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Published June 18, 2012, 08:55 AM

Quiet time

TOWNER, N.D. — There are plenty of modern contraptions on the ranch that make our work easier and, mostly, I’m glad to have them. Especially when they work. When they decide to quit running, it’s frustrating, but sometimes the change is an uninvited gift.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — There are plenty of modern contraptions on the ranch that make our work easier and, mostly, I’m glad to have them. Especially when they work. When they decide to quit running, it’s frustrating, but sometimes the change is an uninvited gift.

Take my chainsaw for example. Sure is nice when it runs — makes short work of cutting down trees along a fenceline or doing some of my really fine “close enough” ranch carpentry. The other times when I’m pulling the rope and cussing the machine’s makers, I’d just as soon hurl it into the stratosphere.

Guess that’s the way of most two-cycle motors and small engines. Makes for good job security in the field of small engine repair and anger management. Sometimes, though, I believe divine intervention silences the motors for a reason.

Recently, I wanted to use the chainsaw to make a couple of notches and cut a couple of brace timbers for some fence corners. I fought that saw to no avail. It didn’t so much as pop or fire even once. I walked away from the chainsaw, counted to 10, cooled down, and went home to get a hand saw, a hammer and a hatchet. I also picked up two little helpers before I returned.

Notching and listening

It was a quiet fencing activity with my two sons as I cut with the hand saw and tapped the back of the hatchet with the hammer to chisel the notches. We all could hear each other as I worked and the boys played.

Without internal combustion interference I could hear my five-year-old ask, “what did you look like when you were my age, Dad?” I told him that some of our friends and relatives have said I looked a lot like him when I was little. He smiled.

Next brace, next notch, and my eight-year-old throws me a toughie. “Who do you think was stronger and more fierce, the tyrannosaurus rex or the spinosaurus?” I shrugged my shoulders and admitted I did not know. He commenced to filling me in on his knowledge of the subject gleaned from books, television and the school discovery fair. It was fun to ponder ancient carnivores with him as I worked in modern, quiet times.

By the time I finished the braces and the visits, I was kind of glad the chainsaw didn’t start. It’s the same reason I’d rather saddle a couple of horses than hop on the four wheeler with our little girl. She’s got a lot to say when you can hear her as we ride together.

I hear the same pleasant chatter when the kids are out in the garden with their mother as they replace the work of the noisy tiller with their hands, or a hoe, or a rake.

These conversations with our children don’t require much from my wife and me — a couple of leading questions, an occasional affirmation, lots of smiling. Mostly we just listen. And we listen because we can hear.

Something to think about with Father’s Day just passed. Turn off the four wheeler, step away from the garden tiller, hurl the chainsaw into the stratosphere … and listen to the little people.

Editor’s Note: Ryan Taylor welcomes comments about his column. He can be reached at 1363 54th St. N.E., Towner, N.D. 58788; email: cowlogic@ndak.net. Taylor, who ranches near Towner, is a columnist for Agweek.

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