Why plans are for nought

On Sunday I sat my husband down and told him we had to get serious.  (Actually, I cornered him while he was driving.)  The point was, I needed to pin down his plans for the week so I could proceed with my own plans for the week.  That’s the funny thing about life for a ranch couple:  our family plans are irretrievably entangled with the demands of my husband’s job — demands that are as unpredictable as the mood of a coworker, the behavior of a cow, or the change of Montana weather.

I grew up in this lifestyle.  I’m pretty used to it.  Still, I kinda like to know a little bit about what I’m going to be doing at least a little ahead of time — so I can keep or cancel appointments, buy groceries, schedule in laundry and bathing, etc.  This week, in particular, I needed to know which days I would be cooking for crews of what size.  If he thought I’d be able to take our kids to their scheduled dentist appointment on Friday.  If he thought he would get to accompany us to our niece’s last volleyball game of the season on Saturday afternoon.

So I jotted his plans as he spoke:

Monday:  wean at Froze-to-Death Pasture (feed lunch at our house)

Tuesday:  gather East Buffalo (feed lunch at our house)

Wednesday:  preg heifers at South Butte

Thursday:  move Hayes cows to Thompson’s

Friday:  wean Hayes cows at Horse Camp (dentist appointment for Asher in Miles City.  also, homeschool co-op in Hardin.  how do I always manage to double-book my kids?)

And that was as far as we went with our making-of-plans as we visited on Sunday.  Because, as we all know, the plans of mere mortals are, at best, for nought.


(Photo by Asher!)

Because on that same day, Sunday — our day of rest and preparation and planning for the coming week — we ended up with four-tenths of rain.  A black cloud loomed all that evening, and the weatherman was predicting more.

That meant that on Monday morning Beau and I were up at 3:30.  If things went as planned — if the cowboy crew was truly going to wean and preg-check at Froze-to-Death that day — some of the cowboys would have to leave their camps by 4:30 to be at the pasture on time.  The catcher:  the weaning couldn’t go forward if the semi-truck couldn’t navigate the load-out area in front of the Froze-to-Death corrals because of mud.  So Beau drove down to the corrals in the wee hours of the morning to assess the moisture.  His decision:  too muddy to haul the calves out.  He called the crew members, before they even left their warm barns, to cancel the weaning.

So Monday was that kind of day when you kinda get a sluggish start because you can’t do what you really wanted, or at least planned, to do.  Free from the work of preparing lunch for ten or so extra — but enjoying a very clean kitchen since I’d been up since 3:30 — I called an emergency coffee meeting with two of my closest friends, who came over with their kiddos to share warm drinks and to hash out life.  The pork roast, the dinner rolls, and the chocolate pie could wait.

Another thing about plans like those Beau had made for this week is that work must be done in a certain order.  For instance, Tuesday’s work must be accomplished before Wednesday’s work can be done.  And the vet has been scheduled, for about a month now, to preg-check on Wednesday.  Not Tuesday.  Not Thursday.  Not Saturday.

But this is what our Tuesday looks like:


Snow!  The ground isn’t frozen yet, though, so things are still muddy… and plans are still up in the air.

Time to get your scotch cap out!

scotch cap

© Tami Blake

4 thoughts on “Why plans are for nought

  1. Tammi: such a good description of ranch life. I have a hard time explaining to my city friends that I have plans, sort of, but that all could change when the sun comes up!! They wonder how can I ever schedule anything. I schedule only what is necessary and that may get cancelled. I love your stories. Thank you for sharing your life.


  2. LOL! This was a good one. I too can only corner the hubby in a pickup to try to make plans. They sometimes think that food just magically appears! (eyes rolling here) So many of my”plans” have been foiled in 34 years of being married to this farmer/rancher, he has no idea. We women just roll with it. Thanks for the chuckle and keep them coming.


    1. Ha! I hear ya on the magic food! Both Beau and my dad are famous for the ol’ “Oh, we won’t need to eat lunch there — we’ll be home by 1 or so.” And then they get home at 4 and nobody’s eaten. My mom learned to get around this by always sending a hefty snack cooler!


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