Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Ag kids in the spring
The youngest of the farming and ranching community love spring; they emerge from winter like a fully caffeinated puppy following a good nap. They can hardly stand themselves they have so much pent up energy, things to explore, animals to tame and events to attend. I’ve also caught on that the farm and ranch youth are a unique bunch in this world we live in…
They pitch a fit in the store, just like any other little kid on occasion. However, the reason for their fit is mom said no to buying their own hotshot or cutting knife.
The school is calling nearly daily with complaints that the ag kid is explaining calving, castration, sewing up a prolapse, even the reality of death, to their classmates. Classmates may have been in tears while other parents are upset their child came home asking “breeding questions.”
Comparing bruises is a form of entertainment.
The high school principal also called because the ag teenager knew more about animal biology and native plant species than his science teacher, and the teacher didn’t take being corrected well. Dad is proud, mom is pleading with everyone to just get through the last two weeks of school.
Pocket treasurers begin to include living or once living things.
If dad isn’t along, the kids will happily fill in with his customary commentary on how each field is doing, what has happened with it the recent past (fertilizing, spraying, last year’s crop, hail, etc…), and so on, just in case mom forgot.
Every meal includes an updated conversation of who is the best neighborhood calf nut cook.
They’re all about the numbers, learning how to write them while making ear tags and recording calving records in their very own calving book, put precisely in their left shirt pocket, with their special pen. They also enthusiastically practice their verbal counting skills every time anything goes through a gate, causing dad to question his own number related abilities.
New cuss words are learned, and tested.
The only good toys are those that be used to replicate spring farm and ranch activities. Discussion at the toy store may include asking an employee why there are not toy OB chains, why the plastic bull does not have testicles, why aren’t there cows in the child’s breed of choice, can a pusher be added to their toy semi, who would ever recreate a cow that was clearly knocked down in her hip, and so on. This is typically met with great humor or horror.
Everything needs branded. Everything.
Fights may include new weapons, like sorting sticks or hot shots.
Ample discussion among friends occurs regarding each one’s mount, if he’s broncy, cold backed, hard mouthed, barn sour, lazy, cowy, fat, tall, and the list goes on.
Friendships are made and lost based on opinions regarding rope and drag versus table brandings and red versus green equipment.
Mom gets weed bouquets daily, and they are proudly displayed.
If they’re under about 12 years old, they brag to their town friends about what they got to drive over the weekend.
Kids bring home new legitimate new ideas regarding heifer bulls to use and seed buying options after talking to their ag friends.
Straw hats or caps, boots and worn blue jeans with holes or patches on the knees become the summer uniform of choice. As do dirt dusted freckles, sunburns, and bleached hair-dos. And, yes, the boys do have an opinion on the logo/ranch/brand displayed on their cap. Just ask them.
They can recite the seven-day forecast on a moment’s notice, day or night.
Great pride is taken in their tasks, particularly when they move up the ranks in any way. Their new skillset is discussed among their peers with the confidence, knowledge, experience and vernacular only five-year old’s possess.
Garden hoses become a primary water source.
Babies think paint stinks, ear tags, calf bottles and a variety of other ranch-related items are toys or teething rings.
They have a running headcount on the number of kittens on the place.
It really is too bad the world doesn’t have a few more fearless, adventuresome ag kids running around, especially this time of year.