Home feels like a unique Midwest conversation. All the “Oh, I suppose I should get going” responses and the ensuing four-hour conversations with old retired cowboys make the small town of Colome feel like home. The Feedmill is a traditional meeting spot for our cowboys and their wives, but with a side of coffee. The Feedmill is a small, humble shop consisting of different variations of tables and chairs, and bright green walls that have quotes about pies and family. The shop always smells like homemade dough and freshly brewed coffee. The regulars come in every morning – having maybe three to four of Aunt Lisa’s caramel rolls with their dark roast — always chatting about the weather and reminiscing about their younger years. Rambling on for hours, looking back on the way their fathers milked cows in the morning and comparing memories with each other.
“When I was younger” is a very popular phrase here, considering most of us young cowpokes are “uneducated” according to the elders on everything from how to read the clouds to which brand of socks is best for the type of leather your boots wear. This is considered a tradition around Colome, due to the fact we are not exactly caught up with technology. Nowadays though, this is the most important part of the day for me. Although the local cattlemen drag on for hours reminiscing about their childhood while they finish their coffee, Ialways love to listen. There’s so many things we can learn from them.
Although America’s Heartland has been brutal to my community, we still love it. Considering it can go from 70 degrees and sunny to a -10 wind chill, it has everything from the Great Plains of Nebraska, to the gorgeous Black Hills of South Dakota – the hot days of the summer spent picking up hundreds of straw bales out the fields, and the frigid cold, brutally impacting ranchers, since it can kill newborn livestock in under 30 minutes-. Living 19 miles from the state border can have its perks, like standing on the edge of the two and trying to decide which state you’re in. Or taking that one family picture next to the state sign or next to a historic landmark can last a lifetime, especially since people don’t. Our community’s cowboys won’t be around forever. With them getting older, we probably won’t hear their stories again.
Living in a small town has taught me so much. I’ve learned to enjoy the little things, like riding your bike down the middle of an empty main street on a warm summer day, or sitting in the stands at Colome’s football game. These are things that you might only enjoy in a small town. Next time, you’re enjoying the little things, why don’t you sit down with that rancher or war vet, and buy them a cup of coffee. Everyone here knows that we can’t take things for granted, considering we never know how much time we have left.