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You Call Checking Cows A Date Night?

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Ranch wife offers advice for young couples on maintaining a happy, healthy marriage while working together to raise kids, cows and crops.

I have learned a lot about love and marriage from my parents. After 26 years of marriage, their love is still very evident. They laugh together, go on date nights and enjoy spending time together. One thing they joke about is that their favorite date is taking pasture tours together to look at calves in the summertime.

Now, I'm a hopeless romantic, having grown up on such Disney classics as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. Looking back, I don't recall any of these leading ladies receiving boots and coveralls as a Christmas present, but that's pretty common for many ranch wives. After a year of marriage to Tyler, I'm learning to appreciate the simple things in life, as we work toward our goals in production agriculture.

I recently listened to ranch wife and humorous agriculture columnist Amy Kirk speak at the South Dakota Farm Bureau's (SDFB) Young Farmer and Rancher Conference. Her presentation was titled, "Ranch Communications In And Out Of The Pasture," and she offered advice to the young, married ranch couples in attendance.

Here are a few highlights from Kirk's presentation that I think any ranching couple will appreciate:

“Communication is so important on the ranch. When working as a couple, our roles overlap -- romance, business partner, ranchers, parents. ‘Spouses in translation’ would be an appropriate title for today’s presentation, and although I don’t always understand the hand signals my husband gives me when moving cows, I have learned to better understand him and the cues he is trying to give me in our marriage.”

Kirk referenced several books in her presentation including: "For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men" and "For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women," both by Shaunti Feldhahn, as well as "The Five Love Languages" by Gary D. Chapman and "To Have And To Hold: Thoughts On Successful Marriage" by Val Farmer.

“Men need time to think things through, while women need to talk things through. As ranchers, there’s so much we can’t control; the weather and the markets are so unpredictable. That’s why many ranchers like to have firm control on certain things, such as how the records are kept or the way chores are done. The many pressures to provide and control can be draining on a man, so make home a safe haven for him to unwind and relax after a long day at work. Men should take time to listen to their wives. My best advice for men is: listen, reassure, pursue her like you did when you were dating and repeat."

What's your best marriage advice? How long have you been married? What's the most interesting, practical present your spouse has presented to you? Do you consider a pasture tour a date night? Share your stories of love, marriage and ranch life in the comments section below.

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 31

Julie Feldhaus (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

I wonder how many wives got a meat grinder for a present? I still have mine although I haven't used it for a long time!! Don't get me started on the hand signals. I would tell the silage cutting hand signal story but I'm sure this is blog is rated G:)
Love your blog Amanda!

Jennifer Campbell (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

Happily (most of the time) married to a farmer for 20 years! Just had date night Tuesday night - I rode down to the hog barns with him, while he fed I rotated the semen in the cooler - these types of things and cruising equipment lots are some of our most productive "together" times for the two of us and for our family! My best advice I can give and live by I read a long time ago on a small country church sign - "Happiness is a way of travel not a destination" - enjoy everyday the good and the not so good, be best friends but rely on your other friends as well!
Presents - I have received work boots, insulated overalls, wash pants but my favorite is the 4 door truck he bought me last year and said "I am even gonna put a gooseneck ball in it for ya!"!!!

http://www.jentsfrontporch.blogspot.com/

on Jan 19, 2012

Julie, I got a meat slicer for Christmas for making jerky out of the deer Tyler shot...oh the joys of being a ranch wife!

on Jan 19, 2012

Jennifer, I love your marriage advice! And, I would take a truck for a Christmas present! Wow!

Oh, for shiny baubles and pretty things...us ranch gals have to appreciate the practical gifts our husbands bestow on us! Ha!

Brandi Buzzard (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

Hyatt and I will be married one year and boy has it been a wake-up call. I've learned to compromise, swallow your pride and that I don't always have to have the last word (and neither does he). I got coveralls for Christmas this year and it was the best present I've gotten in awhile! Great piece, Amanda. I'm going to put a few of those books on my reading list.

Danielle (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

I have been married for 4 years. When we tallied up the money from the wedding gifts, my husband and I decided to use it to buy some semen and increase our herds productivity. Although it was a one time purchase, many of the mating we have now are because we invested in our herd future at that time. That is a wedding gift that has truthfully been re-gifted every year when we have new calves and we know each and every calf that was acquired through those purchases. Our daughter actually got a new hereford heifer last week from the Shular semen we bought !

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

My husband and I have been in the farming business for forty three years. We had a few cows in partnership with his brother, but ater teaching school for thirty years-I woud often say I taught school so that my husband coud farm-- I retired and we set out to buy cows of our own. We began with a smattering of four to six-year-old mother cows. Every breed we could find!
Immediately I fell in love with the operation. I coaxed many of them to eat out of my hand and gave them names. We still have most of those moter cows who have allowed us to expand our operation from 17 to around 200 cows. We have added commercial and registered Red Angus cows, and we enjoy going to the pasture and checking on "the girls."
This summer, with the drought in Texas, we had to sell some of the cows, but we were able, by moving them from pasture to pastrue to keep most of the herd. God blessed us with being able to bale some corn stalks and we are still feeding it.
Two days ago, the first calves of 2012 were born, and we can't wait to put on our coveralls, go out with the binoculars sometimes,and check the "babies." My coveralls are pink, by the way, as well as my cowgirl boots. I have to be fashionable for my "date to check the cows," and I love it. There's nothing like seeing those babies and mommas together. Of course, the grandkids come first, but the cows give the entire family so much pleasure. Many times the grandkids are there with, they relish calving season too, of course!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

My husband and I have been in the farming business for forty three years. We had a few cows in partnership with his brother, but ater teaching school for thirty years-I woud often say I taught school so that my husband coud farm-- I retired and we set out to buy cows of our own. We began with a smattering of four to six-year-old mother cows. Every breed we could find!
Immediately I fell in love with the operation. I coaxed many of them to eat out of my hand and gave them names. We still have most of those moter cows who have allowed us to expand our operation from 17 to around 200 cows. We have added commercial and registered Red Angus cows, and we enjoy going to the pasture and checking on "the girls."
This summer, with the drought in Texas, we had to sell some of the cows, but we were able, by moving them from pasture to pastrue to keep most of the herd. God blessed us with being able to bale some corn stalks and we are still feeding it.
Two days ago, the first calves of 2012 were born, and we can't wait to put on our coveralls, go out with the binoculars sometimes,and check the "babies." My coveralls are pink, by the way, as well as my cowgirl boots. I have to be fashionable for my "date to check the cows," and I love it. There's nothing like seeing those babies and mommas together. Of course, the grandkids come first, but the cows give the entire family so much pleasure. Many times the grandkids are there with, they relish calving season too, of course!

on Jan 19, 2012

I really enjoyed this post! Being married to a farmer or rancher is a different lifestyle. They don't have 8-5 jobs so sometimes its can be a strain on home life. I like the little reminder on here to make the home a safe haven...a place to unwind and relax!

UtahCowboy49 (not verified)
on Mar 7, 2012

The strain is because a rancher or farmer has 5 to 8 jobs or more and must be at least proficient at most of them. So a farmer's wife has to make up all the rest of the fields (pun intended) to keep the place going. I figure my wife's time at about $350/hr. She is my legal consultant, a doctor, a vet assistant, book keeper, anger management assistant, child advice specialist, and driver of any piece of machinery from a swather to our family mini-van. I am currently behind 25 years in wages to her so I keep her happy so she'll stay.

sueprine (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

We have been married 31 years and I was a town girl. We went from Mike screaming at me for getting his tractor stuck to me owning my own tractor. As far as marriage advice, just remember God did not make any of us perfect, we just pray that the one we offend has a forgiving heart--because it is going to happen. Presents, oh wow! One year i got a really NICE fishing reel from one of my son's. No i don't fish! last year--a calf squeeze chute and this Christmas a hubcap for my truck! The strange thing is I loved every one of them! Pasture dates every evening that i make it home from my town job in time. As you know the saying--Behind every succesful rancher there is a wife that works in town. I was really excited when Mike asked me if i wanted to take a vacation trip into Arkansas. The excitement dampened a little when i saw we were going in the big truck and trailer. We just MIGHT have to stop and get some panels on the way! Oh well, us country wives know how to get the best out of any trip. A trip to the mall or a trip to the ag expo----us farm girls will pick the ag expo every time!!!!

on Jan 19, 2012

Brandi, I highly recommend The Five Love Languages. Tyler and I read it when we were engaged, and it has really helped us communicate with each other. I loved it!

on Jan 19, 2012

Danielle, I think your present of bull semen is the best one yet! I'm literally laughing myself out of my chair right now! Yet, I've learned that in agriculture, sometimes we have to make practical financial decisions to get ahead. Getting started means being frugal, setting goals and thinking ahead. You and your husband certainly did that with your wedding gift.

With our wedding money, we put a down payment on some pasture. I know that will be a lasting legacy that we can pass down to our children, and for me, that beats any Jamaican vacation or fancy things for my house.

on Jan 19, 2012

Anonymous, my Carhartt jacket is pink, too. No need to sacrifice style just because we have to be outside working and getting dirty.

I like the quote, "Cowgirl is just a beautiful girl with dirt on her!"

on Jan 19, 2012

Kat, I really liked that piece of advice from Kirk, as well. It's amazing how we can sometimes bring the stress of the ranch to the dinner table in the evening hours, and I think it's so important just to unwind, relax and enjoy each other's company.

on Jan 19, 2012

Sue, great advice, and my theory is if you can make a vacation a business expense and tax right-off, why not? Pick up those panels and have yourself a grand, ole time!

sueprine (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

speaking of business trip, are you going to Nashville?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

My mother and dad were sitting in a pick-up late one night waiting for five pots of bred heifers to be delivered. A sheriff deputy pulled onto the side road and put the spotlight on them, thinking they were lovers parking. The next morning, my dad said, "Boy, if you ever get caught up there parking, just tell them you are checking out the heifers." We shared an embarrassed laugh.

on Jan 19, 2012

HA! Well, whatever works. There's no rule that says you can't steal a kiss when out checking cows!

on Jan 19, 2012

We enjoy each second together checking cattle. It's simply the small things in life. We all go, our three little boys, and us.
I can't say I've ever been given anything out of the ordinary for a gift.
My Grandmother gives, us, the hubby and I money each year for Christmas, and we are saving it up, so that one day when we get enough together we will go buy a cow, of our liking.
This is a very good life to live, and we love it, even when there are calves to be pulled, and sick cattle to doctor. We have a long road ahead, and we learn a lot, and will continue to learn as we make out way into the ranching business, and grow.
We've been married for 5 years, and ranching the whole time. We talk everything through, and do everything as we are partners in business and life. It's a family affair.

on Jan 19, 2012

Rachel, I love your attitude and outlook on life. Ranching is a family affair, and I think we can all agree we are blessed to enjoy the lifestyle.

Heather Kingdon (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

So enjoyed this and all the comments. My husband and I have been in the business and married for over 30 years...checking cows is still such a treat...working cows/calves..is work..my husband turns into a strange "being"..I keep a small pile of rocks by certain posts, just in case I need to hurl one in his direction. We used to raise sheep too and during lambing we stopped talking..it was just better. The tales and laughter are endless...at the end of the day, we have a life with such purpose..so rewarding and so humbling. Again thank you for this reminder of all that we have and give.

on Jan 19, 2012

Thank YOU, Heather for sharing your testimony. Sometimes the rich conversations we have while working together are priceless, and at other times, silence is just as sweet.

We were thinking about investing in some sheep, as well. I would love some advice on that topic if you have a minute. Email me at beefnews@hotmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

My sweetie and I have been ranching for almost 13 years. Im a city girl and he was raised in New Orleans. We currently live in Ms and own 100 head of cattle now, and growing. Your date night story reminded me of a friend of ours who works at our local farm co-op dropping by to see us and found us fixing fence late one Saturday just before dark. He has since joked with us every time he sees us asking if we have had any more "date nights" fixing fence. Our favorite times are also checking the herd during calving season. It is my duty to tag the calves ASATAB. (as soon as they are born). Yes...our cows are that gentle too. I just love going out to "kiss the cows (and of course the cowboy too!) Thanks for your cute story.

Creede Burlingame (not verified)
on Jan 19, 2012

If you feel your perspective carries equal weight, be ready for many years of passionate fighting. Even so, what I have found after 25 years is the life is worth it even to the point of ruination of the marriage - and after the longest time the things that are shared - like checking the cows and improving the herd - give you a gift that people that live in the city can never experience. I would never exchange even the worst and toughest of the things we have seen on the ranch for the life of someone who never knows what it is like to have a calf die in your arms.

on Jan 20, 2012

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous! That's a cute story! I will be using ASATAB (as soon as they are born), this calving season! We, too, immediately weigh and tag our babies. Calving season is a lot of hard work, but it's one of the best times of the year, that's for sure!

on Jan 20, 2012

Creede, you bring up a very good point. Ranch life is a beautiful one, but it also comes with heartache and challenges. Sometimes we will butt heads and fight with our spouse; sometimes the tractor will break down when money is tight; and sometimes a calf will die in our arms. But, if we can stick through these challenging times together, I think we will be blessed in our marriage on the ranch. Thanks for the good advice.

By the way, I think my husband tried to step things up as a result of this post. He asked me to a date of board games last night! :)

faf19a2 (not verified)
on Jan 20, 2012

In June, we will be married 48 years and our dates have always been checking cattle, fences,working on equipment,etc. My husband was a city boy and I was reared on a large farm and never wanted to live in town. He took to farming and ranching like a duck to water and the marriage has been great. We are both type a ,neat freak, practical, thrifty individuals who are each other's best friend which has certainly helped to make this marriage last and be successful. Our gifts to each other are usually a gun, new bull or brood cow for him and some kind of equipment for me, tractors lawnmowers,balers, cutter conditioners, trucks, cattle and horse trailers,scales, portable corrals, new straws of breeding line,you name it and I have probably gotten it for a birthday, anniversary, or Christmas present. I would rather have something that can be used to make our work easier than a ring or a scarf that is going to spend most of the time in a drawer. We only wear breakaway watches[no other jewelery when working outside] so there is nothing to catch on in the equipment and we still have all of our fingers. I would not trade our way of life for any other way of living. When you work hard together to succeed it welds your marraige as nothing else can. I would rather have my cattle checking dates than any other kind of date. Watching cattle eat in the sunset and counting calves playing around their mothers, is the best kind of date in the world.

on Jan 20, 2012

Faf, I love your advice: "When you work had together to succeed, it welds your marriage as nothing else can."

SO true. My husband and I are working hard to buckle down and achieve our goals, and sometimes it can be hard to be so disciplined with our cash, as we save up for something super practical. Hey, I'm a girl; I like pretty things! But, at the end of the day, that dress I will probably wear once, and that decoration for my living room will just get dusty. A bred heifer -- now that's my idea of a present! We are saving up for some now...

Thanks for your stories and advice. I really appreciate it!

Darcy (not verified)
on Jan 23, 2012

What a great post, and wonderful comments inspired below!

My husband and I have been married almost 2 years, and whenever we have a tough day of hand signals, mis-communications, missed gates, or raised voices due to frustration - I just think to myself...."I'll love you forever, and ever...and no matter what." And knowing I'm not the only one going through tough days - usually when heifers are calving, or hay must be put up, and sleep is tight - and that there are other wives out there feeling the same thing I am, well that makes me feel a bit better to.

But the agricultural lifestyle is the BEST one out there. And getting to spend a lifetime with a spouse who cherishes it as much as I do is one of the best parts of our marriage.

ladyag (not verified)
on Jan 30, 2012

My husband died 29 years ago and I took over the operation with my young son and daughter. I am a terrible worrier and he always told me to stop worrying about things I had no control over. I must admit I am better at that now. For instance when the crops are laid by...what else can we do but it is still hard not to worry.

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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