Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dirty Work


Oh sure, she looks clean now . . .
Ranching is not 'clean' work.
I had been main herdsman for my Dad for several months.
This combined my favourite activity, riding, with various other responsibilities.
Like checking the herd every day for cows that were calving. Cows that looked like they were about to start calving. Or cows that looked like they were thinking about starting to calve.
Ranching takes a lot of head work . . .
Also helping them when it became necessary.
And hauling feed.
Cleaning pens.
And grubbing around the barnyard doing whatever Dad came up with.
Yep. Not clean work at all.
This day, though, I was determined to stay . . . unsoiled.
My new boyfriend was stopping by and I wanted him to see me as the picture-perfect cowgirl.
Sun in her hair and smelling of the outdoors - grass, sage, and fresh air.
Things started well.
I buckled the riding pad on my horse, thus eliminating the possibility of being covered with hair when he arrived.
Then rode out to the calving pasture.
It was a bright, fresh morning with just a bit of a breeze.
Perfect.
I finished my initial sweep.
The easy, treeless part of the field.
Hmm . . . no cows inconveniently doing messy things.
I started back, this time through the brush and small trees.
Still nothing.
Everyone was grazing happily, or contentedly lying down, chewing their cud.
It was a peaceful scene.
A clean scene.
I rode into the last copse (real word, I looked it up) of trees.
And there she was.
That one cow determined to undermine my perfectly planned morning.
Obviously calving.
And just as obviously having trouble.
Rats.
I rode over.
Yep. Trouble.
The calf's head and feet had emerged, but the little creature was obviously caught at the shoulders.
Poor thing.
Thoughts of my pristine wardrobe disappeared as I considered my next move.
The cow had to be herded to the ranch buildings.
And quickly.
We made it in record time, considering she was in heavy labour.
Finally, she was enclosed in the nearest empty corral.
I slid off my horse and quickly erected a 'pen' of plank walls around her, further hemming her in.
Then I reached for the calf's little white feet.
But this cow didn't want my help.
And certainly wasn't disabled by any discomfort she might be feeling.
I should have realized that a cow who had made the trip from the field to the ranch building at the speed she had, while in labour, was actually SUPERCOW.
As my hands closed firmly over her calf's feet, she made a leap, flattening my hastily-erected fence and pulling me through the rubble.
Now a normal person probably would have let go at that point.
I guess I'm not normal.
Because I didn't.
Let go, that is.
Instead, I desperately hung on to those feet as the cow pulled me around the corral.
Through the dust.
And a couple of icky pools.
And that's when the calf . . . fell out.
Soon, mother and baby were happily together.
And I was headed to the ranch house.
I needn't tell you how I looked.
From head to foot.
My boyfriend's truck and I reached the front gate together.
It's all about timing.

12 comments:

  1. Well at least he knew you were a WORKING cowgirl and not just purely ornamental.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tah-dah!

    The "best laid plans of mice and men"!

    Love you,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  3. Did he run away? Or did he stay? That is the test of a true man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He stayed. For a while. Also a matter of timing . . . :)

      Delete
  4. But if everything went according to plan, where would be the fun in that?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm . . . you know, you're right?! My life just got a lot more fun! :)

      Delete
  5. Most men like a girl who is not afraid to get dirty. I bet you really impressed him, especially with your story. How did that relationship go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, he was a farm boy, so he just laughed and waited for me to shower. Then he remained my friend while I went on to marry his cousin!

      Delete
  6. Reminds me of a time.....nope, don't want to write that here.

    ReplyDelete

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