Barefootin' Mama in the Middle of Nowhere

Branding… Pregnant Style

If anyone knows me very well at all they know that the one thing I am NOT good at is sitting on the sidelines and watching… (unless it is any sport that you have to play seriously and without being allowed the occasional beverage… because I am NO good at those types of sports and am more than willing to sit on the sidelines).
That’s why when Branding time came around I was chewing my nails as I was anxious about what would happen. I was only four months pregnant… hardly even enough to be telling people I was pregnant let alone letting it stand in my way but one can never be sure of anything.
Paul’s family’s branding was first. And since I had never been to their branding before I had no seniority to throw around to ensure that I got to do the things that I wanted. Or, anything at all, in this case.
The guys already had the cattle in and sorted by the time I got over there. But before we could begin the actual branding part we had to run the cows through the chute and vaccinate them. No big deal. There were enough of us that we all had partial jobs that were really easy. And by really easy… I mean like grade school coloring book easy. My job… the one that I had snagged to ensure I was doing SOMETHING… was to lift a large handle up to let the next cow in the chute and then pull it down to shut the gate behind her. Safe as eating apple pie…… it is a job that is so easy and meaningless I am sure that most people wouldn’t even remember that it is a job someone needs to do if they were asked to catalog all of the individual jobs involved in processing cattle. This fake job was so easy I would have let Paul’s four-year old nephew do it had he been out there looking for something to do. BUt he wasn’t… I was. And apparently the fact that I had a teeny-weeny little person in my belly… likely the actual size of a freaking Lima bean meant that I was incompetent. According to Paul’s dad anyway… because he was the one who took the job away from me. And I spent the rest of the day taking pictures… PICTURES… I didn’t get to needle… I didn’t get to tag…I didn’t get to do ANYTHING that was relevant to the day’s work. SERIOUSLY? I didn’t know pregnant was synonymous for “useless tit”. But as pissed off as I was I didn’t let it get to me because my parents’ branding was next… and I had been working at that thing since I was old enough to walk on my own so I would have some weight to throw around and should be able to do something really hands on… right????
I have never been more wrong in my life…
The day started out nice… sunny… the music sounded GREAT (because it always does when the weather is better.. right??) and I was going to go to my branding!! HOORAY!!! We got there in time to jump on the horses and go round up the cattle. That’s when I noticed that my horse wasn’t saddled… he wasn’t even caught. When the subject was broached everyone sort of shyly looked at their feet and tried to change the subject. Turns out they didn’t want me to ride. Considering my horse had a tendency to buck occasionally… okay, okay… every time he was mounted. SO? That was my decision to make…. or so I had thought.
Anyway, everyone rounded up without me… and attempted to do most everything else they could do without my help too. But much to their dismay I did land my eartagging job for the remainder of the day and so I was content… content enough I guess I should say.
All was well.. we worked hard, we got covered in dust and swallowed more than our fair share of it too. And when the end of the day came around we wiped the dust off our teeth and settled in for a delicious meal followed by a nice campfire with marshmallows. And that night when I went to bed before midnight at my own branding (a thing that had never happened before as I usually ended up pitting in for a drinking contest with someone and passing out at the fire somewhere around 4am before being hauled off to the closest warm place to have me sleep) I wondered if I was getting lame or growing up (because believe me those are two entirely different things)… and for a moment I was frustrated. Frustrated because nobody had asked me if I was willing to grow up yet… nobody asked me if I wanted to get pregnant and move in with a boy because I needed someone to hold my hair… nobody asked me how I felt about having to secretly sleep with my boyfriend in his parents’ house… and nobody freaking asked me if I wanted to round up cattle on my horse or not…. and that pissed me the hell off!

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