A few months ago my mother was asked by an acquaintance how long she had been working like a man. It came totally out of the blue and both of us thought it was an odd question at the time. After some reflection I decided it wasn’t and isn’t such an odd question because in all actuality, my mother does work like a man.
My mom has a “regular” job as a receptionist, which isn’t so extraordinary but is typically a “woman’s” job and she also has a whole other job and that’s her man job. My mother will get up at zero-dark-thirty and go do the morning chores of feeding the heifers, feeding the bulls, feeding the horses and any other hungry mouth hanging around the barnyard! Then she will hop in the truck and help my dad load hay and help feed the cows and baby calves out in the fields and she’ll turn around and do those same jobs again in the evening before going home to make dinner, do laundry, clean house and get ready for her regular job the next day.
Mom will also get up at the crack of dawn, run the horses from the pasture into the corral , catch them, saddle them, load them in the horse trailer and then zip to the house and make lunches for a long day of moving and working cattle. She will get home at dusk, feed people and animals, shower and fall in bed just to turn around and do it all again the next day. She will also spend an entire day cutting calves from cows so she can then help brand, vaccinate and ear tag them, all the while getting kicked, shit on and chased down by angry mama cows! She’s been thrown off horses, stepped on by any number of animals and even had a cow throw her against a fence and break her arm, yet she still keeps on tickin’!
My mother does all of this because she believes in the life my parents have built and simply because she has to. The margin between success and failure is fairly narrow for farmers and ranchers and everyone has to do their part. I guess you could say she is the very definition of a feminist but don’t tell her that because she hates that label. She is a ranchers wife, doing what she has to do because in her world that IS what you do. You don’t do it because you are a man or a woman, or to prove a point, you do it because someone has to get the work done.
So the answer to the question, “how long have you been working like a man” is basically…always and she is doing the same thing many of the pioneering women that came before her did, which is being a woman and working like a man.