Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Cow's Names

It was truly “one of those days”. Oh the day started out pretty good, but early that afternoon it deteriorated rather quickly. Jennifer and I love to share our ranch with kids and we had a Girl Scout troop arriving at 6:30 that evening. No problem, I had plenty of time to get ready for them, or so I thought.

As I made my way home, the brakes on my pickup started to squeal. Did I mention that they were newly fixed brakes? I was lucky in the fact the brake malfunction happened in Westmoreland. I limped my way into the school parking lot and caught a ride home with Jennifer. It was still not a bad day, I was sure the dealership would stand the cost of the repair and I was going to get to show the ranch off.

However, as we turned the corner to the homestead, my blood pressure started to rise. The bull pen was empty and there was a large, flattened stretch of fence signaling that they were out. Immediately I renamed both of them and started to blame the ewes (who were also out) for shorting out the fence.

I still had two hours before the Girl Scouts arrived, so I set out to bring home the wayward bovine. They weren’t too hard to find, since they were with the cows. I sorted one off and tried to drive him home. Of course he would have none of that. After two times, I decided to drive the whole herd in. That idea worked really well for about half the trip.

Notice I said half the trip. As we got closer to the pens more and more cows and their calves dropped out. I tried to keep the main herd together but it they soon dispersed faster than I could gather them. Once again the bulls and the cows got new names. It was less than a half an hour before the Girl Scouts arrived and I was really glad they weren’t early. They probably didn’t need to learn the names I had given my cattle.

On the way back to the barn I came across two mamma cows with two new calves. One of the old cows took one look at me and headed for the timber with her calf in tow. She got a new, even more special name. The other cow was one that Isaac had shown and just looked at me for approval. Instead of admiring her new calf I thought “Oh great two new calves and the Girl Scouts will be here in 20 minutes.

I got back to the house and Jennifer and Tatum were saddling the horses. I pointed out that we did not have time to go round up the bulls. Jennifer told me that she was not saddling the horses for me, but for the cute, appreciative Girl Scouts who would be arriving in just a few minutes. Not the grumpy, scowling old man who had falsely blamed the innocent ewes.

Jennifer had to go pick Isaac up from track practice and Tatum and I went to tag Belle’s calf (yes, she was the only cow that had a polite name). The heifer calf was easily tagged while Belle licked my arm. We paused ever so briefly to admire the new little calf. Tatum and I went back to the house to wait on our visitors, ten minutes and the caravan would arrive. In my head I mulled the wisdom of my recent career decision.

Soon the Girl Scouts arrived, buzzing with excitement and eagerly looked at the animals. Killer and Jack got more attention in five minutes than they had gotten in the past six months. The girls fawned over the baby lambs and giggled when Jr., the bucket calf, chewed on their fingers. But they really squealed when we told them they were going to get to ride Ace and Yeller. During the wait to ride the horses I got to talk to the girls about ranching, farming and where their food came from.

I once read some research that said farmers and ranchers are among the most trusted professions. We need to use this trust to reach out to our consumers and tell them what we do and why we do it. People need to understand where their food comes from, especially our youth. Groups who would like to end our way of life are reaching out to school age kids and that means we must make the same effort. That is why Jennifer and I like to have kids out to our farm. I also find sharing agriculture helps me remember why I chose it as a profession. This day was no different.

Soon all of the stress from just a couple of hours earlier started to melt away. My blood pressure started to return to normal and it was apparent that all was not lost. Tomorrow, the sun would come up and everything would be fine. Meanwhile, the girls pelted me with questions; I tried to answer each of their questions. What did we feed the lambs, when were the calves born and how old were our horses. The question that really got me was when one of the Girl Scouts asked me if my cows had names.” Yes”, I said, “but I right now I can’t remember what they are.”


  1. Thank you for the laugh! Growing up on a family dairy operation, my dad frequently renamed members of our herd! I hope tomorrow is a brighter day for you.... and thank you for reaching out to share the story of ag!

  2. You have many abilities and telling good stories to share a message is one of them. Thanks for continuing to take the time to tell agriculture's stories.