This week is our wedding anniversary, and it is a big one. I started to say and important one, but all anniversaries are important — especially when you are as lucky as I am.

This one marks 25 years or a quarter of a century. That’s amazing considering what Jennifer has put up with. Since this is a special anniversary, I think we will credit the heifer we bought as our present. The traditional gift for 25 years is cows, right?

A recent day proved a typical example of why it defies all odds that Jennifer has stuck around.

Jennifer had the day off for Veteran’s Day. Most people who got the day off probably slept in, did something they were looking forward to and just generally enjoyed a leisurely day. Not my wife.

We had planned on doing some Christmas shopping and getting ahead of the holiday rush. All good planning, except we have cows. We just got the cows out to cornstalks and the deer have been out in full force and wreaking havoc on my electric fence. I had been out most of the day before, running cows back in and fixing fence.

So, we started the day going out at daylight to see just how many holes our fence had in it. To our surprise we just had a few insulators off and no cows out. That took a good hour to check, but it was much better than the day before.

Then we got to the weaned calves. For some reason or because of something, the weaned calves had gone through the fence three of the last four days. As Jennifer pointed out, it is hard to hold them in with dental floss, but that dental floss has worked in the past. Why they flatten a different part each night is maddening.

We got to them and about half were out. A new hole had appeared in the fence. With the patience of Job and the determination that would make a bulldog envious, Jennifer worked at the calves until she had them all in. Meanwhile, I fed the ones that were still captured and made sure they didn’t go anywhere. Then she watched the hole while I went for more panels and fixed a spot in the electric fence that the deer had made since we had checked it an hour earlier. This took us up until almost 10:30 a.m.

A quick count of the calves revealed that we did not have all of them. The rest were out somewhere in the pasture that surrounded the corrals. They would have to be found and captured, but first we needed to go to co-op and pick up the ton of feed I had not gotten to the day before because I was chasing cows. On top of that, I needed to feed some hay and do some watering that did not get done either. By then, it was obvious Christmas shopping was not going to happen that day.

I did what any good husband with any kind of survival instinct would do and promised that we would postpone until Saturday. She said that would be OK, but I could also see that she was somewhat dubious that it would happen.

The good Lord willing and if the cows will just cooperate, we should be able to go.

I know most of the guys out there are wondering why I am trying to go Christmas shopping. It is a tradition we started when we were first married, and to be honest it is something I look forward to each year. We try to go during the week when the stores are not so crowded, and I enjoy the time we get to spend together with no cows or sheep around. Those moments are rare.

That is the life Jennifer has lived for the last 25 years. Most of her time off is spent chasing cows or sheep and not doing the hobbies or things I am sure she would rather be doing.

She asked me once what I would have done if I had married a woman that did not do what she does. I told her I had not ever thought about it, but I am sure I would not have survived without her. The life of a farmer or rancher’s wife is not easy. It is filled with postponed dates, working vacations and disappointments. It’s probably a miracle any of us in agriculture have stayed married, and I have not even mentioned the trials of working cows or sheep together.

Looking back on the last 25 years makes me realize how lucky and blessed I am. It has not been easy — not even close. I cannot imagine life without her, nor do I want to.

I do not know what the next 25 years will bring, but I am sure they will be much better and less chaotic. I promise — unless the cows have different plans.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at