Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shipping, Part 1

To a cowboy, shipping means long days horseback. It means early mornings and late nights. It means riding through all kinds of country, gathering young cattle together, and pushing them back to the shipping pens. (by 'pushing', I don't mean with your hands. Some would call it 'herding') Shipping means hard riding and beautiful vistas. Sometimes it means riding through freezing winds. And occasionally, it means getting a chance to rope a bear. Not that they do. Or should. But the chance. Something about being horseback with a rope, make every cowboy wanna rope anything that they come across. I don't understand it, myself. Who in their right mind would try to rope a bear? But some do. Some, like My Cowboy, refrain from trying only because they know they are the sole provider for a family, and are too responsible to risk getting hurt. Bless him. But he still thought about it. Which I would never do. But I digress.
For the ranch wife, on the other hand, shipping means something a bit different. It means stumbling out of a warm bed in the predawn darkness. Trying to stop yawning while putting on the coffee, and frying the sausage. Mumbling a sleepy: "Be safe", before crawling back between the sheets. It also means waiting for My Cowboy till late in the evening. Waiting. Feeding the kids at 7 pm, and still waiting. I don't want to be the paranoid wife that is always calling, but I finally give in, and call his cell phone. No answer. Maybe he is doesn't have service, I reason. After all, he s riding back on some in-the-booney-ranch, who knows? So I wait. Then I call again. and again. After the 10th try, I give in and call the other cowboy, the boss, and the boss's wife. The boss's wife answers, but hasn't heard from them either. That's about the moment true worry sets in. You could probably call it 'suppressed panic', too, but that would be a bit embarrassing to admit. I start thinking of the time the boss was drug along, with his head banging the ground, unable to free his foot from the stirrup. Or the time my cousin got dumped and banged his head so hard he had temporary amnesia. Or the time the boss's partner lay, wounded, in the pasture...or the time my own Dear Cowboy had a horse wreck, and forgot where he was or what happened. I begin to pace, and watch the lane. About when I am planning his funeral, and what I am gonna have to do to support myself and three kids, I see truck lights. Relief. Such relief. And then as I realize he's safe, just late, with no call, I don't know whether to yell at him or hug him. When he walks slowly in the door, bone-weary and dog-tired, with a quiet: "Hi, honey, sorry I couldn't call ya, my phone was dead."
I hug him. He is so innocent. So tired. So hungry. So worn. I haven't the heart to tell him that i was so scared that he would never walk in the door again. So scared that my stomach hurt. So I feed him warmed over food, and fresh coffee. I ask him where he was riding that day, and where he will be riding tomorrow. I don't tell him that the reason I want to know is so I know where to go search for him. He doesn't need a crazy wife. He just needs a bed. 'Cause it starts all over at 4 am tomorrow. And before I go to sleep, I thank God that I have a husband to care for, for another day.

Note: Shipping happens in early fall. I write in random order. As you may have noticed. Enjoy. :) Photo credits go to Axel Selter.

1 comment:

  1. Kay, I love your blog!! I have done that so often only most of the time I don't react as well as you did when he finally does come in! You are a wonderful writer, keep them coming!


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