My mom wasn’t raised on a ranch, so after my parents got married, not only did she have to learn what it meant to be a rancher’s wife, but also what it meant to be a rancher. She worked side by side with my dad at almost every odd job in the book, including milk testing cows – in eastern Montana, so they could realize their dream of supporting their family on the ranch. She threw everything into learning the ins and outs of every aspect of ranching, and it is safe to say that we all know that things wouldn’t run nearly as smoothly without her, especially when it comes to the ranch record keeping.
One of my favorite memories of growing up was when my mom, and couple other moms (who I over 20 year’s later still consider my “second moms”) took on the task of coaching my 4-H livestock judging team, which was made up of myself and 3 other 12-13 year old girls. Frustrated with our inability to give reasons on a set of yearling bulls without blushing and dissolving into fits of nervous giggles, the moms had us standing in the middle of the yard yelling, “Testicle! Testicle! Testicle!” at the top our lungs! Needless to say, I got over the fear of giving that set of reasons fairly quickly and still share a laugh about it nearly every time I happen to run into another member of my former judging team.
Thirty-seven years later, my mom is still my dad’s number 1 ranch-hand. A couple of months ago I was being interviewed for a newspaper article that was going to be written about our family operation. The gal that was writing the article was asking me whose job it was to do various tasks on the ranch, and I found myself repeating my mom’s name over and over. From submitting data to the American Simmental Association, to paying the bills, to pulling the records together for the bull sale catalog and coordinating all of the advertising - my mom is truly the one who keeps the ranch running behind the scenes. On the rare occasion that my sister, brother and I are all back at the ranch at the same time she usually takes on, what I consider, the toughest job of them all, wrangling five grandchildren ranging in ages from nine years to 18 months. She does it with grace and patience, eager to teach them the ways of the ranch. My 9 year old, Grace, is always eager to help, but still intimidated by the cows, but my mom is always there to guide her, keeping a watchful eye as Grace records weaning weights or mixes vaccines. And when my 5 year old, Harper, is caught inscribing the number of her favorite calf, 661, on the door of the brand-new sale barn with permanent marker, she takes it all in stride.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the other farm and ranch moms out there!