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The Texas Side Of Things...

published: June 2nd 2017
by: Jim Banner
As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, I’m reminded of the challenges that my father had teaching me about ranching and so many other things dealing with becoming a responsible adult.   I remember as a boy, when I would mess up and break something, my dad would look at me and say, “I really don’t know how your generation is going to make it.”  Looking back, I’m fairly certain I wasn’t the only young person whose father said that to them, but when you’re young and inexperienced, it sure makes you wonder if you will ever make the right decisions in the future.  Today, I see that I’ve turned into my father and here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  
Two weeks ago, I purchased a Bobcat skid loader to clean up some fence lines that have grown up with brush and to clear out some other mesquite tress and bee brush in the pastures.  My son, Matt, had expressed he would like to earn some money while waiting for his job to begin in the northwest area of the country, so I naturally thought this would be the perfect project for him to tackle.  Besides, what could he break?  For you that aren’t familiar with a skid loader, let me quickly review what it is.  This skid loader is made of heavy duty metal, it has tracks instead of tires which prevents it from getting flats and the cab is enclosed which hopefully, will keep him from getting attacked by killer bees.  In other words, just about fool proof, right?  So, when the sales representative that delivered it to the ranch started to give me instructions how to operate it, I immediately stopped him and explained that Matt would be the operator and to teach him all about it.  I did, however, watch and listen to the sales rep. as he began by showing Matt what maintenance was needed to perform each time prior to using the machine.  The whole time, you could tell Matt couldn’t wait to take this baby out and create some heavy-duty destruction.  Next, he explained what the different knobs and switches did and of course, the levers to raise and lower the bucket and how to go forward and backward.  Finally, he showed us the correct procedure to start it.  But the last thing he pointed out was what to do if you ever got yourself into an unfortunate predicament, or in other words, a major wreck!
I must admit the first week went extremely well.  And as you would expect, the more Matt used the Bobcat, the more experience he got, the more comfortable he became operating it, which led to more production.  I had shown him how push over mesquite trees by hitting them up high instead of low, which allows the operator to push the tree over at the same time it exposes the roots.  Once the roots are exposed, the front bucket can be used lift the tree and roots up and out of the ground.  I also showed him how to use the front bucket to break off the lower hanging limbs that prevented him from reaching the base of the tree and possibly breaking the glass out of the enclosed cab.   I thought Matt was doing a very good job, but I did notice that as he gained more experience and confidence, he wasn’t nearly as cautious operating the Bobcat as he was when he first began.   And although I warned him of the many different things that could happen… I knew someday I would get the call.
Sure enough, this past Monday I got the call.  “Dad, I’m stuck inside the Bobcat.”   “Why are you stuck inside the Bobcat” I asked?  “I’m not sure, but it might be because a limb came through the front door and broke out the glass” was his reply.  Now I don’t know about everyone else, but as a parent my first question was to make sure he was safe and not injured.  Thank goodness, he confirmed that yes, he was alright.  My second question was “How in the heck did you manage to run a mesquite limb through the front glass?”  The answer is still a mystery to him but I’m willing to bet I never actually find out.  I’m guessing it was caused by a good dose of too much self-confidence.
Now, let me give you young people a little hint why you don’t see as many broken or torn up things caused by adults.  In all truthfulness, we adults still make mistakes…we tear up a lot of things like equipment, trailers and even tractors, but there is a major difference between young peoples’ mistakes and adult mistakes.  The secret is money…adults have it and we can pay for the mistakes we make and then fix them without anyone knowing what has happened!   I’m very confident that the next generation will do just fine and that soon, they will be the ones telling their children, “I really don’t know how your generation is going to make it!”

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