Farming, ranching life about persistence

By Baxter Black: QCS columnist

Persistence in the face of adversity — a sign of inner strength, a thick skull, or desperation.
We were driving back to see the folks in Oklahoma and passed a snapshot of persistence in the face of adversity.

A well-used pickup was parked on the edge of a lawn next to the road. There was a homemade “For Sale” sign on the windshield and the hood was up. A man dressed in sweat pants and a T-shirt was attaching jumper cables to the battery. Another man, possibly a potential buyer, looked on, arms crossed and a scowl on his face. He didn’t look impressed. You could almost hear the owner saying, “Like new, one owner, rebuilt engine, good tires…” then leaping in the cab, the slow grind then clicking into silence. As we drove by, my wife said sympathetically, “What a drag.”

I had a hard day last week, spilled a sack of popcorn in the suburban, had a flat tire on the wheelbarrow, let the stock tank run over, and didn’t get a thing done I had planned that morning. But I was going roping so I hooked up the trailer, saddled my horse and started to load him. Suddenly I noticed he was limping. “What a drag.”
We have a motto here at the ranchito. “Nada es facil.…” Nothing is easy.

Yesterday we were putting up Mexican clay tiles on the shop roof. Lacking three lines to finish I drove an hour to town only to find they only had pans, no covers — bottoms, no tops. The whole town was out of them, so I bought 80 bottoms, which means we had to drill holes in 40 to use them as covers. That ruined my masonry bits…so back to town. Persistence.

Dig a 3-foot posthole by hand, then find it’s one foot off the property line. Cuss, exhale, and dig another one. Save your best heifer, breed her to the neighbor’s best bull. Keep her with the small bunch closer to the house. Watch her bag up, then find her and her new calf both dead one mile from the house. “What a drag.”

Bow yer neck and keep goin’. That has been the name of the game in farming and ranching since Noah planted the first row of corn. I’ve watched hard workin’ folks push through, around, over and by obstacles, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, third down and ten. Get knocked down — git back up.

Little things like runnin’ out of staples two hours from the hardware store, or big things like floods, hurricanes, blizzards and Parkinson’s disease.

We all enjoy seeing fellow humans win the Lotto, survive a wreck unscathed, or make a good bronco ride. But it is our resilience, our quiet courage, our persistence in the face of adversity that gets children raised, wars won, and lets good guys finish first now and then.

The human spirit is made of rawhide; the heat of battle makes it hard, tears make it soft.