It’s 6:50 a.m. and we’re off to the catch the bus. Listening to Tim Lorenz and the Morning Brew on KASL radio out of Newcastle, it’s a fairly calm and quiet commute. The boys might have a morning wrestling match or duke it out over who gets to ride in the front seat, but it’s a pretty even routine.
Heading back home once they’re dropped off, it’s time for me to feed the heifers and the few remaining calves. While listening to the remainder of the KASL morning program, I catch the news, hear what’s for sale on tradio and sometimes hear the livestock markets. I even hear about “important” research taking place across our country. Just this morning, as a matter of fact, I learned that you’re more likely to die in an accident if you wander around the world with headphones hanging out of your ears. They know this because when they arrive at the scene of some wrecks, the deceased sometimes still has headphones hanging out of his or her ears. Hating to miss an opportunity to put this newfound wisdom to use, I shared it with Bryce when he arrived home from school. I felt it was important for him to know that the risks to his health from earphones reach far beyond the immediate threats from his parents.
He doesn’t listen to headphones much these days, and we’ve always kept it to a minimum since it drives us both crazy. Bryce is instead opting for the pickup radio, or is that “sound system?” At 3:30 p.m. the calm morning routine for the ranch pickup comes to a screeching halt. It quickly morphs into a three-quarter ton, fire engine red, radio-thumping pasture-cruising machine, complete with a Hydrabed toting a round bale. The once empty and dust collecting CD player is loaded with bass-thumping CDs like “Jock Rock.” I turned it on the other morning and looked around wondering if I was at a pep rally instead of in our yard.
Folding the back seat up, Bryce puts his dog Bailey in the back and rolls the window down so she can catch a little breeze. And, they’re off! As “off!” as you can be in second gear that is. He uses every last ounce of daylight before returning to the buildings. If he wasn’t less than a mile from the house, I might fret about the diesel he’s burning.
Being able to hear Bryce feeding the cows, whether it’s the hum of the engine or the thump of the radio, from a pasture away does provide some peace of mind while he’s learning to drive. Plus, the cows seem to like Bryce’s noisy approach and the time he spends scratching their heads and prolonging the chore. I think they look forward to seeing him for more reasons than hay, perhaps the shear entertainment value.
Joshua opts to stay in the yard and play with the dogs, having not yet acquired a taste for cruising the pasture while listening to loud music. His day will come, and a decade from now Chris and I will be out in the pasture wondering why the cows no longer come when we honk the horn or yell, “Come boss.”
We’ll have to expand our musical collection, remembering they’re more in tune to the thump of the bass these days.
Jennifer Vineyard Womack is executive director of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and a freelance writer. She can be reached at Womack@Wyoming.com or at 307-351-0730.