Celebrating Our Little Cowboy’s 16th Birthday

Sixteen years ago this past Friday, life as my husband and I knew it was forever changed when we became initiated into parenthood with our firstborn; a son. We had no idea what we were getting into but we’ve been fortunate enough to figure it out fairly unscathed.


Throughout my first pregnancy, the big joke with extended family was whether our baby would come out with a big handlebar mustache. My husband was known for his signature mustache. Back in the mid nineties, having ultrasounds and finding out a baby’s gender was just becoming popular but my husband and I didn’t want to find out what we were having. I liked surprises and the tradition of not knowing whether it was a boy or girl until the baby arrived.


When I was four days past my due date and getting bigger by the day, my doctor said I should probably be induced and scheduled me to be at the hospital the next morning to have our baby. As fate would have it, my water broke in the middle of the night and I was extremely relieved not to have to be induced. I preferred labor and delivery to happen on its own and wanted to experience childbirth with minimal intervention from drugs used to aid in labor and delivery. On February 24, 1996 right at lunchtime, our 8 pound, 11 ounce boy arrived (but he didn’t have a mustache).

 He’s grown up wearing Wranglers, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and scotch caps most of his youth.

Like a typical little boy, he’s always been enamored with guns: toy guns, sticks or jaw bones that looked like guns, cowboy movie rifles and pistols, and of course the real guns we kept locked in the cabinet. In the summertime he would sleep outside with his cowboy “bedroll,” saddle, toy gun, and dog, and slept outside under the stars.

Growing up, he didn’t have favorite Disney movies or cartoons; he had favorite cowboy movies that featured guns.

Once he got a sister to play with, he was usually able to get her to dress in cowboy gear, gun belts and holster was always willing to loan her one of his guns to play cowboys with him. 

Bringing their guns along while feeding cows

He wore out hundreds of toy rifles and especially toy pistols. When he turned 12 he took the hunter’s safety course and soon became a crack shot and shot both of his bull elk and Black Hills deer with one clean shot. Not surprisingly, for his 16th birthday, all he wanted was a gun. A Ruger 223 with specific features.

One of the things I love best about our son is his memory. Since our boy was a tot, he has always been inquisitive and loves learning. He picks stuff up like a sponge and manages to retain it and is a factoid fanatic. I can ask him any science, math, or history question and he knows it. When he was in 6th grade, his math teacher asked the class how many liters are in a jug of milk (3.78 liters) and our boy was the only one who knew the answer because he’d just seen it on the milk jug the week before and remembered. Anytime I forget someone’s phone number or street address, I am usually saved because our son always knows.


He’s always loved dirt and water in any form. Most of our son’s diaper years he was either thoroughly immersed in dirt or water.

A day in the hayfield with Dad and Grandpa

He loved a good garden hose or soft dirt pile he could kick and stir up.

Taking a break on the 4th of July wearing his famous dirt kicking boots

He also enjoyed anything with a steering wheel.

Showing his Grandma how to “drive” a tractor

Before he was three he drove a lot of miles parked in our driveway in the mornings while his dad drank coffee.

 He’s been around cows all his life and  grew up going out to check cows or feed them with his dad and grandpa.

Bottlefeeding Annabelle; his and his sister’s first bottle calf

Over the past 16 years I have tried hard to savor every day of being a parent and enjoy each new phase my kids go through. Some days (and nights) were dreadfully long as a mom but when it comes to raising kids, it’s so true that the days are long but the years are short.

About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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2 Responses to Celebrating Our Little Cowboy’s 16th Birthday

  1. Beth Rankin says:

    I love that dirty face photo. He probably is not happy with you posting it tho. I haev a 17-year-old. LOL
    I thought you might appreciate our new blog and the entry today. Yesterday I visited a cattle farmer and was struck by his wife’s acceptance that this is the way her life path has gone.

    • ranchwifeslant says:

      Thanks Beth! Since my son is a teenager, he is not really interested in what I do so I doubt he even knows about the picture, but I did tell him I was going to do a post about his birthday. I guess I would be surprised as you about the woman’s response. Thanks for sharing and commenting! I appreciate every reader!

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