I’ve learned a few things from cows and cowboys over the years, such as…
• Good veterinarians are hardly ever on time.
• It doesn’t pay to be a tightwad when it comes to buying a horse, vaccines, a good cow dog or feeding the replacement heifers. Buy the cheapest bulls and you’ll sell the cheapest calves.
• Never let the lady from Pooch Pampadours, the local sheep shearer, or the gardener give you a haircut. You’ll either get fleas, your hair will look like a topiary poodle or it will take a year to grow out.
• When cattle prices are sky high, sell every calf you own. The time to build your herd is after the crash. Don’t play any game where the house makes all the rules. Hear that futures traders?
• I don’t care where you live, don’t buy a house where the monthly payment is larger than the square footage. Example: a $4,000 monthly payment for a 900 square foot condo. Never buy anything mechanical that is bigger than your home and always remember, you can’t buy a ranch that you can pay for with cattle. Still, there’s no better investment in the world.
• You can learn a lot by frequenting the coffee shop where farmers hang out, like how to apply for all the government programs for feed and fencing.
• Never take an ovulating mare to a branding or a roping.
• As military folks learned the hard way, “Never volunteer for anything.”
• Don’t overload your trucker. He’ll find a way to make you pay for his overweight ticket.
• Any cow you save by pulling out of a bog hole, or feeding until the paralyzed mother can walk again, will be crazy mad to kill you any time she sees you.
• Never hire a cowboy whose truck bed is filled with beer cans, who is addicted to team roping, doesn’t have a hitch on his pickup, has silver on his saddle, or is too proud to cut hay. The best help you’ll ever have is the person sleeping next to you. Absent that, hire a man and woman with five kids of working age.
• Never mount a horse in the vicinity of a rock garden or a cactus patch.
• Where the grass is good you’ll have no water, where the grass is bad you could open a water park. And just because it hasn’t rained in six years doesn’t mean it will this year.
• Don’t use the clean towels in the bathroom or kitchen. They are for guests.
• The night you’re too tired to check the heifers will be the night all breech birthers will calve. Or try to, anyway.
• Don’t sell your cattle off the ranch to a man who owns an auction market. Instead, consign them to his auction and cut out the middle man.
• Never own a cow you have to milk twice a day. The wilder the cows, the easier they’ll be to gather. The gentler the cattle the easier it will be for someone to steal them. The more Holstein in your cows the least likely a rustler will bother. If your cows are half Holstein leave all gates unlocked, have the cattle accessible and make it as easy as possible for the rustlers.
• The easiest way to get your neighbor to fix his share of the fence is to spread the rumor that you have trich in your herd.
• Wealth is a highly heritable trait.
• Always look inside your hat before you put it on and never wear lace up work boots to ride a horse. Cowboy boots have pointy toes for a reason.
• The better the meal you serve at your branding the less proficient your help will be. Never serve chicken or a vegetarian entrée if you want any decent help in the future.
• Don’t feed cattle with your own money. Use the banks.
• If you aren’t killed, any wreck is fair game for humor.
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Dad used to tell of his first job when they moved from Marion to Harrold in 1928. He was ten years old, big for his age, and needed to help the family earn some money.…