I can remember having cows around as early as my Junior High years. Even before my parents had land and bought cows, my grandparents had a small ranch in Cleburne, TX. Growing up with home-grown beef was terrific, but I realize now that I missed a great opportunity to learn about farming and ranching. Twenty some-odd years later I’m grown, have three kids and a husband, and I’m learning about livestock as if I were in Junior High all over again. I really wish I had spent less time pursuing cheerleading and more time hanging out with the kids in 4H. If I had, maybe I’d possess some of the knowledge I need to turn our small acreage into a self-sustaining farm.
We were introduced to prepping by another family in my son’s Boy Scout Troop in late 2009. We listened to podcasts on a road trip from North Texas to Connecticut and back. Storing food like my grandparents used to do, having enough gas on hand to avoid long lines at the pump, cultivating land for food production rather than energy consuming ornamental lawns – all of it made perfect sense. My husband and I had already recognized the vulnerability of our defenses after the bank and a string of houses were robbed in our small town. We went to an NRA safety course, learned how to shoot, and had been concealed handgun carriers for years. We were on-board with Dave Ramsey’s plan of having 6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund. Storing food and being self-reliant was a natural next step . . . in theory.
Somehow when the rubber meets the road, theoretical preparedness goes out the window and reality rears its ugly head. While we are more prepared now than we were just a few years ago, it hasn’t been without some losses due to lack of knowledge. For instance, did you know that a cow can jump clear out of an open-top trailer going 50 miles an hour down the highway? And chickens only lay eggs really well for about two years. Tomatoes won’t pollinate when the weather gets over 85 degrees and llamas can die of heat stroke if you don’t have them sheared every spring. Additionally, it doesn’t matter how tough you dress them, some llamas do not make very good guards and coyotes will still eat your chickens.
I know these are all minor inconveniences. But I can’t help but wonder: if I had spent my childhood growing things and learning how to care for animals rather than playing French-horn, beating Super Mario Brothers, and being a cheerleader, would there be one less cow wandering aimlessly down Interstate 20? I am resolved to encourage my own children to learn while they’re young and pursue things that will have lasting value, not the high score on the latest video game.
Next time: Holy Cow !!!
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