Pros and Cons of Take Your Son to Work Day

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

I’m a full time mom, part time writer, and very occasional day worker. My oldest two kids go to school every day while my three-year-old son Levi tags along with me wherever I go. Last week, me and Levi helped a local rancher process cattle for the fall works. The processing chute and corrals are conveniently located directly across the driveway from our house, so that made our commute time a breeze. Getting to work still took the better part of an hour, though, because my kid could not be rushed. He wanted to pick out socks, then play with a stuffed horse, then shoot a Nerf gun, and oh look – a muffin!

When your ranching partner is a preschooler with the attention span of a gnat, you just gotta choose to be patient and try not to freak the freak out. Here are some pros and cons of working cattle with a three-year-old.

Con: I spent twenty minutes convincing him to put on pants. 

I buttoned his shirt, pulled on his socks, picked out his tiny Wranglers, tried to apply the pants to the child. He yelled “No!” Then he yelled “I want to wear pants!” so I tried to put them on him again. He yelled “No!” again and stood squarely on both legs, so I gently squeezed one calf the way you press on a cannon bone to get a horse to pick his leg up. It didn’t work. I tried clucking while I squeezed the leg. Levi kicked free and ran down the hall chasing his imaginary baby turtles. Apparently, they were on the loose and getting away. His imaginary turtles are surprisingly fast. I think they must do shots of Red Bull when we’re not looking. I sighed and realized I could’ve cleaned all four of my horse’s feet by now.

I eventually succeeded in wrestling the child into his pants. Then I filled my coffee cup with hot brew and pumpkin pie creamer, and tranquility was once again restored to my inner self.

Pro: He is delighted to simply hold a non-working cattle prod. 

As we age, our expectations become higher. We want hydraulic chutes in the corral, air conditioned seats in the pickup, nonstick pans in the kitchen, and phones that intuit who we want to call before we pick up the handset. It’s refreshing to see a little kid pick up a cattle prod and realize he is holding electricity in a stick. His eyes widened and he smiled like Thomas Edison illuminating the first lightbulb. Levi wasn’t the least bit bothered that the hot shot didn’t have batteries. It was in his hand, and that’s all that mattered.

Con: I had to temporarily cease my professional duties and wipe someone else’s hiney.

This is a common work-from-home mom complaint. You’re right in the swing of things, getting in the groove of keeping cattle pushed up close to the chute, squeezing on the pour-on Ivermectin and thinking about taking a swig to ward off the Delta variant, and then you have to set down the rattle paddle and carry a tiny human to the butt-wipin’ spot. And that tiny human protests by kicking and screaming, which is a fine thank you when you’re the one doing the dirty work that is now physically difficult as well as mentally offensive.

Pro: Snacks were plentiful and readily available.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of taking your small children to help with ranch work, besides instilling within them a work ethic and passing on a love for caretaking the land and its animals, is always being close to the snack bag. Goldfish crackers, peanut butter bars, and juice bags sure perk up a person when doing manual labor outside in the elements. Oh, and it’s neat to pass along the ranching heritage to the next generation, too.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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