Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ranch Life, Not a Flip Flop Cow Chase

Last week on Wednesday I left for four days and three nights with art friends in Colorado. I had my trusty Jeep mostly loaded with more art supplies than clothing and for once I truly did use most of what I had taken in the art department.

Now we have had some serious rains with BIG flash flooding, this means water in areas even my husband has never seen it before and he is fourth generation on this place. There were some serious erosion problems caused by flooding in some of the summer fallow fields that had to be fixed and we simply do not have the equipment for this big of a job. So of course the neighbor with the Cat arrives Wednesday morning and Joe has to be gone.

The first field to be repaired was past a wheat field, through one gate, then a holding and watering pen, through another gate and a pasture being saved for later in the grazing rotation. The Cat driver left the gate open as he really wasn't going to be there that long and the cows were way up in the hills. No problem. (you already know I am in trouble)

Joe left me with the words, "Close those gates when he gets done up there and make sure the cows don't get out." Now you know this is going to get ugly.

I am ready to leave. Showered and fresh, my hair looking so nice, makeup on, perfect!!! I am wearing shorts and flip flops, comfy traveling clothes for the 3.5 hours drive to several days of peaceful relaxing and creating with good friends. Ahhhhhh!!!!! life is wonderful..

I hear the semi loaded with the Cat slowly driving thru the gates and on to the last field that needs dirt work, so I mosey out to shut the gates. When I reach the first fence and look out my lovely day is shattered. My eyes see half the cow herd gleefully munching their way into the pasture where they are NOT supposed to be. These are the cows that my dear husband had assured me were way up in the pasture and would surely not be any problem. (one of the rare occasions when he was optimistic about cow habits)
I cross the fence and quickly shut the gate into the wheat so at least I don't have that problem on top of every thing else. Then I glance up and see the rest of the herd streaming out of the hills towards the still open gate into the ungrazed pasture. (it's getting worse by the minute)

Now you have to understand cows. They can be very very contrary creatures. A cow can have the most delicious perfect feed in the world in front of her and if you leave a gate open into a barren desert she will be guaranteed to abandon the feed in front of her, leave her calf and run over you to get to that barren desert. Cows just can't help themselves, they just know that the absolute best cow candy in the world is just through that gate. AND they would never be able to find that gate if you wanted them to go through it.

As I am closing that gate to the wheat I realize this is NOT going to be a flip flop cow chase. These old girls think they are in cow heaven and are going to do everything they can to stay there. They are belly deep in green grass. MMMMMM!!! yummy cow candy. On top of that, this is rattlesnake country and I am not about to go charging around on foot wearing flip flops in tall grass. That is just asking for trouble and I have enough of that already. So I hustle the short distance back to the house, as fast as my trendy pink and orange flip flops will allow. When attired in proper cow chase foot gear and clothing I fire up the ATV. I am going to get serious about this.

For those who are not familiar with cows, when chased or in any way upset they tend to have very loose runny manure. I truly believe they store it up as ammunition to make chasing them more of a challenge. It is absolutely amazing the amount of green runny manure a single cow can expel when you are behind her and you had better not get to close in case she coughs. (enough said about that nasty matter) Now remember, I am going to be zooming about rapidly on an ATV and when I run over fresh runny manure, of which there is sure to be an abundant supply, the rapid rotation of the tires is going to fling that manure up and the fenders will not stop all of it. (trust me, I know about this)

So I ride the ATV to the gate, off ATV, open gate, on ATV, drive through gate, off ATV, close gate, so when I chase them through the other gate and back into the correct pasture they will not just run straight through and into the wheat field. (I know cows, they would do this to me)

As I am doing all the gate things, the cows from the hills are galloping past, kicking up their heels with glee as they charge into fresh yummy new pasture. A pasture where they know they are NOT supposed to be.. I know they know this by the naughty sparkle in their cow eyes and the sassy tossing of their heads. (sometimes it gives me great pleasure to cut into a nice rare steak, especially when remembering events like this one)

Cows are very good at not going where you want them to go. On this day they were being really stubborn in a particularly deliberate and ignorant cowish way. Calling someone a cow is truly an insult. You would understand if you had ever had to chase any under conditions like these. They were a little spread out so I had to ride rapidly back and forth, hazing them towards the gate they had just gone through, but could now no longer see. I would get one side of the bunch headed in the right direction and the other side would make a break for the yummy new grass. So back and forth, back and forth, gradually easing them closer and closer to the gate. By now I am hollering, sweating and saying nasty things, like, "You stubborn old biddies, get going, haw!!!!". My husband is not nearly as nice to them in these kinds of situations and uses language that has to shock their innocent cow ears. Cows also seem to find the gate a lot faster for him, hmmmmmm, there is a lesson here somewhere. Finally one found the gate and bolted through, then the rest quickly followed. It just takes one to get the idea and the herd will quickly follow her lead.

At last the cows are where they belong, the gates are shut and I am leaving. Hurrah!!!!! I am hot, dirty and sweaty, but the cows are in and that is what is important. Ahhhh!!!! Ranch life, I love it. (and there are days when many would consider me certifiably insane too, LOL)

So ends the tale of just another day in the life of a ranch woman.


  1. Shelly, this was so FUNNY. I'm going to send it to Mom. She'll get a kick out of it as she has been in that situation MANY a time before!

  2. Fortunately, haven't been in quite that dire a situation, but know full well what you are saying. You do need to write a book, Lady! Roy and I enjoyed it immensely!