By Baxter Black: On the Edge of Common Sense
Yes, Virginia, things have changed.
A 20-something couple I know has occasionally sought my counsel. They are married, both animal science graduates and still seeking direction.
He is a typical ag boy: strong, honest, with a good work ethic and background in purebred cattle. And he can weld. He’s doing graduate school but keeps busy with his Dodge dually and 20-foot Featherlight hauling livestock from purebred sales.
She grew up running a few gummer cows with her dad, working at the feedlot processing cattle and weighing grain trucks. She was president of the FFA and won the team penning three years in a row at the county fair. She wears the “Top Cowhand” buckle with pride. She’s working at a feed mill and going to night school getting a master’s degree to get a teaching certificate.
I have suggested since the time they were married that they would be the perfect couple to run some ranch or livestock farm. They are the penultimate production pair — the absentee owner’s dream. But their standard reply to me is:
“We don’t want to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day!”
What is wrong with these kids? I tell them I’ve never had an 8-to-5 job. What in the world would I do with two days off a week? In a row?
I look at the 21st-century veterinary profession. New grads don’t want night calls, weekend duty, investment in partnership. They want to raise a family. Spend quality time with their children. They don’t want to live 100 miles from the amenities of good schools, shopping and sophisticated entertainment.
What’s the matter with these kids? Don’t they know it’s not supposed to be easy? You’re supposed to be bone-tired at the end of a day, then do a c-section on a frozen hillside at 2 in the morning.
I remind them the early bird gets the worm. They say they’re not working for worms.
They remind me that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I say to them that dull isn’t all bad.
They say money isn’t everything. I say you don’t work for money, you work for work’s sake.
Then they say work isn’t everything.
I remember my childhood years visiting relatives in Oklahoma. My uncles were farmers, carpenters, and bricklayers. We would go by and watch them work. All except Uncle Leonard. He would take the week off and drive us to pick up bullets at the firing range, or rose rocks, or arrowheads, or fishing, to the sale, to the zoo or squirrel hunting.
The other uncles chastised him for not having his priorities straight. He should be plowing, or putting up hay, or helping them carry hod. It goes without saying that he was everybody’s favorite uncle.
I don’t know how I got off on talkin’ about Uncle Leonard. Now where was I…?
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: