Friday, August 26, 2011

My Future as a Bull Fighter is in Jeopardy

A few weeks ago I went out to see my folks.  It was hot.  It was dry.  But that did not keep us from riding horses!  No sirree bob!  My mom offered to drive us in the pickup to find the horses.  They have a full section of land to wander (that's one square mile) in this drought, along with a herd of cattle.  Now, I could have accepted this generous offer but it just didn't seem like the thing I would have done as a girl on the farm.  I decided to show my children the proper way to catch your bronc if you live on the farm and you are around the age of nine or ten.

You take two feed buckets.  One bucket has a nibble or two of sweet feed in it.  The other has a bridle to catch the bronc with.  Two buckets is necessary only if you are going after two horses.  Otherwise I'd just toss the bridle in with the feed.  I was also known to tuck a lead rope in my back pocket and head to the pasture with a handful of cake to catch a horse.  However, I was unsure if these horses had a halter on, and I intended to ride the horses back, so a bridle for each was more in order.  In addition, we planned to ride them as soon as we caught them, so naturally we at least needed a bridle!

Please also understand that I really had no idea where they were.  The most logical place was by the pond.  Or the trees.  Or perhaps anywhere at all in the pasture...The only thing I was certain of was that they were not in the 40 acres behind the house.  We decided to cut at a diagonal across the pasture to the pond...As we entered the field on the east side, I spotted the horses further to the east of us.

"Heeeey horsES!"  I gave the cry my dad has always used to call the horses in to eat...I confess, I did not hold out much hope that they would respond to my cry as I am not the source of their breakfast on a regular basis.

Imagine my surprise when they not only came, but came at a trot to greet us!  They were so ready for diversion that they all but stuck their heads in the bridles for us!  You will notice the very authentic cowgirl gear my girls have on.  Because clearly every cowgirl wears brand new Pumas or purple sparkled Sketchers through a pasture and to ride horses!  Right?

In truth, the little hooligans had left their boots and old shoes at our house and brought nothing but brand new shoes to their grandparents...*SIGH*  And they even failed to pack a single pair of JEANS!  Good grief, who ARE these children?

As you can see the cattle were quite interested in the treat the horses were receiving...

And also you can see that I did NOT get to ride a horse back to the house.  I was informed that the girls were riding by themselves.  I shrugged to myself and decided I could use the exercise to walk back home.  After all, carrying two buckets through the hot dry pasture wasn't enough exercise.

So, the girls left me and my buckets and headed off, no saddles, no blankets, nothing to pad Bookworm's delicate derriere from old Appy's bony back.  Remember, Appy is 29 years old.  I have all sorts of sad thoughts about how hard this hot summer has been on him.  But we will not get into that right now.

What you are interested in (hopefully, and I apologize for taking twenty minutes to get here) is why I fear my future as a bull fighter...

So, I put my kids on the horses, and sent them off.  I watched them ride off with a little catch in my chest at a memory of happier, simpler times, picked up my now empty buckets and headed off to the road...

I had walked about 25 feet when I realized I had company.  Two black angus cows were walking at my hip.  And head butting each other.  And trying to stick their heads in my bucket without actually touching me.

Now, I realize I've been away from the country for a while, but I was completely inappropriately dressed.  As in, bermuda shorts (I realize nobody calls them bermuda shorts any more, but I'm not sure what one does call them), tank top and thin tennis shoes inappropriately dressed.  I tried to ignore my bovine companions and continue on to the gate.  And they kept head butting and shoving each other.

I kept visualizing them shoving each other into me, and consequently stepping on my inadequately shod foot...In addition to the fact that my brother was barely moving as a result of a run in with a cow two weeks earlier...Oh, I'm sorry but simply have to give a back story here:

Due to the severe drought my dad and brother have had to sell off a good chunk of their herds to avert a bigger financial disaster than they are already facing.  David had decided to sort some cattle (by himself, I think) while my parents were on vacation.  Apparently one mama cow did not appreciate being sorted from her calf.  She took off after David...

Okay, I just have to back track even further right here and say that many times as I was helping sort cattle my Granddad Marvin would say "Quit jumping out of the way!  The cows don't want to run over you.  Stand your ground.  They will back off."  In fact I remember very clearly him saying that very thing to me just before I found myself plastered against the fence with the wind knocked out of me.  I can also remember marveling at my dad's ability to put one hand on the top rail of our six foot corals and vault over them when a particularly angry cow was quite upset with him...

I never did master that fete.

So, back to David.  The cow chased David.  David tried the one handed fence vault trick, and suddenly found himself flying through the air.  From what I understand the cow caught him and threw him, and he landed on his tail bone...I don't know if he cracked it or what (he doesn't tend to believe in doctorin') but I do know two weeks later he could barely move.

Now.  Back to the hungry cows.  I was thinking of my toes.  And the fact that I like having all of my nails on them.  And I was thinking of David who could barely move without groaning...

I decided to just set the buckets down and let the cows satisfy their curiosity.

They kicked and snuffled and licked the buckets...And they licked and snuffled them some more.  Eventually they lost interest in their game, and moved on.

I chuckled to myself and picked up my buckets and began to whistle the Andy Griffith tune as I headed to the gate.  As I walked I heard a cow bawling behind me, and it sounded as if she was quite close.  I looked behind me, and I saw this not so little lady not walking up to me, but flat out running, neck stretched out and bawling like I was in the feed wagon, complete with caker and hay fork on the back.

I looked around and though there didn't seem to be any other cattle paying attention, I decided to abandon my buckets.  After all, there was a perfectly good pickup at the house that I could drive back to fetch my abandoned buckets.

So.  I walked the mile back the house.  Bucketless.  As I got to the house and told my tale, I only had one thing to say to my parents.  "Please don't tell David I couldn't get home with the buckets.  He will never let me live it down."

Nope.  Sibling rivalry never dies.

P.S.  I feel compelled to explain cattle terminology.  I realize 98% of my readers know this, but just in case:  The term cattle refers to a mixed herd of cows, calves, heifers, steers, bulls, whatever.  It's kind of like saying "people."  Heifers are females who haven't calved.  Cows have had calves.  Calves are calves, bulls are bulls and steers are....well....They just don't rattle when you shake them.



Freckled Hen said...

I loved just about everything about this story, even the shoes and lack of jeans. I just wish it would cool off for y'all!

Dawn said...

Man those pictures really show how awfully dry it is. Perhaps those were former show cattle and had pleasant memories of feed in buckets and inappropriately dressed teenage girls. Not that you were inappropriate. Or teenage. Bwaha!!

Crazy Sister said...

I didn't know you guys were in drought, that's rough.

Love your description of steers!

Givinya De Elba said...

Hi Andi, Nice post, and lovely pics! Sorry I'm such a crappy commenter. Keep up your lovely blog!

Givinya De Elba said...

Just thinking about your pics - droughts are terrible, but somehow, the photos you get are beautiful, hey? Hauntingly beautiful. They tell a real story, which is what art is about, I guess.

Andi said...

Wow! Point and shoot cameras portraying art? Thanks! It is heart breaking to look at these pictures and contemplate the rough road my family has coming up...Especially considering there was no hay to put up for winter. The cattle markets are flooded, so there is no money in selling cattle, but it costs too much to feed them. Pray for relief for our ranchers and farmers. Many young ranchers are facing a financial devastation that will be difficult to recover from.