It is easy to be swept up in the idealized romance of the cowboy lifestyle. Handsome men on majestic steeds, silhouetted on the horizon by the setting sun. I love those aspects of my life. So, I am just as guilty as the next person of portraying the scenic side of ranch life. More often than not, being a cowman is just dirty, hard work. Who really wants to see sweat, mud, manure, and afterbirth?
Last week, we squeezed some quality family time in, while repairing a leaking stockwater pipeline. The day was brisk, but February had been unseasonably warm, so the ground is not frozen. My husband digs for the line in the vicinity of the leak. I herd the curious crowd of heifers gathered to watch the progress, toward the drain where they might get a drink. Once the line is located, we are belly-down in the mud trying to locate a pinhole leak.
We proceed to cut and remove the leaky portion of pipe. Unfortunately, this necessary step causes the hole to fill with water. While Guy constructs a patch, I begin bailing water. Minutes pass like hours as moisture seeps through my clothes. My coffee can and I make little noticeable difference in the water level. It gushes out of the severed pipe as quickly as I can scoop it out of the hole. Eventually persistence pays off, the flow of water tapers to a trickle. I begin scraping the bottom of the hole with my improvised scoop.
A few bad measurements and obscenities later, my partner has managed a functional repair. A knot of cattle gather around our work, curious or thirsty? As I stand guard over our hole while the line is charged, I cannot tell. I do know, that this little exercise in teamwork, is what real ranch romance is about.