sorry for the delay in posts (no excuses – well there are but I will spare you the details)
back in march (the 27th to be exact) we worked cattle. I didn’t get out there until right after work but I rushed out as soon as I could. it was amazing. I had a new outlook on working cattle from last year. from my perspective I am in constant awe.
all of the cows are rounded up (with the exception of a handful that eluded the round-up process).
when I get out of the car I walk cautiously through the gates towards the yelling and the moos. I approach the barn and wait until I hear the shoot open and a cow comes flying by like lightning pausing when it sees me I can only imagine that it is worried that the humans are playing a joke and that it has to go through more “torture” but that hesitation doesn’t last long as it runs for the green grass and bales of hay waiting as their rewards for new ear tags, fly tags, shots, and medicine. I stand still and wait until I hear the shoot catch again. I know it is safe to cross in front of the barn. I walk up to see everyone in their place doing their assigned tasks and watch for a minute the well oiled machine that has become known as “working cattle.” because of dad’s foot we had some new people stepping in and I quickly took my place to help betsy load ear tags (and it is harder than it looks – we are going to have a few practice meetings before our next cattle working day).
betsy and I tried to have tags and shots loaded (betsy did most of it because it took me forever to get the ear tags loaded). jack was in charge of manning the gates and keeping the direction of the cow in the right way. andy writes down the important information. William and Mitchell give the shots and do the tags. randy and ryan and another Mitchell help move them through the shoot and load them.
each person has their own way of dealing with the cows. I am sure that the cows believe they are being tortured but it really is to help them, but it is hard to reason with a cow. my cousin William, that has always been a quiet one, leads the charge and give orders. Mitchell my other cousin (who just graduated from ETSU by the way) is extremely tall. if you were walking down a dark alley in the middle of the worst neighborhood and saw him in the shadows it would freak you out because he looms over everything – it would freak you out until you heard him talking to those cows. he talks to them and tells them that they are ok. he calls the adult ones mama and the little ones tiny’s.
this year there were two crazy cows that jumped the fence a few times and were very agitated (it is instances like this that has everyone talking about how crazy dads cows are). William kept telling me and betsy that if she came in our area to run. I had my escape plan worked out but betsy looked at me and was like what does he mean get out. where do we go? I showed her the gate I was going over or through and she picked her gate too. in the end they went through and everything was ok.
not everything went as perfectly as it could but at the end of the day we made it. gene had to go to the hospital before I got there. everyone was pulling away and William led us in making sure the cows were watered and fed. andy tossed hay out of the barn, we moved water troughs, counted cows, I opened gates for the tractor.
as the sun was going down you could hear the pleasant moos from the back field of cows that were reunited with their babies and the images of the last cow that was pushed through the process. it was a “tiny” and randy carried it over to where we could tag it. he held it and everyone gathered around it and watched as it got his new earrings and my giant cousin talked to it and when tiny stood up everyone looked at him and several people patted his head and he was on his way. that cute face looking at us like we were aliens.
until the next round-up.