The game is played like this: 2 kids, 2 shovels, 1 cow pasture. Each player may stand no more than 10' from the other. When a player finds a fresh pile of cow manure, player must strike the pile with the back of the shovel and splatter opponent. After 1 hour, player covered in lesser amount of poop wins. Or this: 2 players, 2 bb-guns. Ok, you probably know what happens next, right, One-Eyed Mike? This is a small sampling of the games I played growing up. Not once did I sit for a game of Monopoly, but Rat-Batting? A little too much. Some "games" were thinly disguised ways of my parents getting free ranch-work. Castrating calves is fun if you save the fuzzy little scrotums for Evel Knievel action figure helmets! I bought it then, and now Dylan is all in on the concept, too.
I haven't sold her on the fuzzy helmet idea, yet; she still is a little freaked by the bawling and clatter of working cattle. Grady's the same, and I can't blame either. Cattle work is a messy, loud day. Grady, when he joins us in the corrals, simply yells at the cows (or me), then sobs. Dylan turns her head, draws dinosaurs on the back of vaccine boxes, finds a happy place -- then falls asleep. Sometimes, though, I'm able to get some work out of her. Remember the game "Pick up Sticks"? I don't either, but I told Dylan it was a game all kids played and it was easy to learn. I just put her in the feedlot and told her, "Go pick up sticks." We piled branches while her pink school-shoes and white tights got covered in "dirt" (remember, it's a feedlot). We had a blast. Dirty work that culminates in a giant bon-fire, what could be better?
Grady's starting to work with me a lot more, but at his age, there's little I need to bribe him with more than, "You want to hang out with Dad? Come with me!" I'm sure I'll be packing a snack bag full of candy soon enough.
Until Dylan is big enough to swing a shovel or pack a bb-gun, we'll keep her in cowgirl-princess workwear and hopped up on candy. And I'll be getting the one thing that has kept agriculture alive in the U.S. for the last one-hundred years: free child-labor.