Under the Wire
Someone has to grow up
December 1, 2021
I’m the father of three girls. Two I held at birth, a third I didn’t meet until the age of 10 (her, not me). I mention this to establish my qualifications to talk about what’s to follow.
A father and son (I have one of those, too) have a unique bond. Nature, however, creates an automatic problem. I call it old bull and young bull in the same pasture. That, however, is another story. There is a bond between father and daughter unlike any other. Love, of course. Mutual respect and admiration, yes. Understanding how each other think well ... there’s the problem.
The problem surfaces at various times. Every dad/daughter find their own moment. Remember we are closely related. Daughter has inherited Dad’s mannerisms, tolerance level and perhaps temper. This makes them able to push each other’s buttons at will.
Dad may bring home a toy truck for daughter to play with which she ignores, hurting Dad’s feelings. Daughter may bring home a boy for Dad to ignore, hurting daughter’s feelings. If both of these situations occur with no big blow up between the two, they may be the rare pair who never disagree.
If Dad happens to be in the cattle business, however, the “event” will occur sooner or later, guaranteed. This is because one fateful day, Dad will need Daughter to come out to the corral to help work cattle.
Working cattle can be stressful. You may have built a set of corrals the neighbors lust after but a set of uncooperative cows or a bull on the fight can render them useless. Add choking dust or ankle deep mud, 110 degrees or 15 degrees, with or without wind and, well, you get the picture. To state it gracefully, emotions may run high.
A friend of ours now living hundreds of miles from her father (quite by accident, I’m sure) called her normally wonderful Father a real “Jekyll and Hyde” when sorting yearlings. Taking the father’s side, I figured these incidents probably occurred when she was a very immature teenager. I was informed the most recent episode took place a few months ago when she took a vacation from her high profile job in the beef industry to visit Mom and Dad back on the ranch.
My most memorable experience with my daughters involved a time many years ago when I had a couple of hundred cows, a crummy set of corrals and two daughters doing forced labor, ages around 10 and 12 at the time. They were on horses and their job was to push a few cows at a time down an alley to the holding pen behind the chute I was operating. On paper it looked like a good idea. Add belligerent cows and poor fences and it was not a pretty site. Many “loud verbal communications” took place between me and my crew. They were trying their hearts out but it wasn’t working. Half way through one of them abruptly quit without the customary two weeks notice. The other doubled up her duties and stuck with it silently enduring my shouts for “more cattle.”
Finally, late that afternoon we were done. After making sure no more help was needed, she calmly tied her horse to the fence, walked to the house and never returned to the corral again. She’s now well over 30 years old and I don’t believe she has helped me sort cattle since. We get along great because of it.
Yep, there’s a special bond between a father and daughter that must be protected. It’s lucky when one of the two grows up enough to protect them from each other.