Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I knew that I ought to take one of the ranch trucks to our mechanic when I hauled the horses to town for Drill Team completely without brakes.  Bill, aka Wild Bill, aka Mad Mac, is an excellent mechanic who has a filterless vocabulary.  Whenever we leave his shop, I smell like reservation cigarettes, the kids have their pockets full of gumdrops, and I have to remind Dylan and Grady to never repeat anything they just heard.  This trip to Bill's was no exception.  I told Bill of the problem and he took a look at Big Blue.  "Fuck!  Fuuuuuck!  Goddamn you fucker!" he shouted from beneath the front end.  I wasn't entirely sure who he was talking to, but I assume it was me.  Dylan's eyes widened, and I gave her the "Don't tell your mother" look.  She was surprised, but not shocked; she's been going to Bill's with me since she was a baby.

But let's face it, we live on a ranch, in the country, where people name their pets things like Dammit (my favorite), or Shithead (or worse, but that's another post on racism, not swearing).  I've tried to shield the kids from hearing cursing, but one day in the corrals while we're working cattle sets us back three years.  I've also tried to rationalize swearing: I'm a rancher with an English degree, it's my duty to swear!  That argument makes little sense, I know, but it's the one I'm most fond of.  I also had the "swearing in context" conversation with the kids.  I was only 23% sure they really understood what I was getting at.  We talked about cuss words in songs (fun!), cussing on the ranch (mandatory!), and swearing at school (you'd better not).

But then this happened recently.  Again, it involves pulling a stock trailer to town, this time with Dylan's fair heifer in the back.  On the way I looked out at our neighbor's freshly cut grass field and saw a feral hog running right towards us.  We don't see wild pigs everyday, so I pointed it out to the kids as I slowed.  The hog didn't slow down, ran smack into the fence, bounced off, made a right turn, and kept on running.  Now we were driving alongside the singleminded pig as the kids leaned out the window to watch it and cheer it on.  I realized, a little too late, that we were both heading for the same gate-less corner.  Surely the pig will yield the right away, I dumbly thought as I banked into the corner.  For a second, I thought I was right, that the pig did, in fact, see the big truck and trailer coming, slowed or veered, and kept on going its merry way.  That's when the trailer ran over the hog.  It bounced up like I'd hit a large boulder and I yelled, "Shit!" I watched, in the passenger mirror, as the pig rolled out from the trailer and I looked at the kids and said, "Did you see that?  Holy shit!"  Remember, I was still driving, but I was spending a lot of time excitedly checking my mirrors and looking at Dylan and Grady.  That's why I ended up stacking the truck into the neighbor's fence.  Pretty sure I said a little worse than shit as I heard the screeeeech of wire on fender (GDFS is my go-to swear when it really hits the fan, so that's most likely what I said).  But see?  Swearing in context.  What a valuable lesson for the children.  I backed out of the mess with a scratched up truck and the pig ... it just kept on running.  And I'm 100% sure the kids understand my "context" explanation now.