I’m a city kid. I don’t always know the cowboy way or the “Code of the West“. I have asked many questions over the years that, in mixed company, may not have gotten a straight answer.
One particular question especially brings some ranch-folk to the edge of their patience: “How many acres do you have?”. City-folk are unaware of the question they are asking of a rancher. To a rancher, what they are really asking is, “how much are you worth?” or “how much money is in your bank account?”.
Minnesota Prairie Roots author, Audrey Helbling, and I have been discussing the code via email. She tells me her experience is much different among midwest farmers. In fact, it seems to be a badge of some kind to announce the size of their spread.
To me–a city kid–that question was really just asking in order to understand the vastness of a ranch. Growing up in a house, on a lot versus many acres without a neighbor for miles is hardly comprehensible, this question just seems to give a frame of reference.
But, alas, it is the code of the west to never ask a man the size of his spread.