I don't think Mom wanted to know how to pull a gooseneck stock trailer behind the ¾-ton pickup.

But when my brother and I needed to get our 4-H animals to town on a day Dad was busy, she learned.

I doubt she had a burning desire to learn how to keep score at baseball games.

But when my softball team needed a scorekeeper, she became one - and a good one at that, able to distinguish an error from a base hit from a fielder's choice.

Dad always has made my brother and me a priority. It's hard for anyone entrusted with the care of crops and cattle to get away, but in all my years of sports and other activities, he rarely missed a game, and we took many memorable family vacations. But we also grew up knowing that some things were out of his control. Calves have to be pulled regardless of what time volleyball practice was, and water has to be set even when you have to get the 4-H steers into town to be weighed.

So, like many farm and ranch women, Mom was - and still is - the one who makes sure the little things get done.

Mom grew up a city girl, albeit one with fond memories of trips to my grandmother's family farm in Palermo, N.D. But when she married my Dad, she adjusted quickly - and well, I might add. She learned to drive tractor. She helped make huge meals for hungry branding crews. She ran for parts. She took over keeping the books.

And she raised two farm kids who would grow up to keep her even busier.

When a time came that Dad couldn't get us and our animals into town to be tagged and weighed per 4-H rules, he taught Mom how to backup the gooseneck. I don't recall her having any incidents - and certainly if there had been any incidents we probably still would be teasing her about them.

Without Mom, we would have missed a lot of 4-H events. In fact, we would have missed a lot of things in general.

I always knew how integral Mom was to getting us from here to there and keeping us in line. But until I had two little girls chasing me around, calling me "mom," or some variation thereof, and expecting me to know everything and do everything, I didn't realize fully what the job entailed.

Parenting is a tough gig in any circumstance. You're trying to keep alive tiny creatures who want nothing more than to put those rocks in their mouths or run into that street. You're trying to teach them right from wrong. Do this. Don't do that. Eat this. Don't eat that.

Add to that the general worries of farm life. There are a plethora of safety issues around every corner, just waiting to be discovered by an adventurous kid or a clumsy toddler. And it won't rain. And the cows are out. And now it won't stop raining. And the tractor won't start.

Until I had to start planning my days and nights around another little human's schedule, I never considered the stress on the parent who isn't in the tractor or out in the calving barn. I thought the hardest part about raising a kid on the farm would be that I wouldn't be able to help as much as I'd like. Turns out, it's not easy to be the only grown-up in the house when the other parent is out baling alfalfa at all hours of the night or doctoring sick calves through suppertime or feeding cows on Christmas morning. It's not easy to manage everyone's schedules, sometimes without a lot of backup.

So thank you to all the moms who see to it that everything gets done, whether that means driving a tractor, holding a baby, feeding the crew, driving carpool or doing whatever new thing pops up that day.

And thanks especially to my Mom, who always has made the job look a whole lot easier than it really is.

Schlecht lives on a farm and ranch in Medina, N.D., with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.