My hubby coined this phrase. "How many shit sandwiches do I need to eat in this lifetime". Quite the big question, normally comes during a very unfortunate life event. I won't go into the sheer volume of them, it is quite a list, (as the nurse in ER trying to take his medical history will confirm, after she asked for the third time, "there is more, really, holy shit man"). She said shit too.
It did get me thinking in particular about livestock operators. I did not have a clue what mental fortitude and vast amount of knowledge one person needed, to be successful in this business. I don't want to sound cliche, but as a business person myself, who has run an office of 400 employees, to running a small town bar/restaurant and helping with the cattle business a tad, in total, if I did them all at once, it would not equate to the variety of challenges and sheer work effort I see in these cattlemen doing their thing. It.is.hard. Animals need to be looked after daily, no vacation from that doing that.
Taking the time to understand the nature of life, is HUGE. I had to learn cattle. They have hair not fur, messy births, sickness's like humans, they kick up their heels in the sunshine, cry for mama, strut, have a wide range of attitudes, enjoy a good scratch, genetics, breeding strategies, AI ultrasounds, stressors, diet, and what to watch for so you don't get run over by them. Then I learned about trailer travel, the impact of too much water, not enough water, too hot or cold, too wet, too dry on them and their food supply, death, auctions, sales, fairs and shows, tractors, manure spreaders, skid loaders, feet trimming tables, marketing, seminars, government regulations, equipment repairing, and for me the worst part of it all, banking and all the zillion forms necessary to keep it all going, and the loan payments. Plenty of places for shit sandwiches to appear.
One of the biggest shit sandwiches is the weather. You know how often weather predictions come true, no one wants to have their incomes rely upon good weather. Plus you have the physical dangers, when you are around moving, breathing 1500 pound creatures daily and fixing moving equipment, shit happens and it gets emotional.
In truth, I did not get real country living until I married into it, and the general public has a hard time understanding what animal farmers go through, no government subsidies for them either. They rarely have time to educate, they are too busy doing. Passion is the only logical thing that keeps people in this career. With the floods in the Midwest that have killed tens of thousands of cattle, it is almost hard to breathe, knowing the pain and depression that is happening to people who have worked this hard to keep us fed and clothed. My tears and prayers seem small knowing they need to bury so many.
The shit sandwiches won't stop, the world keeps turning, chaos ebbs and flows, but it also proves how resilient we humans are, gives us the opportunity to communicate with each other at an intimate level, which can help our heart find our soul again, and connect and grow into better humans. All part of the journey on this planet. In the end it is all about love anyway, and I see love in the eyes of these cowboys for their herds and humanity both.
Life on Gravel
About the Author
City girl sharing stories of a life full of country glitter and other shit.