Last spring, our daughter performed a poem at a school gathering. She picked Cow Attack by Baxter Black. Being a ranching family, we’ve always found Baxter Black’s poems to be all-too-funny. While Baxter Black certainly has a knack for telling humorous tales, anyone who’s ever ranched also knows this: there is fodder for his material in agricultural living. If you’ve been around livestock, you’ll know a story about someone who’s roped a calf from the back of a truck or had their ranch dog embarrass them. Better yet, you’ve probably got your own stories. We do.
We started out cattle crazy because we knew what we’d like to accomplish, but didn’t have the upfront capital to accomplish it. We decided we’d do something with what we had rather than wait and do nothing. So we bought the ugliest, oldest, cheapest cattle, put them on rented pasture and concocted a mobile corral. Now our chute was pretty well given to us and our “corral” consisted of fencing material gained from WalMart. (It used to be around their garden center.) We are not proud of this, like I said, we simply decided to start somewhere. Well, the first cow we sent through that contraption entered the chute like a champ. We smiled. She snorted, not in refutation, just more like a cow sneeze/snort. Well, everything but the head catch fell off that chute and this big ol’ girl just stood there, the head catch stuck on her neck, looking at us like, “What do I do now?” This is when buying an old cow came in handy because she wasn’t surly cull material and she let us get that head catch off. It’s funny because it’s true.
Sometimes crazy cow things just happen.
Years ago my hubby and his friend drove by a fancy wedding (unintentionally of course) sporting a bloated bovine carcass on our flatbed with four legs straight in the air. The guests stared and my hubby drove by quick as he could without dropping her unwanted hide on the party.
Once we had a guy drive buy while we were working cattle and offered to help. On a Harley. Seriously? We politely explained the cattle and horses weren’t used to Harleys.
We’ve had handfuls of people offer to help us gather and such. Which is nice until they say things like “Yeah, I’d be a lot of help. My grandpa had a ranch I visited all the time.” We ask a few questions and find out the grandpa had five acres and ten rabbits. Sometimes conversations with people who think they know ranching can be humorous. For us anyway.
Recently though, on my way to a school function, I drove past one of our pastures only to see…nothing. Now, there weren’t many in the pasture, but there were pairs in it yesterday. I dropped the kids off and went back. I walked through the brush, found the mommas, and came up a barrow pit to see the calves on the other side of the fence…on the railroad tracks. Now, I was in my mom suburban, I didn’t have anything with me, but I couldn’t leave them on the tracks. So I circled around them and started moving them back towards their mommas. Now all cattle owners know that a calf can find a loose spot in the fence to get out, but they can never find it to get back in. The calves dropped down into the brush on the wrong side of the fence, but didn’t squeeze back through. So I started walking the tracks to push the group in the brush where I wanted them to go. A few popped through, but there’s always one or two… The last two challenged me, causing me to run the tracks while they frolicked through the brush one way, then the other, then back again, then the other way… Over and over. I finally got them on the right side, but it occurred to me that anyone driving by saw me dancing a jig on the tracks, while the calves themselves weren’t visible to anyone but me.
Yes, dancing on the tracks is my newest cattle crazy. But, we’ve brought calves in the house, gone to town covered in milk replacer (which I realized saying to town folk, “I’m covered in colostrum” might sound a little off, so I just looked dirty without excuses.) The kids have walked 4-H heifers through town, put hats on the animals, and fallen asleep in the barn. We’ve talked baby talk to a calf struggling for life. We’ve hooted and hollered and waved our arms dressed in our Sunday best because the cows always get out on the way to church (or on a date night). You just never know what someone will do who owns cattle.
I guess it is all okay though as long as you don’t go too crazy and buy goats to eat your weeds. I mean, you’ve never done that have you? Yeah, neither have we….