Coming Home: Sister on the ranch is friend for me, un-hired help for dad
by Jessie Veeder
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite parts about living back at the ranch is that my sisters have decided to re-plant roots in our hometown. Having a sister nearby as an adult is like having a best friend who doesn’t care if your floor is swept and will call you out on your questionable attitude without worrying about offending you.
Anyway, when it comes to ranch life and work, I’ve rarely seen my petite almost-5-feet tall big sister without heels on almost as many times as I’ve seen her on the back of a horse, so you can guess which sister and I get in the most ranch-related shenanigans.
And how much help the two of us have been for our dad throughout the years.
So this is a confession: My little sister and I can be pretty worthless when we get together. And contrary to our parents’ prayers and our husbands’ hopes, it hasn’t gotten any better as we’ve, ahem, matured.
Nothing exemplifies our incapabilities more than when we so generously volunteer to help our father move cows in the early morning and then linger in the house just long enough over a cup of coffee, a piece of toast, Little Sister’s missing boot and the hairdo I can’t fit under my hat so that Dad can get out the door, up the road and into the barnyard to catch our horses and assume the position of waiting patiently while he listens to our jabbering as we finally make it up on those horses.
The man is patient. He’s had to be out here in the wild buttes of Western North Dakota surrounded by girls. Sometimes I wonder if his life on the ranch as a father would have been a little easier if he would have had a boy tossed in the mix.
But he’s never once complained, and you gotta love him for it. He’s just grateful for the help, even when his help is riding a half a mile behind him talking over how weird it would be if we rode cows instead of horses as he works to keep the herd from brush patches in the morning that’s turned hot in the time he waited for us to join him.
Because we really are a lot of help, with one of us swatting and screaming at anything that resembles a bee and the other tripping over anything that resembles the ground.
To really paint you a picture, I would like to present to you an actual roundup script.
Pops: Just stay there, I’ll head up over the hill to look for more cows then we’ll move them nice and easy.
Jessie: I think we missed one. Should I go and get it?
Little Sister: Should I come with you? I should probably come with you … eeeek! A bee, eeeeeeeek!
Pops (racing through the brush and up a hill): Just stay there!!! Stay there! I’ve got it!
Jessie: Oooh, raspberries.
An undocumented amount of time passes.
An undocumented amount of raspberries are eaten.
Little Sister: Maybe we should go find Dad.
Daughters catch up with father who is behind 25 head of cows. The women are trailing four cattle and currently heading toward the wrong gate on the wrong side of the creek.
Jessie (hollering across the pasture): We’ve got these here… thought we were going to the other gate.
Pops (hollering from behind the cattle he’s just moved through a half-mile brush patch on his own): Actually you’re going to have to turn them or leave them because they’ll never make it across the creek.
Little Sister: Whaatt did he saaayy?!! Should I leave them???
Jessie: DAAAADDD, SHOULD SHE LEAVE THEM?
Pops: Yess, ssheeee sshhoullld leeaave them!!
Jessie: HEEE SAAAYSS LEEAAVE THEM!
“Slap,” a branch hits Jessie across the face.
Little Sister stops to double over from hysterical laughter.
Father rides up over the hill alone to finish collecting the cattle before all parties return to the barn where father thanks daughters for their help.
Don’t tell my husband about my hopes for another girl …