constant criticism of speed, ability and your eyesight will be utilized to the full extent.
7. Never let yourself be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and then hollers "Hold 'em, hold 'em" at the top of his lungs, don't think that you really can do it. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is ALWAYS an option that has been used throughout time.
8. Don't expect him to correctly close the snap-on tops on the plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning, the cows will get out; the food will not.
9. Always praise him when he helps in the kitchen - the very same way he does when you help with the ranch work - or not.
10. Know that when you step out of the house you move from the "wife" department to "hired hand" status. Although the word "hired" indicates there will be a paycheck that you will never see, rest assured you will have job security. The price is just right. And most of the time you will be "the best help he has" even if it is because you are the ONLY help he has. 
Ranch Sunset
I love to joke, but while I do get teased for opening gates the wrong direction and for being lock challenged, the Cowman is pretty good about being sweet, even when there’s work involved. We will see if that is true after we truly work cattle together because that is the test of any relationship right?
Hope you enjoyed the Monday laughs!
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