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Irons in the fire: Do you have the time?

Paul Marchant Published on 27 March 2015

Punctuality is a highly prized trait in my world. The reason for its value is because of its rarity. It’s not that I don’t have good intentions, of course. I hate being late. But I’ve laid far too many bricks on the good intentions pathway. If it’s true about where that pathway leads, then I’m well on my way to a warmer climate.

I’m never quite sure about what time this meeting or that appointment really starts because my wife tends to take a few liberties with the truth when she tells me the time of meetings, especially if she’s expected to attend, too.

When I started to figure out that 6:30 really meant 7:00, and that it was really funny how sometimes they’d start church a half-hour late because everybody in the congregation was punctually challenged, I started to catch on to her tricks.

Now she changes things up. Sometimes she changes the time by 15 minutes, sometimes by 30 minutes, and occasionally she flat-out tells me the truth. It keeps me on my toes. Do you realize how tough it is to consistently be 10 minutes late to things when you’re never quite sure of the real start time? It truly is a logistical nightmare. I’ve had to learn how to adapt.

We live 25 to 30 miles from Burley, depending on which route you take and which end of town a particular destination is. It takes some real planning to be fashionably late for every appointment.

On top of that, I have to keep track of which meeting is on the second Tuesday and which is on the first Thursday of the month. I’ve actually shown up nine days early to the 4-H leaders’ council meeting because I was a half-hour late to the fair board meeting that was, strangely, not scheduled at the BLM office on the same night as the school bond election meeting.

I was in a real mess when I went to Washington, D.C. for some Farm Bureau meetings the day after daylight saving time began. Are you kidding me? A two-hour time zone difference with another hour change thrown in for good measure – that’s a pretty tough pitch to hit.

A couple of weeks ago, I got home from a meeting with the county commissioners just before dark. When I walked through the door, cussing because I could see the horses hadn’t been fed, my wife informed me that the boys were out in the heifer pasture with Grandpa taking care of a heifer that was having trouble calving.

I changed my clothes and hurried out to the scene of what I imagined to be a genuine wreck.

By the time I arrived, they had the heifer roped and tied to the pickup. They already had the chains on the calf’s feet, and things looked to be in pretty good order, considering the luck we usually encounter.

Although the heifer was on the fight, she was worn out enough from trying to calve, that a fairly weak matador impression on my part was enough to escape her attempts to run me down.

Although the calf was coming with the front feet in normal position, there was no nose coming out with the feet. I did some fishing, first with my left arm and then with my right. Finally, as I was shoulder-deep in Angus-Limousin cross, I was able to grab the calf’s head and maneuver it into the proper position.

Once that was accomplished, the calf slipped right out. And in spite of the new mother’s reluctance to have anything to do with the cause of her considerable discomfort, both mother and her new baby were fine. We loaded her in the trailer and took her to a pen in the corral by the house where we could help her cultivate her maternal skills.

The next morning was initial weigh-in day for the county fair steer program. Because my youngest son won’t be around for the fair this year, for the first time in 20 years, I had no kids to roust out of bed at 5 AM and no steers to load.

However, as fair board president (a position to which I was elected because I was late for the meeting on the day of elections and could, therefore, offer no opposition), I had an obligation to assist at the weigh-in.

I pulled up to the scales at the sale yard at one minute before 7:00 – right on time. As I took my place at the controls of the hydraulic chute to begin the festivities, I informed Joel, the county agent, and Todd, my fellow fair board member, that I was quite proud of myself for my timely arrival because I couldn’t find my watch.

The last time I had remembered seeing it was shortly before I’d dived into the heifer the night before. Joel had a good laugh at the thought of my watch being lost in the depths of the uterus of a black cow.

Without missing a beat, Todd offered me some advice on maintaining a reproductively sound cow herd. He said, “You’d better be sure to cull that heifer. If she has your watch inside her, she’ll never breed back on time.”  FG