Maybe, when John Denver first read the words to “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” he visualized an idyllic, simplistic and peaceful life on the farm, never realizing how very wrong he actually was.
John probably didn’t intentionally mislead us. More than likely he just really, really liked the song, really liked the idea of an easy country farm life, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But How Could John Denver be so Wrong? What’s Not to Love About an Easy Country Farm Life?
Turns out, there’s plenty.
My own dear husband, The Rock, always wanted to live in the country. He has fond memories of visiting his grandparents, who lived waaaay out in the country. Or what I like to call The-Middle-of-Nowhere.
Image: Joel Davis-Aldridge, flicker.com
He loved everything about his grandparents’ farm in the country. He loved squirrel and deer hunting. He loved the peace and quiet of country life, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. He loved the delicious food his grandmother cooked for him when he came to visit.
And he loved to fish in their pond. Only we don’t call them ponds in Texas. We call them tanks, which are basically just really big holes in the ground filled with muddy brown water. For cows to drink.
So if you’re envisioning tranquil blue water with lush green grass growing along the banks – that ain’t it.
Picture instead a really big hole in the ground, filled with muddy brown water, surrounded by a muddy bank covered with lots and lots of deep muddy cow hoof prints. And then imagine each of those hoof prints as a sloppy, muddy bowl filled with stinky cow pee. And cow pies. Which are – in case you’re a blissfully unaware non-country type – piles of cow poop.
Oh, and the flies. Cow pies draw flies. Lots and lots of flies.
As unappealing as all this was to me, The Rock never saw it that way. He always wanted to live in the country. And be a farmer. More specifically a cattle rancher.
How The Rock views country living.
Image: Scott Bauer, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
How I view it.
Image: eye_0f_the_beholder, flicker.com
But The Rock always had his cattle ranching dream. So about 15 years ago we bought 100 acres and a herd of cattle. We officially became cattle ranchers.
Woo Hoo! Life was gonna be laid back and simple from here on out. Our days were gonna be filled with an easy country charm.
Or so you would assume if you took John Denver’s word for it. But as I said, he was so very wrong about country life.
John Denver Did Get Some Things Right Though.
See if You Can Find Them.
While The Rock’s daddy did teach him young how to hunt, he never owned or even played a fiddle. Nor did he teach his son to whittle.
So there’s never been any of that going on here at the Stone Cattle Company.
And while I am actually a fine wife (I moved to the country, didn’t I?) and I have indeed made many pancakes on a griddle, that part about life on a farm being kinda laid back? HAH! Lemme tell ya sumpin’.
Cows have to be one of the most ignorant animals on the planet.
Sure they start off insanely cute.
Image: Galia, Wikimedia Commons
Aww. Just looka dat cute widddle face. Who doesn’t love that?
But every single one grows into the same thing. A huge, dumb animal. Want proof?
Image: Agricultural Research Service
Look carefully at those faces. Possibly any one of several words may come to mind. Like curiosity. Or attentive. Maybe even thoughtfully interested.
But I can assure you, from hard-earned knowledge gained by several years of cattle ranching, those cows are thinking . . . absolutely nothing. Really. There’s nothing going on upstairs. Everything they do is pure instinct. Nothing else.
And what does their instinct tell them to do?
- Start a stampede
- Refuse to budge
- Go in exactly the opposite direction you want, when you just want them to cooperate and walk nicely, single file please, into the cattle chute
Once you do get them into the chute they will, without fail, do one (or all) of the following:
(And both in such copious amounts that it will without a doubt splash all over anyone standing within 10 feet).
- Freak out and start struggling like crazy then fall down.
Have you ever tried to get a 1,000-plus pound animal back on its feet? I didn’t think so.
You absolutely have to be okay with having cow pee and poop splashed and flung all over you if you want to keep the beasties alive. Because you have to get them into the chute in order to vaccination and deworm them.
Because if you don’t vaccinate and deworm cattle it’s for certain they will get sick and die.
When we were first starting our cattle ranching adventure we heard something cute a man once said about cows. He said, “A cow is an animal looking for a place to die.”
We got a real kick out of that one. Until we learned, the hard way, that he was right. Who knew there were so many diseases, viruses and bacteria that kill cows?!
When you’re watching one cow after another die, after you’ve pumped several hundred dollars of antibiotics into them, and they still keep dying . . . well, life is anything but a funny, funny riddle.
There is nothing easy or country-charming in the least about a cow with mastitis or a calf with scours aka diarrhea.
And another thing. Clearly, John Denver never lived and worked on an actual farm. Because if he had he’d have known that when the work’s all done and the sun’s settlin’ low the last thing you feel like doing is pulling out your fiddle and rosining up your bow. If you had one and could play it.
The only thing you have enough energy for at the end of the day on a farm is dragging your poop and pee spattered body into the house and collapsing until morning.
One thing he did get right in the song, though, was that line that goes, “I never was one of them money hungry fools.” Because if you think you’re gonna get rich raising cattle, you are indeed a fool.
When The Rock finally decided he no longer wanted to be a cattle rancher I can’t say I was the least bit disappointed. Actually I was ecstatic. And so was he, for a little while.
The day he told me “I never want to raise anything ever again that depends on me to keep it alive” I thanked God that my country boy had gotten his fill of being a cattle rancher.
But apparently he has a shorter memory than I realized. Because now he’s making plans and preparations for raising 200 chickens next spring.
Yeah, I still thank God for my country boy. But I will be glad when he’s had enough of all this easy country charm. It’s exhausting me.