Ranch Rule Number 4: Tell it with Conviction!


There is no arguing with DNA: you get what you get, you are what you are. Genealogy used to be more guess than science, but most families know from whence their ancestors hail. Like most of us in America, my family was immigrants. We came from Europe several generations ago. A mixture of Scandinavian and British ethnicity, we tout Norwegian royalty.

My paternal Grandfather and his siblings were all well-educated, well-read people. Highly communicative, they wrote letters. They played music and entertained themselves and others. The same can be said of my Mother’s side regarding entertainment but, well, they told stories. My great Uncle Kenneth related tales that bordered on bovine scatology. He was the Stafford/McClelland Ferry operator on the Missouri for years and enjoyed regaling each passenger with an anecdote. By the end of the summer, he had honed the telling to precision timing and knew when to pause for a laugh or add the right gesture. He would shuck his shoulders up and down, snicker through his teeth, point out the trailer window over his shoulder to the exact spot the tale occurred, and end with a flourish. He could look anyone in the eye and stretch the parameters of the truth almost – almost – beyond belief. At some point, the listener laughingly went away with that tiny nugget of doubt wondering just how much to believe. Great Uncle Kenny was a master at it. (He could also wiggle his ears independently and would eat the mud pies we offered him as children.)

Many years ago, I read something in one of those “how to influence people” articles about a manner of speaking. In short, if the presentation is strong, people tend to believe the speaker. I was not surprised. My family has been using that strategy for generations! We are an opinionated bunch. We support our points of view sometimes with facts, but more often with the strength of our beliefs. Some of us see ourselves as being right and cannot comprehend how anyone can see the point differently. It seems that somehow, if we speak with enough conviction, we can convince the listener and change their position.

Then there is my Mother. Reference Great Uncle Kenneth. She spent her formative years in the glow of his comedic ability. The penchant for prevarication is strong in her veins. Mom inherited that ability to tell a “windy” as Dad called them. It is, really, an indication of the imagination she possesses and her voracious reading. Over the past couple of decades, she has told some whoppers. The sad part is that as she ages and her reality recedes in time, her stories have become wild fabrications. Whether she has seen something on the Discovery Channel, or perhaps read it in National Geographic, the facts and points of interest from all over the globe are astounding and she figures prominently as the hero or protagonist. Irritating though it may be at times, I will relish her stories – and even write some of them down. Ranch Rule Number 4 has always been for you, Mom, keep on telling it with conviction!

cows-horses-branding '09 053
Mom and Lulu

Published by

Crazy Aunt Tracy

Re-inventing yourself can be tricky. After Dad passed, ranching wasn't any fun without him, so my 87-year-old Mom, three cats, two horses, and the dog came with me to twenty acres in the middle of Charlie Russell country. (C.M. Russell's horse probably pooped in my barn.) Now that Mom has joined Dad in the universe, I am full-on into the next chapter. Stand by for Montana entertainment of note and garden and landscape challenges!

2 thoughts on “Ranch Rule Number 4: Tell it with Conviction!”

  1. Love this Tracey! My mother-in-law (Gsrys mom) was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants. They settled in North Dakota. She also spoke with conviction. Started her own business at a time when it was unheard of and loved playing with the big boys, as she put it, and could hold her own just fine in all those board meetings. Her favorite saying was “Don’t get mad, get even!”. And also “You can’t kill us old Norwegians!”. She was an amazing and fun person like your mom. She would have been thrilled to know Dawn married someone with a Norwegian background!!


  2. Enjoyed your story on stories. The old timers especially thrived on oral communication with neighbors. That, and books were the only entertainment they had. I grew up on the Blackfeet Rez, where the stories were even more “colorful”. Keep it up Tracy!


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