Did you ever have one of those days? OK, I know many of you are expecting me to tell you about a day when everything went wrong, the cows were out and the pickup broke down. Well, I could write one of those, I have had a couple of those days in the last week. Instead I am going to tell you about something far more rare, a day when everything went right.
Friday, dawned cold and crisp. I woke the kids up at the usual time. I expected to hear a lot of groaning and moaning about getting up early on a day off of school. Instead they bounced right out of bed (well, OK saying they bounced right out of bed might be a stretch, but they did get up relatively easily). Breakfast was eaten together with everyone joining in a conversation about what we were doing that day.
Next on the agenda were the chores. They were a piece of cake, even though everything needed watered and hayed that morning. We made quick work of them and did some extra so the weekend would be easier. We drove over West and checked the wayward bull, banished to a pasture all by his lonesome. We found him munching on green brome grass and enjoying his solitude, but more importantly, right where he was supposed to be.
Now we were on to the main event, building a catch pen to bring a bunch of cows and their calves back home for the winter. It was a daunting task that involved gathering up every spare portable panel we could scrounge up. Again, the kids did not whine or complain about being asked to help. Funny how loading and unloading panels seems to be half as much work when both kids are around. An added bonus was that I did not need to get out of the pickup to open gates all day. Now I am starting to remember why I wanted to have children.
We soon had the pen constructed and the only bump in the road was a blown hydraulic hose on the bale bed. Even this was fortunate because it happened when we were unloading panels instead of loading. If it had happened while we were loading we would have had to unload all the panels and load them on another truck. All of this good fortune allowed us to finish the catch pen mid afternoon.
We had planned on taking the cows from this pasture and the cows from another pasture home on Saturday. That was a daunting task and probably was going to lead to a really hectic, if not impossible day. As we finished the pen, Dad mentioned that he was going to get a couple bales of alfalfa and coax the cows toward the pen. He finished his thought by saying, “do you suppose we could haul them home tonight if they all come in.” My response was something along the line of that would never happen and the probability of pigs taking to flight.
We came back with hay and started calling the cows and calves into the pen. Soon we had about 85% of the herd securely in the pen. However, the other 15% were strung out over a couple hundred yards and two or three cows were on the wrong side of the pen. We decided to start quietly hazing the stragglers into the pen, but agreed that if they ran, the mission would be postponed until tomorrow.
Slowly but surely (so slow it was really quite agonizing) we hazed the stragglers toward the catch pen. Amazingly, the cows and calves already in the pen stood patiently. Just as we were about to have them caught, cow 506 decided to be contrary. Just then, as all looked lost, the Calvary, I mean Jennifer appeared. She was just getting off of work and was picking child #2 up for a church retreat. Her timing was perfect and as the five of us hazed the cattle the last fifty yards into the pen, we all knew victory was in our grasp.
Dad, child #1 and I hauled the cows home with little problem and finished right before dark. I must admit that for the most part we were still stunned and in disbelief that we had actually pulled it all off. I must also admit that the next day went just as well and we got the cows in the other pasture hauled home and we dismantled the catch pen. I couldn’t have asked for two more productive days.
I guess I don’t really have a point in all of this, other than it feels really good when a plan comes together. I enjoy what I do, even on the worst of afternoons. Days like this are even more affirming, making me realize that I do love my chosen profession. However, for those of you who are disappointed that this column was not about misguided bovine, flat tires and breeched fences, stay tune. We still have several more days of gather cows and sorting calves, plenty of time for my luck to change.