Today I was in line at the Driver’s License office and it was a bad day. OK, Ike was in line at the Driver’s License office and I was there as the responsible adult, but that really was when the day went bad. No, it had nothing to do with the wonderful people at the Driver’s License office or the prompt service (really they were quite nice and the line moved fairly quickly), I got” the call”.
What call was that you ask? It was the call from the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Department saying that we had cows out on Highway 99. The dispatcher said she had tried Dad but he was not answering his phone. Most likely that was because; 1) he was shearing trees and could not hear it ring, 2) he was in a place with no signal and, most likely, 3) cell phones do not work when you really need them too. I thanked her for calling me and hung up the phone, pondering my dilemma.
There I sat, in the Driver’s License office, cows on the highway and no way to get home. Oh yeah, I left out another detail. Jennifer was in Frankfort, a wonderful small town, but the black hole of cell phone reception. Back to the story, the cows were out, I was stuck in Manhattan, Dad was out of communication and the cavalry was unavailable. Things were not looking good. Then I did what most of us in rural America do in similar situations, I called a neighbor.
Ron answered the phone and agreed to set out to find Dad. In the meantime, I did the only other thing I could do; I alternated between frantically trying to call Jennifer or Dad and worrying. I consoled myself by assuming it was the old cows and calves on the East side of the road that were probably out and not the replacement heifers on the West side of the road. The cows and calves would not be that hard to get back in, I told myself.
Finally, I got through to Dad and he started to make the long journey out of the wilderness back the road and to the law enforcement professional currently watching the aforementioned bovines. Then right after I made contact with Dad, Jennifer answered her phone. The connection was not good, but I have perfected the art of communication through a bad signal. OK, so Jennifer could sense the desperation in my voice even with only getting every other garbled word.
Things were getting better, or so I thought, I had Dad on the way, he had help, and Jennifer was on her way. About that time, Ike came back in from his driving test, grinning, with a newly minted farmer’s permit. In retrospect, that might end up being my bad day, but for right now, it was a good thing. Ike and I left in a cloud of dust (I was driving) to help save the day.
We, strategically, snuck around the East side of the highway to help corral the cows and calves. We found nothing but the cows standing contentedly in their pasture minding their own business. There went the day again. We crossed the highway to see the neighbor’s truck abandoned in the road and Dad’s truck creeping along the road, 200 yards to the West.
We caught up to Dad only to find out that; 1) it was in fact the replacement heifers that were out, 2) only about half of them had been found, and 3)he had no idea where the other half went to. That was why he, our neighbor, Jennifer and Tatum were looking for tracks, heifers or any sign of where they might be. Things were looking bad for the home team, because instead of fifty degrees and dry, the weather had turned to thirty and snowing. I guess that was the rock bottom right before things got better.
First we found most of the remaining heifers, leaving us only three short. Jennifer, Tatum, our neighbor Bryan and I pushed the newly found heifers back to the pen. Meanwhile, Dad and Ike continued to search for the last of the three wayward ruminants. When we had safely penned the second group with the first group, we saw Dad and Ike pushing the remaining three calves our way.
With the heifers safely back in the pen, the gate securely latched and our nerves beginning to quiet down it was time to reflect on the bad day. That was when I realized that my bad day was really a good day. The heifers were found, rounded up without incident. Most of all I was reminded that I was lucky to live in a county where the sheriff‘s office knows who to contact and when we are contacted there are neighbors who are willing to help. I guess, in the end, that makes for a pretty good day.