Never Wear White Sneakers in the Cow Lot

     Beginning writers are told, “write what you know.” I agree. While I’ve been accused/complimented about having several irons in the fire or being involved in far too many projects, most—if not all—get my full attention until critical stage or deadline. Thus the story of Saturday’s cattle round-up. Sounds impressive, right?                                              When the drought hit, we had quite a herd of cattle—a whopping 12! {Quite a step down from the 80+ & 17 horses when I lived in Oklahoma} but we couldn’t afford to feed that many so we sold all but 3 cows. The cows had babies, we started dirt track racing, got involved with kids, & traveling, well those darn babies grew up—into bulls. One decided that the neighbor had better groceries & more lady friends to visit, so stayed there. But the other bull calf matured into not the best sire material. Since we share a bull with the neighbor, Blockhead had to go.
     Here’s the part where everything else comes before getting rid of him—the working pen had to be fixed where Blockhead (BH) snapped a 4 X 4 post at ground level, the catch pen had 2 cracked posts, 3 gates needed to be rehung & the trailer had to be rewired-AGAIN. Add  2 of the 3 this year’s calves kept getting over on the neighbor’s. Better there than on I-30! But I despise chasing wayward animals, especially when the weather is freezing/blazing.
     We need to get rid of theses cows NOW. I’m at critical stage. Repairs get done—not in a timely sort of way though, DH spends 2 hours on the trailer getting it ready. Leaving nothing to chance—IE plugging any openings where the mangy beasts feel they can make an escape, we move my old race car, The Phoenix, next to the working chute where BH had taken out that post, 2 round bales are moved in the working pen to funnel the cows into the chute, the tractor is parked along the other gate to block it, the trailer is backed into place—slide gate open so there is a straight shot from the chute! We’re locked & loaded & ready for Saturday.
     We’d already caught the wandering calves  along with one mama, who nursed all 3 calves, to keep them company. All we needed was BH. Friday afternoon DH looked in the catch pen to see only the mama. ARGH. As we are fixing the fence yet again—this time with a cattle panel—I’m ready to get the rifle & learn how to butcher. Seriously! But all turns out all right as both calves are captured & wanting inside the pen is BH. Hey, this is turning out easier than I thought.
     Saturday morning the temperature dropped from the balmy 70s to 32 with the wind blowing slightly less than gale force.  What fun! I’m dressed like a cammo Sta-Puf marshmallow man.  DH discovers that the big horses have pulled out the trailer wiring & they’re playing tug-o-war with it. BEEELLPP! By the time I get the 4 head in the working pen, I’m losing sensation in my toes & fingers. The neighbor & his son-in-law have arrived, mama is cut out into the catch pen, & now my only job is to slide the trailer gate shut. All 1200 pounds of BH jumps in but I can’t get the gate shut! He’s jammed the door. My one job!
     After all the hundreds of cattle & horses I’ve worked & loaded, in front of my neighbor, I fail. I don’t take failure well. Dearest neighbor saves the capture by loosening the gate enough for me to slide it shut. BH is pushed to the front of the trailer, locked in & the slide gate is opened again. With a couple yah yahs, the calves are down the working chute & into the trailer. This time, I grab the trailer in one hand & the other on a post, plant both feet on the slide gate & shove! Yeah! All this has taken less than an hour. We thank our neighbors, then get ready to leave for the stockyards.
     DH informs me that I’ll have to follow him in my car since we have no trailer lights. I’m not thrilled, but the car is warm, I have on clean clothes, changed my shoes & have a cup of coffee. As we are driving to the stockyard, I’m thankful we beat the sleet that is hitting my car. Until I turn on the wipers. It’s not sleet. If you haven’t been around many cows, when they are mad, they poop. When they are nervous, they poop. When they are scared, they poop. And when they can’t poop anymore, they pee.
     Ah, the joys of ranch life.

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7 thoughts on “Never Wear White Sneakers in the Cow Lot

  1. OMG! Thank you SO much for my laugh of the day! This was so much fun to read, but I am sure it was not so much fun to experience! Having lived on my in-laws cattle farm in Alabama when the late DH and I were married I can certainly commiserate! And yes, when cows can’t think of what else to do they POOP!!

    My first year of marriage in the middle of winter a cow went down right under my bedroom window. (Our trailer was parked in a fenced off area in the middle of a pasture.) For those of you who don’t know, when a cow “goes down” more often than not, they don’t get up. This one didn’t. We worked with her for hours in the freezing cold and rain to no avail. She had given up. The bad thing was she had a calf and he was bawling his head off. My father in law was an idiot. He refused to call the vet in to put the cow down and he refused to shoot her. I have no idea why other than the fact he was an idiot. When he went to work the next day (farming was more his hobby) my husband and I loaded the rifle and shot the cow. But what to do with the calf. I went to the feed store and got some sort of calf formula and started feeding him. He would come to the back door and bawl and I would come out and feed him. By some miracle he made it. Boy, did he ever. He grew into a very handsome SantaGertitrudis (sp) bull. His name was Hemorrhoid (because his 2 AM feedings were a pain in the ….) He followed me around like a dog and I loved him dearly. When we got ready to go away to grad school / med school in Mississippi I knew my father in law would haul Hemorrhoid off to the auction to be butchered. He already had a bull. So I negotiated with the gentleman farmer on the next farm. I told him I would GIVE him Hemorrhoid if he would promise to use him for breeding and never take him to slaughter. The farmer took one look at that big handsome bull and sealed the deal with a handshake. He had my big old boy for many years. I visited when I could and when Hemorrhoid passed away I don’t know who cried more, me – the farmer or his wife (she treated that old bull like a big pet dog.)

    Yes, living with livestock is an adventure and it is NOT for sissies!

  2. Thanks, Louisa, for your story about Hemorrhoid! Brought a smile & fond memories of Beauty, my Longhorm.

    As a side note, our only Hereford cow (the others are Longhorn/Hereford mixes as well as sisters) had a bull calf at 3:30 this afternoon. Rabbit is doing well–he hops due to really long legs that are kinda bowed out right now.

  3. Great story! Thanks for the laugh…

    My mom works cows on weekends and her favorite part… castration, she says it’s stress relief!

  4. Meg, I really enjoyed reading about your cow lot experience. You are multi-talented. It sounds like lots of work and a lot of coordination. Maybe you could turn this into a magazine article.

    Claude Mary

  5. Oh, Meg. What an experience! One I’m sure you’re not anxious to repeat any time soon. However, we all enjoyed reading about it. Thanks for sharing. And remind me to never want to walk a mile in your shoes. Cow lot or no.

  6. Kim–your mother is sooo right about that being the fun part. Slice ’em off, throw in a bucket of ice & after the work is over, slice thinly, batter & fry. Yum yum. A cold beer works well here too. Yeah, there’s nothing more impowering that being able to castrate–any animal! Give my DH credit as he didn’t flinch too much when I showed him “my” tool box–really they were in a stainless steel bucket.
    Thanks Claude Mary & Linda for your comments. Glad I could bring a smile. People often wonder why I slip off my shoes when coming inside. If I don’t find the cow or horse poop, we’ve got chickens & guineas to help. Like I mentioned before, we have WONDERFUL neighbors who don’t mind our animals. Lizard the cat brings them presents on a regular basis as well as our foul fowl.

  7. Thanks for the laugh, Meg. LOL about the shoes. Everyone who walks outside our house (except, usually, me) tracks in stinky little things from the puppers. I have a huge aversion to stepping into it, so I’m very good at navigating around it.

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