Don't jinx me
By Trent Loos
In case you don't have a teenager to remind you of this, there is quite a bit that a parent can and should learn from their kids. Yes, parenting is give and take, and if you constantly think you should only be teaching your kids, you will be in for some stark surprises.
Libbi, our 14-year-old daughter, is in a streak of taking her dad's eternal optimism as a jinx. Let me share a couple of examples. About a week ago we decided it was time to trail the cows home about 5 miles from the corn stalks. Libbi and I saddled our horses and the rest of the crew assumed their usual positions.
I like to always give Libbi words of encouragement about how well things are going and I suppose should also explain my desire to do that. After six years of being Dad's right hand on these roundups, she has become an outstanding horseman and I am now her right hand. However, she has learned that our missions rarely go according to plan. I like to seek opportunities to let her know that things are actually working so she doesn't start to assume that every time we do something, it will be a disaster.
Libbi and I successfully brought the cows to the corner of the stalk field just as Kelli showed up with the tractor and a bale that was supposed to entice the cows to follow her back home. As it turned out, the cows could have cared less about that bale and weren't as "out of feed" in the stalks as we had presumed.
There's a new fence along the first stretch of gravel road that we had to travel so the cows didn't have much choice but to follow the tractor even though they could care less about the bale. Halfway home I said to Libbi, "Boy, this could not be going any better, could it?" And if you have a teenage daughter you most likely have an inkling of the look that she shot me followed by this exact statement, "Dad, must you always jinx us?"
She no more than got that out of her mouth when the cows saw a hole into the bean stubble to the north. Libbi, being the cowgirl extraordinaire, galloped around them and got them back to the road. I was holding the cows from returning back to the cornstalk field but they changed course and ran to the bean field on the south side of the road. Libbi headed back south and we got them lined out and headed for home again. Our short 5-mile journey only took us about 47 minutes, start to finish.
So you would think that I would have learned a valuable lesson from this but apparently not. The next morning I loaded pigs and a horse and headed for Montana. The temperature when I left home was 65 degrees. After 7 1/2 hours of driving I found myself in Belle Fourche, S.D., and it was still over 60 degrees. No matter the temperature, I don't see any reason to pass a Dairy Queen and get a Blizzard so I pulled in.
While I was stopped, I made a quick post on Facebook, "61 degrees in Belle Fourche. Ideal weather for a blizzard." Yes, of course it was a play on words without considering the "jinx" omen of my 14-year-old. An hour and a half later as I was leaving Broadus, Mont., the temperature on my pickup thermometer dropped from 58 degrees to 32 in 7 minutes. I saw the biggest grey clouds roll in that I have ever witnessed. To make a long, treacherous story short, just 40 miles later I was in a hotel room in the middle of a REAL blizzard.
I shared this story on my Loos Tales radio program and the response I got from both fathers and daughters who had similar relationships was really cool. The moral of the story is that the relationship between parents and kids has never been more important. I truly believe that any time you have the opportunity to "solve problems together," you have really accomplished something and you strengthen the bond of your relationship. Nothing, my friends, will ever replace that teachable moment between a parent and a kid on horseback, regardless of which one gets to be the teacher.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.