Well Howdy Wranglers!
The longer you get to stay in this trip called “Life”, the more questions become apparent.
With my Dad’s recent passing, at the proud age of 91, some of those come into focus worth sharing, at least in my humble opinion. He lived many lives during his time, had various businesses and realistically speaking, two families. He had five children with my Mom, who passed in 1971; and then remarried at 50 to have a wonderful daughter with his second wife. Those of us who grew up when he was younger know him one way and then watched in awe how he raised his last daughter. Different men it seemed, different times and different ways.
That led me to the question, how did I become who I am today? Looking around at others my age, many seemed to have moved a lot, had different jobs; some are still looking for the golden cup of their purpose and destination in life. For better or for worse, I always knew what I wanted. Growing up watching way too many John Wayne movies, the romance of the western lifestyle and the ‘Code of the West’ was firmly implanted. Only Life taught what that all really means, like Respect, Integrity, Grit and Faith, easily talked about and appreciated, yet much harder to live.
To help me sort through the “Integrity” part of it, I have always maintained that my Mom sits on my shoulder and helps me to decipher the vast ‘grey’ areas of life, those that clearly fall between the obvious right and obvious wrong of any given situation. Put simply, if my Mom was there watching me, would I choose route A or Route B? Over time that simple thought sorted out much of my road in life.
Be it calving season, and we are fully in it now, or time to make hay, the “Grit” part is the ‘digging down and finishing it’ part of this job that sometimes takes everything you have to give and then some. It appears that it always requires of you those last few percentage points of ability and willingness that truly test your commitment to the job, life and those around you. It is easy to make hay when the weather is perfect, like last summer, it takes all you got when you have 50 acres down and dry, and the weatherperson say the rain will start tomorrow at 11 and you work around the clock to save the feed for the cows for next winter. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t, still need to get up tomorrow and go again.
“Respect” is a whole other topic, so interpretive it seems and yet so simple, really. Be it Mother Nature, who is really the one in charge if you think about it, from weather to health to food and water, all so connected and yet paid so little heed, her actions influence my feelings of happiness, contentment and achievement. Then there is the respect for the hard earned dollars many spend here to ride and spend time; respect for what it took for them to earn the money that in turn helps us to be here. And then there is respect for the ‘fear’ that many bring with them, and for the person as a whole. In the end everyone does their best in life and/or struggles with determining what that really is too them.
That leaves the difficult subject of “Faith” with many meanings to many people. For me it is quite simple. When you have a wreck in calving, losing the cow and her calf or any combination of horrible events, the “why are we doing this” question is on the very tip of every word and thought. Yet the next birthing will be a set of twins, or a calf with a ‘look’ that just makes you laugh and be in complete wonder of Mother Nature’s way to heal.
Life is a one way journey, I do not fear reaching my end of this journey because events long ago led me to the firm belief that when it is my time then it will be my time so there is 0 (zero) use in worrying about it. Until then just give it all you have. Get it done. Honour all and everything around you, the people you meet, the horse you ride, the sunrise and sunset, allow yourself to see and wonder at all the truly wonderful things we are witnessing, focus on the positive and do your part to make the world a better and happy place for all to grow, have faith in your neighbour, colleague and the stranger, have faith that you are meant to be the best you can be. Good luck in figuring out what that is to you.
Very good friends of ours, Sandy and Bruce, who NJ and I re-met last year in Niagara at a public speaking engagement to celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society’ (PALS), told me the ‘Ramblings’ had become too ‘edited’, clearly reflecting my efforts on behalf of NDACT and F&WF to represent them well, so with that work lightening up, I hope these Ramblings are truly ‘rambly’ enough for you to enjoy.
The last thought to share on this is this, maybe there is no “Code of the West”, maybe it is just a Code for everywhere, everyone, maybe it is just a Code for being human.
Hope to see you out here this season,