Tuesday, September 23, 2014

7-minute Summer

The raid on bin Laden's compound.  The Mars Exploration Rover mission.  Madonna's "Who's That Girl?" World Tour.  I used to think the man hours involved in planning those events was beyond anything I could imagine.  Since I've had kids, I think I could strap the boob cones on Madonna with one hand, operated the Rover remote with the other, and repel into Abbottabad by my feet, and still have plenty of free limbs for hay season and kid shuttling.  In other words, parenting sure makes you get your shit together.

Needless to say, we're no busier than any other family.  And the upside to our hectic schedule is that the kids have spent a lot of time working with me this summer.  Dylan, the animal lover, used to get bored quickly on the swather.  Now, she plays the "Let's Count Bugs" game.  It's exactly as it sounds.  Thousands of ladybugs, aphids, caterpillars, and spiders accumulate on the header of the swather and Dylan tries to inventory them all.  If it's a slow day, she'll keep track of the mice and squirrels I mow over.  If it's a really slow day, she'll start asking questions.  "Why are our legs longer than our arms?" was a fun one to answer.  When she stated, "I have all sorts of questions about my body," I replied, "Oh look, a ladybug!"

Grady's my tractor man.  Sure, he likes being horseback, and his asthma can withstand a few hours on the baler, but his absolute favorite thing to do is ride along on our oldest, most beat up county-auction rig: The Scoopmobile.  It's a big orange beast that's difficult to steer, the cab is full of contusion-causing edges, it's deafening, and it often dies in the middle of a job.  Basically, it's awesome.  He rides shotgun as we turn big piles of dirt into small piles.  Sometimes we do that for no reason other than it's manly and fun.

We can't breath, but the sunsets sure are pretty.
Sure, there were quite a few things that our schedule, or nature, wouldn't allow for this summer.  Our annual lake adventure got buried in smoke by the local wildfires.  I missed a trip to Pismo Beach with the gang because we were cutting our first crop.  And my goal of trying to stay fit was fulfilled by finishing the 7-minute workout exactly twice.  But we did some great things too.  We drove to lookouts, we made it to the Oregon coast, the kids had swimming and horseback riding lessons (although not at the same time), we rodeoed, and we started an evening tradition called "Grab a beer, load the kids and dogs, we're cruising the gulch in the Ranger." I know, the name needs work, but it's a fun outing.

Someone recently asked me how my summer was going.  I surprised myself when I replied, "Fun!"  It feels masochistic to stack a full load of kid activities on top of work, but the greatest thing about being a rancher (aside from the lavish lifestyle), is spending work time with Regina and the kids.  A few hours cutting hay with Grady and Dylan (and Buster and Scout), or a cattle drive up Miner's Creek with the family makes the long hours and hectic schedule all worthwhile, and feels better than that one hand on Madonna's boob cone.