Life is Simple: What I meant to say was…

Jerry Crownover

An old friend recently sent me a picture of the present his wife gave him for Christmas last year. It was a sweatshirt with a picture of a couple of calves on the front, accompanied by the words, “Sorry for what I said when we were working cattle.”

Bud said it worked great because he just had to point at his shirt instead of spending time apologizing to his wife anytime they were working together and cattle were involved. So … I guess I’m not the only one.

Shortly after Judy and I first married, we lived on a few acres just outside of town and we were raising calves for some extra income – and to help pacify my farming itch. My wife had never lived on a farm nor been around livestock, so the day one of the calves got through the fence and out onto the road, she thought she was being helpful when she ran along behind the calf when I was trying to drive it the opposite direction. I could have sworn that I was cursing in a low, quiet voice, but evidently the wind carried it just right for her to hear and understand every word.

“Don’t you ever talk to me like that again!” she bellowed as she stormed by me on her way back to the house.

A couple of years later, we had moved out to the farm where we still live, and we were running several cow/calf pairs. Judy had never worked with me while processing cattle through a chute, so she was eager to show me that she could do anything I could. Again, with her lack of experience, I was a bit skeptical, but I figured having a nurse along while vaccinating and castrating could be a good thing.

The first animal in the chute was a heifer calf, so I drew the proper dosage of vaccine into a disposable syringe and showed her where and how to inject it into the critter. As we captured a second heifer, Judy asked me where to find a new syringe. I told her to use the same one we just used on the last calf. That’s when her nurse’s training kicked in.

“You can’t use the same needle on another calf,” she exclaimed. “You’ll cause an infection!”

I assured her it would be all right because I had been doing this for 30 years with no problems. “It’s not like we’re working in a sterile environment,” I added.

A bit perturbed, she asked, “Well, when do you change needles?”

“When that one gets dull,” I answered. In retrospect, I should have changed the tone of my voice, but ... Anyway, she stayed for one more calf, a little bull that needed an extra procedure beyond the shot of vaccine. 

I showed my wife how to apply the “tail hold” that would render the animal almost motionless while I performed the procedure. She just nodded that she understood. I began but was immediately kicked in the head. When I regained my composure, I shook my head a little and stared straight at her. What I meant to say, was, “Honey, I think you need to hold the tail tighter,” but what came out, was, “@#$%, hold the &%$# tail tighter!!!”

If I’d only had Bud’s sweatshirt, she might still be willing to work cattle.

Copyright (c) 2018, Jerry Crownover

Ozark County Times

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