When I flipped the calendar over to the month of May, I realized that it’s been a decade since our Lonesome Dove Ranch officially registered as a business. That also means that my Other Half and I will be celebrating ten years of marriage this month. I am not an expert in either topics of love or livestock, however apparently I have at least ten years of both under my belt and it’s very difficult, in fact darn near impossible, for me to separate the two.
There is a lot of compromise in marriage and in ranching, and our place is no different. For example, I ignore my Other Half’s perpetual teasing about my advanced age. I am, after all, an entire 122 days his elder which practically makes me a cradle robber and my poor husband a young, defenseless victim. Meanwhile, my dear, sweet husband overlooks the fact that I just about ran him over with a post pounder on two completely separate occasions. Oops.
When listening to other farmers and ranchers discuss what they love most about agriculture, a common refrain is their joy in working together side by side with their family. For spouses, it certainly can be a blessing and a curse. At times, ranching and marriage are both rife with challenges, but sometimes just as quickly as things can fall apart, they can be put right back together again. Amid the chaos there’s just enough charm and wonder scattered about in a relationship with your spouse and a relationship with your ranch to keep you curious about what’s around the next bend in the road.
My Other Half pushes my buttons all right, but he also pushes me out of my comfort zone, challenging me to do things I’d rather not do, but afterwards I’m glad that I did. He’s shown me that sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith and everything will turn out all right in the end. In turn, probably due to some nagging, er, “effective communication” on my end, he’s discovered that a leap of faith that has been well organized and thoroughly researched is good too. As a friend once described us, my Other Half is the throttle and I am the brakes, and it’s a simple and true estimation of our relationship and our ranch. Sometimes you need to speed up but you have to know when to slow down too. We’re on the same team, but what we both lack in patience, we make up for in stubbornness, so there is still ample room for personal growth.
Our lives have been full of beautiful occasions like the birth of our children, many family milestones, some productive growing seasons, and the recent record cattle markets. Most times though, our lives are comprised of seemingly insignificant things. Moments like riding together through a pen full of cattle, or receiving a handful of spring’s first crocuses picked by little hands, or discovering that someone stapled a rope to all of the tough gates so that their bride can easily open and close them while they cruise on through – those moments are what make our marriage what it is.
Our version of wedding vows included the same old vague “in sickness and in health” and “in good times and in bad” stuff, but ranchers could stand to add a few caveats when tying the knot. It might be more realistic to add something more targeted, like “during drought and during flood, through record high and record low cattle prices, in both minus and plus 40C temperatures, and through sleepless nights and pre-dawn mornings.”
In my entirely inexperienced opinion on matters of love and livestock, I would conclude that marriage isn’t for the faint of heart…. and ranching isn’t either. And I wouldn’t change a thing.