My rancher husband and I were out checking water and he asked me to open a gate. As usual, he was driving, so being the dutiful ranch wife ninja that I am, I jumped out of the moving pickup — ranchers like that you know, shows you are on the ball — even if the pickup is winding down to a stop and only going about 1/10th of an inch an hour, it’s moving, so it still counts!
I unlatched the 50 or so fasteners that range from chains and bailing twine to metal clips as I have learned this is the way of the West — rather than take the time to replace a damaged gate — ranchers just keep wrapping it up until it looks like a straightjacket wrapped around two boards. I finally get the gate open, and as my husband swooshes through the opening at his usual breakneck speed, he yells, “Leave it open, be back in a minute!”
As I watch the backend of the pickup fade into the distance, I realize I have been in this position before, several times. “Leave it open” means I have to stand there and make sure no cows escape until he returns because the gate takes too long to unlatch and open again. So, I wait. And wait. And wait.
One by one the cows come up and sniff me, wondering what kind of new fangled fence post I am. Cow No. 110 goes so far as to stick her wet tongue in my ear, and if you know cows, you know that is not a pleasant experience. Not only are their tongues dripping with slobber and half digested cud, they have the texture of very coarse sandpaper. After I yelped and shoed her away, the whole herd took off running, making my defense of the open gate less critical.
Boredom was setting in, but fortunately I had my cell phone with me. I sent a text message to a friend and explained to her my situation.
“How long has it been?” she asked.
“Long enough, I think I just saw a couple of buzzards do a flyby,” I answered.
A few more exchanged text messages and a couple of games of Solitaire later, I finally decided I needed to take action. It had been 45 minutes and that’s about the limit of my “leave it open, be back in a minute” patience. My plan was to close the gate and walk until I found my husband, it seemed like a better option than just standing around.
I closed the gate and took care to reattach all of the gate fasteners as I sure didn’t want a cow to get out on my watch, been there, done that, and it’s not a pleasant experience when the rancher finds out. Just as I was closing the last fastener, guess who showed up?
“I thought you were going to leave it open,” he said.
“I thought you were just going to be a minute,” I replied.
An eye-roll standoff ensued.