A Little Bit Western


Old Yeller

Mar 1, 2016

Right or wrong, one of the communication tools I seem to use extensively in motherhood is hollering. It’s not usually the first technique I resort to using, but after trying methods such as having a quiet and rational discussion about a situation, I do find yelling to yield at least moderately effective results in my offspring. And if my hollering is not completely effective, at the very least it does allow me to let off some steam which is therapeutic in itself.

I know I’m not the first mom to yell at her children, however I feel that raising farm kids does cause me to holler things that my suburban mommy counterparts never would. Sometimes in the heat of the moment when I hear myself yell out loud, I have to just step back and contemplate how different it is to raise a ranch kid. The very things I holler at my children remind me that we are so very fortunate to raise our rural kids. I think…

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times, stay out of the afterbirth!” At this time of year, cows are busy birthing baby calves around our ranch, and with every calf comes a placenta that is often left scattered throughout the corrals. The slimy, gooey, gelatinous mass that is the afterbirth is a pretty strong magnet for inquisitive farm kids. It begs to be poked with a stick, or tapped with the toe of a rubber boot, or stuck on the end of a pitchfork to chase your sibling around with. In the continuum of gross things that ranch kids love to play with, afterbirth is boss.

“If you heel me one more time as I walk across the yard, so help me….!” I not only have the occasion to yell this out to my kids, I can honestly say I complain about this to my Other Half as well. I’m pleased that members of my family seem so adept at roping, but I would prefer if they use their clever skills on livestock and leave me out of their game. There has not been a single incident where roping me by my feet unexpectedly has improved my mood or the resulting mood of those around me. Just stop.

“If you stick that [insert toy/bracelet/ball/bicycle] down that [gopher/badger] hole, I am NOT going in after it!”  While I sincerely love our homestead, it is fraught with many holes, some of them quite large, and most of them all within a short distance of our house, garden, and play area. In the past our gophers not only added grey hairs to my head but I’m sure they shaved precious days off my life, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to spend any time peering down a hole wondering where that Hot Wheels car went. And I’m definitely not going to be sticking my arm down one of the many badger holes dotting our landscape to retrieve a beloved trinket. It’s gone. The end.

“Stop touching that dead [insert gopher/bird/mouse/frog]! Leave it alone!” While we are lucky to raise our children with an appreciation for life cycles and the natural world, I don’t exactly want them to touch every random dead critter they encounter. I certainly don’t make it a habit to have dead wildlife accessible to my children, but farm kids are attracted to gross things like, well, a fly to roadkill. If they spy something icky, they’re going to check it out. And if they go to check it out, they will poke it with a stick.

Just like all moms around the world, my curious kids keep pushing their boundaries and I keep nudging them back. It’s all a part of a healthy childhood, but when the playground is a farmyard, the limitations that are explored are just a little different than those of the average Canadian kid. As long as my little ranchers keep pushing the envelope, I’m probably going to keep yelling. Hopefully they learn a little something along the way.

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