A family that yells at each other, stays together. That’s a thing, right? Well, in my family it is anyways. We were up in the Big Hole the other day, and yes, we yelled at each other. We call it “showing compassion” for each other. I think other people call it “anger issues,” but I’m not sure.
It all started that Monday morning. Originally, we weren’t going to go up until Tuesday, but the high for Monday was only 79. We got ready and headed up. It was nice for most of the morning. The cool weather was good because tempers flared. The first thing we did was move a group of our neighbors’ cow-calf pairs and bulls from the First Bar to the Irrigated Pasture, right next to our pairs. I only have one thing to say: Do not put two groups of pairs with bulls in a field with only an electric fence dividing them. It turns into a mixed-up disaster.
We got them pushed down into the hole and through the corral. While we were pushing them, I looked down at the gas gauge on my four-wheeler, and I was almost empty. I must tell you, it is really nerve racking to try to gather cows when your four-wheeler is on “E.” Apparently, we used a lot more gas the week before than we thought. After we got them all moved, I ran back to the house to scrounge up some gas. I found enough for a quarter of a tank. I was ready to give an arm and a leg to get that quarter of a tank to last all day.
Next thing we had to do was move the spring calvers to Cleve’s Field (Update: I still hate spring calvers). Carl and I were moving them, while Dad was off opening gates or something like that. First, the darn things wouldn’t get their butts in gear. After a while, we finally got to the pipe gate. There was a ditch to the left of the gate that we didn’t want them to get across. Once they do, it’s pretty much a straight shot to the abyss of the willows, and ole Dad would be ready to kill us if that happened. Anyways, back to the gate. Before you go through the gate, there’s a hill on the right that the cows like to go down. I couldn’t see anything that was happening because I was behind and below the herd. All of a sudden, my brother Carl went jetting through the gate and, of course, those old hides turned around and went the opposite way. I was furious at Carl. I was trying to be in six different spots at once trying to keep them from going down the hill or back to the Flower Garden. And guess who showed up? Carl. He came back through the gate, and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” He screamed back, “THEY WERE RUNNING DOWN THE HILL!!”(Can you feel the love?)
Finally, they started going through the gate, and Dad showed up with Wonder Mutt, a.k.a. Tipper. Tipper came over to me, well kind of. See, the thing with Tipper is, when he works cows, he follows the movement of the four-wheelers instead of the cows. Dad and I were riding straight across from each other, so I think Tipper thought we were moving toward the Flower Garden instead of away from it. He got in front of the cows and let me tell you, I’m amazed I still had a voice after I got done screaming at him.
Now, up until this point Dad was in a fairly good mood. That didn’t last long. Remember the neighbors’ pairs that got mixed up with ours? Well one of the neighbors’ pairs was in with the group of spring calvers we were trying to move. Dad kicked the cow off, and we had to find her orange ear-tagged calf in our sea of 90 blue tagged calves. Dad went to bring the cow back, and come to find out she went through the electric fence in three different places. That put him in a REALLY good mood! (Can you sense the sarcasm?)
We ate lunch and then brought the younger fall calvers in to sort the heifers out. This is where things got heated. Dad wanted me to send a couple cows up that alley for him to sort. Usually, Dad sorts the cows right out of the bunch, while I stand behind him and push them up the alley, and Carl runs the gate. So, I was attempting to spook the cows up when suddenly, they all started sprinting up the alley. All I saw was 25 pairs of eyes and 100 hooves running down the alley toward me. While this was happening, Dad came up behind me, and the plastic pipe I had in my hands to wave the cows back connected with Dad’s head. Naturally he got mad, and we were both giving each other the stink eye. Now, I’m sure you’re dying to know what exactly caused this cute little situation. Well, little Wonder Mutt thought he was helping by going to the front of the alley and spooking the cows. He was not.
I think it takes a special family to work together. We show each other lots of “compassion,” but at the end of the day we’re still able to talk to each other. It makes things a lot less awkward when we get up for work the next morning.
Hanna Kambich is a sophomore majoring in Agricultural Business at Montana State University. She spends most of her time working on the family ranch and writes about the day-to-day activities in her blog “The Ranch Hand’s Life.”