It’s a practical decision – because she’s fixed supper, done the dishes, helped the kids with their homework, got ’em off to bed, returned the phone calls, is workin’ on the books, and she’s up ... and away!

And he’s been asleep in the Barcalounger since 8:30. Of course, this obligates him to the 2 a.m. heifer check. Which is also a practical decision, ’cause if he’s more than 50, he’s up anyway.

I wrote a poem about a rancher who needs his wife’s help in the middle of the night. Many wives relate to the story. Melody has her version. She said her favorite part in the poem comes after he wakes her up and explains how easy it will be, “It’ll only take a minute, you can leave your nighty on!”

Melody married Dusty with her eyes wide open. They were both from a cattle family and students at Dixie College. They were heading home on a break and had made arrangements to stop by a neighbor’s calving lot while the neighbors were at a Farm Bureau meeting up north.

There was an abandoned cowboy shack where they could spend the night. Though it was not furnished, it had running water.


The young couple arrived in a driving rain. Afoot, they pushed the handful of heifers into the calving lot, sloshing through the mud, splashing through puddles, slashing, slushing, sliding and slipping through the organic sea floor sludge.

Dusty threw them some hay and they trudged to the single-wide. Melody had picked up some fast food. They ate it cold. She rinsed out their soggy clothes (all they had) and hung them over the shower stall to dry.

The mice had taken over the cowboy camp. They laid out their bedroll and crawled to sleep.

Peace descended on the primitive scene. About dark-thirty a.m., Melody stirred awake. Dusty was not next to her. She heard hopping and straining and reached for her flashlight.

There, in all his glory, was her macho husband, wearing his soggy hat and her grotesquely stretched and misshapen undershorts, the lacy edge askew. He stuttered. “I … my … boxers are still wet and, that baldface heifer needs … so I thought …”

“The first thing that came to my mind,” she told me, “was ‘… It’ll only take a minute, you can leave my nighty on!’”  end mark