It’s Okay To Cry Over Spilled Milk
By Cheyenne Glade Wilson
January 15, 2019
Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it. I’ve been waiting for a good time to tell this story and since I recently discovered that "Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day" is February 11th it’s too perfect to pass up this opportunity!
This story begins during calving season, which is also almost upon us also. Shane and I weren’t married yet. In fact, we had only been together a little over a year when this happened. We hadn’t quite figured out all the quirks with one another or what really pushed each other’s buttons. Let me tell you, by the time calving season was over that year we definitely had a lot less mystery in our relationship. Back in the spring of 2006, we were just starting out on our own. And as ranchers know, every life mattered then as it still matters now for all of us trying to have a solid bottom line each year. We just so happened that day to be grafting a calf onto a first-calf heifer that really wasn’t having it. So, if you’ve found yourself in that position you might imagine what the scene looked like.
*Caption this! This wasn't the particular cow I'm writing about now, but this isn't uncommon when grafting on a calf. :)
The cow’s bag was tight, she was on the fight, and our emotions were high because this was a tedious, important job. We managed to put her in the chute and get a halter on her with a long lead rope. We had gotten her out of there and tied up to a railroad tie in the corral. The calf was about half there as it was chilled down and had yet to drink any milk/colostrum. Folks who work with cattle, horses, or other farm/ranch animals know how important that first nourishment is. We knew we had to milk this cow and get it into the lifeless calf if it was going to have any chance of survival.
We knew working as a team was our best bet. So, Shane being much bigger and stronger than I was got the cow pushed up against the side of the loading chute still tied up to the tie. She was leaning back with all her might. She looked like a huge fish on the end of a line flailing around, but he finally managed to get her situated. I was carrying the bucket. He managed to get some milk in that bucket, but it wasn’t nearly enough. She started fighting around so Shane pulled her tail up between her legs and told me to come and hold it.
Okay, this is where I will plead my case. Back then I was 120 pounds soaking wet. I had gone on a big diet prior to meeting him and had lost a lot of my strength in the process. So, what I used to be able to do one-handed was difficult for me with both hands. I took a hold of that tail with dread in my gut. I pulled up like he said to as hard as I could. He kept milking. The cow fought. He milked some more. She started to buck around and kick. And I bet you can guess. Yep, she kicked free. In the process not only did she kick him in the head as he was bent over milking, but she knocked the bucket over also.
The expletives began to roll out. I stood up as quickly as I could as she had knocked me down in the process. I was hurting and mad. Shane was mad. The cow was mad. I did what any self-respecting, pitiful person would do who wasn’t able to hold up her end of the job. I started crying. The more I cried the madder I got. The cow was taking Shane for a ride on the end of that fishing line and the bucket rolled over to me. Out of anger and stupidity I grabbed the bucket and threw it across the wall. I honestly didn’t think there was any milk in there and of course there was. It went everywhere and on both of us. You might have thought World War III had just started. I know this…I felt like the dumbest person in the world at that given moment. There wasn’t a single thing that could be said by me to really make what I’d done make an iota of sense whatsoever. So, the tears kept on streaming. Shane hadn’t even had a chance to look at me. I honestly don’t think he wanted to because he was so mad at what was going on.
One thing about jobs on the ranch. You don’t quit until you’re done. So, back to work we went. I held the tail once again. The whole time I was praying under my breath that I wouldn’t let go. Shane managed to get more milk and what he thought would work. When we were finished, I got the heck out of there. We went on to get that milk into a bottle and into the calf. That calf lived and actually was a whopper come shipping time that fall. The heifer turned into a heck of a mama cow. However, I secretly called her, “Hell Bitch” every time I saw here, but I had my reasons. I’m sure she called me appropriately, “Weak Woman Who Cries”. I have to chuckle about that as I type this.
One thing about it the things we do on the ranch don’t segregate us. They draw us closer to one another even when what happens from start to finish isn’t perfect. I learned that certain words from Shane weren’t really directed at me. Frustration wins sometimes, but at the end of the day we love one another fiercely. I’ve seen a t-shirt online lately that really brought this story back to me. “Sorry for what I said when we were working cattle”. I think I need to get that for Shane for Valentine’s Day!
As far as what happened, it was just like the spilled milk on the loading chute. It slid off. We went on to get married that June and that began years of togetherness, cussing while working cattle, a few more tears here and there, and a successful ranching business. We now have a son who is aware of all things here on the ranch. He’s seen a few of my frustrated tears. In the beginning he didn’t quite understand and thought I was hurt. He now understands that sometimes his mom let’s frustration and emotion win over, but that I’m okay. I just show my emotions a bit different and in the end it’s okay to cry over spilled milk once in awhile!