Despite the fact that we're both ranchers, I'd always thought that I was just a tiny-sliver more cautious than Dad. Dad hops on any horse, trained or not, and rides the buck out of him. I work with young horses for hours on the ground before I'm confident enough to climb aboard. Dad balances precariously on the back of a moving hay truck, one hand clinging to a little piece of twine that could snap at any second, the other hand pulling off hay for the cattle; I gingerly climb to the top and kick the hay off from the center of the load. Every nut Dad tries to loosen is a probable self-inflicted wound with a wrench; I spray WD-40 on rusted bolts until they shine like they've just been purchased at the hardware store.
But it's catching up with me, as the hazards of this job often do. When Regina was seven months pregnant with Dylan I took a horse to Anderson for surgery. On the way home I rolled the ranch truck on I-5. Fortunately Grant, who was with me, wasn't hurt, and we'd left the horse at the vet's, but my right ear was nearly torn off and for a few weeks it stuck straight out. Regina called me Shrek. I preferred "White Barack."
I'd made it eight and a half months through this pregnancy without incident. Then I decided enough of this stupid caution and got on a horse I'd been training. Apparently, this horse only likes people on the ground, admiring his towering beauty and feeding him grain. On his back, he thought, people weren't so cool. It wasn't getting bucked off that hurt (although it did), it was the little tap-dance he did on
This, I realize, is no way to introduce you to our new baby (but you already knew we had a boy, right?), and it certainly isn't giving Grady Jay, or Regina, the props they deserve ... but more will come later. I promise.
It's what I think about, though: raising a son who will, most likely, be a little like me, whether he embraces it or not. And, despite the crooked shoulders, giant ear, and asymmetrical face, I keep telling myself, being a little like your old man, that's not really a bad thing.