Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, May 10, 2013

Cow's Fault



At least one of us was a lady . . .

It was hot!
I was tired!
Give me a minute, I'm sure I can think of better excuses . . .
The milk cow had been quartered in the east pasture, waiting for her to 'freshen'. (A cowboy term for 'give birth'.)
I know.
Cowboys are weird.
Moving on . . .
Her moment was getting close and it was time for her move into closer quarters.
I was elected to do it.
On foot.
Sigh.
Dad dropped me off at the gate with specific instructions. "Just chase her along the ditch, past the ranch and into the near-west pasture." I nodded. Instructions received and understood.
He drove off.
Things went well at first.
Right up until we reached the ranch entrance.
Madame Cow (I use this term lightly) couldn't quite get into her head the part of our instructions that said, "PAST the ranch."
I should explain here that the entrance to the ranch was on the north side of the road. The ditch we were following toward the west was also on the north side of the road.
And, when the breach in the fence appeared, Madame Cow insisted on turning . . . north. Towards the buildings. I had to sprint around her (remember I was on foot) and turn her back towards the road.
At which time she took the corner and headed east up the ditch we had just come down.
Another sigh. A little more forceful this time. And accompanied by a "Stupid cow!"
I got around her (feet, again) and turned her back west.
She followed the fence and again turned towards the ranch.
Way wrong!
"Stupid, dumb cow!"
Back towards the road.
Please head west. Please?!
Nope. East.
*#$! Cow!
Just a little swear.
This went on for some time, and my language, I'm ashamed to say . . . worsened.
Or got more colorful. That would be the 'PC' term.
Remember, I was raised around hired men. Experts at the English language. Or at least a colorful part of it.
Not an excuse, just a reason.
Again and again, I got round her and tried to head her in the correct direction.
Again and again, she . . . didn't.
And my language got more and more peppered with, shall we say, 'colorful metaphors'?
None of which explained to said cow exactly what I expected of her.
I have to admit that the poor animal was probably quite confused by this time.
There were the buildings. With hay and comfort.
Why were we going the other way?
Okay, strange human, I'll just go back where I came from.
No?
Except that it would have probably sounded more like this:
Food!
Home!
Food!
Home!
In 'cow' of course.
Finally, after what seemed hours of chasing back and forth, and turning the air blue with . . . ahem . . . profanities (me, not her), the cow skipped past the ranch entrance and, wonder of wonders, walked right over to the proper field.
Okay, I'd rather go here, too . . .
Eureka! (real word)
I opened the gate and she stepped sedately through.
Then turned and looked at me.
Stupid human!
At least one of us had retained her gentility.
I closed the gate and started back towards the ranch, humming happily. All that had gone on before conveniently forgotten.
Dad's truck slid to a stop beside me. "Need a ride?"
I climbed in, still humming.
Dad drove for a moment. Then he said, not looking at me, "I got a real education this morning."
I looked at him, innocently, "Oh?"
"Yes. I discovered that my middle daughter knew words I didn't even think she had even heard of."
"Oh." Very tiny voice, "You heard me?"
"Heard you! They heard you in town!"
"Oh."
That was all that was said.
It was never brought up again.
But I knew that Dad knew.
And he knew that I . . . never mind.
I'd like to say that I never used 'foul' language again, but I'd be lying.
For some reason, working with cows brings out the lowest form of expression.
Probably a good thing I don't work with them any more.
And I should probably point out that swearing isn't an easy habit to get rid of.
Even now, years later, a very strange word will pop into my head.
I'm happy to report that it never makes it past my lips, but I feel some dismay in the fact that it appears at all.
Sigh.
I'm a work in progress.
I should have taken lessons from the cow.

8 comments:

  1. I remember Dad saying that he didn't like to herd cattle on a hot summer day because they were too hard on his Recommend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cows are stupid. There is no other way to put it. They are stupid. And they get into stuff they shouldn't and bloat and then you have to walk them around and around the barn while they burp and fart and leave you retching in their wake. Did I mention cows are stupid?

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  4. I think of cows as the pacifists of the field. The ones on the farm across the road from us all seemed so mellow. And I loved to hear them moo. That seems so long ago ... because it WAS so long ago - almost 50 years ago, in fact.

    Sorry, took a little detour there :)

    I've observed proper little ladies swear a blue streak after dementia set in. It's amazing motivation to try to not even think those swear-thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's it! My dementia just set in very, very early!

      Delete

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