I was supposed to meet up with a girlfriend last weekend. It had been an extremely long week battling Mother Nature when she decided to unload another snowstorm on us. It was hard to tell exactly how much snow, as the ground was warm and the first couple of inches melted pretty fast, but the dumb stuff just kept coming. All said and done it was probably around 7 to 8 inches. The fortunate part was there was minimal wind, but with semi-impassable roads, and the lakes already at levels I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, my frame of mind was struggling.
I had finished feeding at the North Place — the Boss Man’s Wife had ridden with — in decent enough time I thought I’d make plans for the evening considering that’s what some people do on Saturday night, or so I’ve been told. I was going to head home, shower and change before driving down to McConaughey for supper (dinner to you city folk). After rodeoing through 10 miles of what was once a gravel road, I decided that there was no way in heck I was going through that mess again, and maybe staying home and heading out early on Sunday morning back up to the North Place —hopefully before the ground thawed out too much — to feed was probably a lot smarter thing to do.
I called the girlfriend from the shop office to let her know. Somehow, the conversation escalated and, in a weird serious of twists and turns, ended up with me being double dogged dared (mature for our age, I know) to go put on my unicorn onesie and head out with the 9-foot-long blow-up unicorn beach toy.
I’ve become pretty cautious over the years at what bets or dares I take, as there was one not very long after college that I lost when playing in a golf tournament. Seriously, what’s the odds of getting a hole-in-one, in a rainstorm, and on the next hole! Since there was nothing on the line, except the possibility of a laugh or two, I headed to my house to change into my unicorn onesie, and grabbed the blow-up unicorn to take to the shop for air.
Ten minutes later, I found a long yellow nylon rope, and there I am pulling the inflated unicorn from the shop and down the driveway in a white unicorn onesie, complete with snow boots.
The Boss Man just happened to be driving into the yard with the JD 7810 and I stopped him.
“Can you pull me down behind the house?”
“With the tractor?”
“Tie it on.”
Complete deadpan from the Boss Man as I tied on the unicorn, and went for a joyride across the yard. I’m sure in his mind there’s one part of him that’s thinking that his 30-plus year-old daughter needs to get off the ranch, or maybe there’s that part of him that’s thinking, “This is what I’ve come to, pulling humans dressed up like unicorns on a unicorn with the tractor.”
Either way, I wasted a half hour on a beautiful Saturday evening doing something I hadn’t done much of this winter and that’s laughing.
Agriculture is tough. I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it. This winter, it has been one of the toughest I’ve seen for a lot of people. Multiple times a day, I’m receiving phone calls or messages from people either donating hay, supplies, or funds, or needing them. Wanting to do our little part in the blizzard/flooding, what started as one load of hay to a producer friend in the eastern part of the state has now turned into a large multi-state outfit where another girlfriend and I have been assisting in getting hay to producers who need it and helping to figure out trucking for those loads that need to be sent. It’s been rewarding, heartbreaking, and even though there really is not time in the schedule to make the commitment, sometimes it’s important to help others out that need a hand.
At the end of the day, maybe we all need to refocus. Do something a little out there like riding a unicorn around the yard, or helping those who may need a hand up. The satisfaction we can get from having a laugh or two, or the fullness in your heart, makes our own personal trials just a little easier to face.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.