Lee Pitts: Making The Change
It’s come to my attention that lately there’s been an influx of dairymen into the cattle business due to low milk prices. For many, making “The Change” has brought great joy because some dairymen felt there always was a cowboy or cowgirl hiding inside a dairyman’s body. But for others, making “The Change” has been more difficult because it involves a complete makeover in the way they look, talk and walk. In some extremely difficult cases it may even involve hormone therapy or a shrink. This essay will serve as a cowboy’s guide on how to make “The Change” without all the publicity that Bruce Jenner, or whatever his name is, created.
The first step to becoming a cattleman is an operation to amputate an appendage you will no longer need. Your ATV should be surgically removed from your butt and in its place a horse should be attached. This can be a difficult transition but remember, a horse is like a Holstein: it eats, sleeps, and will come when you rattle a bucket. Once you are attached to your horse remember, never get off. Other heavy equipment should also be removed from your former life including the skid loader, hay baler and feed truck. These have no place on a cattle ranch.
The biggest change will occur in your appearance. First, lose the footwear. Trade in your knee-high rubber boots for a good pair of sturdy cowboy boots. Toss the ball cap you got from the semen salesman and replace it with a cowboy hat. You should wear a long sleeve shirt that is tucked into your jeans at all times and no tee-shirts with stupid udder jokes on them.
Just as Bruce did when he made “The Change”, you’ll need a new name. Most dairymen actually go by the name on their birth certificate but we don’t do that. Get yourself a nickname like Bowlegs, Buster, Wishbone, Gloomy, Leatherlip, Post Hole, Slim (must weigh at least 285), Horse Face, Bean Belly, Tex, Thunder Butt or One Thumb. You do know how to rope don’t you?
In making “The Change” you simply must change the group of folks you have coffee with in the morning. Oh, I forgot, you’ve probably never gathered with your buddies at the cafe two hours before sunup because you were always busy yanking on udders. Say goodbye to the AI technician and the Farm Advisor and spend less time with the veterinarian. It’s all right to see the vet once a year for preg checking, and if you simply must call one out for a C-section, but we don’t see them everyday like you used to do. Real cattlemen hang out with order buyers, bull peddlers, supplement salesmen, cattle haulers, and auction market field men. So sell your gomer bull, get a real dog and find a banker who doesn’t know how to count cows. Cattlewomen don’t shop at Nordstroms or go to the hairdresser once a week either.
To make “The Change” you’ll need to acquire an all new vocabulary. We don’t talk about things like macro-economics, quotas or debt-to-income ratio. Sure, we know what EPDs are but we don’t brag about it. Mostly we talk about two things: the state of your grass and how much rain you got in the last storm. That’s about it.
Making “The Change” means you’ll have an all new outlook on life and you’re whole body will feel different. You’ll start to feel more pessimistic, you’ll grunt more and instead of buying the best hay money can buy you’ll begin to consider alternatives like post-Halloween pumpkins, deformed carrots and cardboard. Your belly will start to bulge more and you’re face will get sunburnt for the first time since college. (If you wanted to stay indoors you should have become a greenhouse grunt or hog barn janitor because real cowboys work outside.) Speaking of hogs, they have no place on a real cow ranch and neither do chickens. We eat beef and drink whiskey and do not, I repeat, DO NOT hand us the wine list.
So go ahead, tear down the milking parlor, sell the semen tank, say goodbye to milk checks and repeat after me: “I will no longer be associated with dimwitted dairy cows or be held a prisoner to lactation ever again.”
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