You need to be a jack of all trades; book keeper, veterinarian, mechanic, fence builder, welder, carpenter, plumber, electrician, chef, biologist, rangeland manager, equipment operator, advertising expert, trucker, manager, laborer, and the list goes on... BUT more importantly, you need to know when your expertise is lacking and you need to call the experts (even if your husband doesn't agree).
You quickly learn that special dates that were once elaborate planned celebrations are no longer quite as pertinent as they once were. Like when you no longer look forward to weekend trip of spa delights in the mountains to celebrate your wedding anniversary, but a warm meal at a truck stop a few days after you realized you forgot the date.
And vacation? HA! Warm tropical destinations are now replaced by midnight calving checks in -40 weather. Don't ask me how a healthy newborn calf in a warm barn makes you feel better than pina coladas & swimming pools, but somehow it just does.
Business is no longer done with contractual agreements and triple carbon copies, but through a handshake over coffee at the kitchen table, or a cold beer on the porch.
Exercise is no longer going to the gym (or at least promising yourself you would), but hauling buckets of grain to the heifers, square bales into the barn, or wrestling calves at branding.
Calendar dates and appointment times mean absolutely nothing when a fence is down, a cow is lame or a herd is hungry. This includes Christmas dinners, friend's parties, your niece's birthday or that bank appointment you've rescheduled for the 3rd time.
A cute bottle feeder calf is no longer only an adorable photo op, but a piece of your soul; a vested interested, a pay cheque, your blood, sweat and tears, and clothes on your back for the next year. (Adorable photo op is still acceptable, however.)
You don’t want to be the person with the smallest hands on the ranch. You just don’t.
Date night at the movie theater is replaced by book keeping, balancing budgets, cleaning vaccine guns and writing out tags.
The brandings that you once thought were a giant party with friends and a mean hangover the next day, are now a commitment to a neighbor and a guarantee of help when your need comes around. (That doesn't mean the hangover isn't always an option, though.)
You need to butterfly prairie oysters before frying them in the pan for supper. Unless you like cleaning up explosive hot balls of butter & batter all over your kitchen.
Sleeping in? Not even a possibility. Especially during calving. And harvest. And on weekends. And weekdays. And holidays...
A trip to the city means a truck box (literally) brimming full of groceries that will last you for months. It also means a list as long as your arm from friends and family who just want you to 'quickly pick something up' for them.
You WILL get sent to town for parts. It WILL take forever. They inevitably WILL be the wrong parts and you WILL have to go back to face the parts guy who now knows you by name and your equipment even better. This WILL happen for the 5th time in 2 days.
Supper time is not a set time. Animals’ needs come first. The haying and hauling come second. The neighbours' needs come third. The need for food is somewhere much further down the line- even if your husband did promise to be in at 6 and its now 10pm and the meal you worked so hard on is now cold and soggy.
You'll spend more time in muck boots and coveralls than you'll ever spend in those ridiculously overpriced bejeweled jeans you bought last year.
Make-up? The cows don't care what you look like. Throw it in the same drawer as those bejeweled jeans you won't wear.
You'll fight over who has to do 3:00am calving checks, but then instantly be disappointed you slept through some calving action because you won rock, paper, scissors and were snuggled in your warm bed.
Building fence is an ‘art’. An art you do not want to be standing on the wrong side of when rolling out wire. An art that leaves scars, sore muscles and spousal disagreements. An art that is never completed and always on the top of the to-do list.
You can never believe a darn thing your neighbour says about what he sold his calves for, what they weighed, how little they paid for hay or how much he spent on a quarter of land. Finances are never a taboo subject, but when asked the same question twice, you’ll never get the same answer.
Your go-to small talk question is 'how much rain have you got?'
You may actually find yourself dancing and crying when you do finally get rain after a long summer of drought and no grass. And your husband won’t even think your nuts for it. In fact, he may be dancing alongside of you.
Your photos on your phone and camera will be 80% cows, 10% other farm animals, 5% machinery parts and maybe 5% actual people or special events.
Your door is always open and the coffee is always on. Even when your door is closed, the lights are off, your pajamas are on and your coffee is cold.
Your neighbours, friends and family are always there. No matter what you need, what their commitments were or what they’d rather be doing. If you need a hand chasing yearlings, battling frozen waterers when your husband is 8 hours away, or to borrow a feed truck because yours is in the shop; they are the first to offer their help and the last to call it a day.