Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When Stupid Meets Stupid

Branding Crew. I'm the one in the floppy hat.
Sitting right behind the author of my misfortune.
How many times would you bang your head against a wall before you remembered that the wall was there.
And that banging your head against it . . . hurt?
Sigh . . .
Branding in the early summer is a time of great excitement.
For the humans.
I don't think the calves are all that enthusiastic.
The animals are pushed down a long chute and caught up in a squeeze.
Which then tilts sideways and secures the animal on its side.
Allowing the rancher to brand, tag, and inoculate the creature.
Each animal spends, at most, about two minutes up there.
Because it is attended by several people.
Each with a specific job.
I had just recently graduated from being the 'pusher'.
It's not what you think.
To being the 'inoculate-er'.
Or 'she-who-jabs-with-needles'.
To accomplish my assignment, I was charged with the care and use of the vaccine gun.
Which would pump 5cc. of serum into the neck of the calf, quickly and efficiently.
Simply by pulling the trigger.
It was the best of jobs.
And very soon, I had mastered the technique and was injecting with the best of them.
I was the queen of the world.
Then, that squeeze.
Each of these machines have a long lever on them, which is pushed down to force the sides of said squeeze together, trapping the animal.
When the apparatus is flipped sideways, that lever hangs out . . . a trifle.
And that is where I came to grief.
Numerous times.
Having completed my injection, I would return to my post near the back of the squeeze, check my gun, and recharge, if need be.
Concerned for my responsibility, I usually started checking my gun as I walked.
Not too bright.
Smack!
That stupid lever hit me right at nose height.
And I do mean nose.
“Ow!”
Everyone turned to look.
“What's the matter?” Dad asked.
“I hit this stupid lever!”
“Well, watch where you're walking.”
I scowled and, rubbing my sore nose, continued to my station.
The animal we had been working with was returned to the upright position and released.
My younger brother brought up the next one.
Capture. Squeeze. Tilt.
Inject. Check gun.
Wham!
“Ow!”
“What's the matter now?”
“I hit that lever again.”
“Diane! Look where you're going!”
“Okay.”
Tilt. Release.
New calf.
Capture. Squeeze. Tilt.
Inject, check gun.
“Ow!”
This time, my nose started bleeding.
Rats.
I put up a hand.
Dad turned around. “Did you hit that lever again?”
I had one hand over my nose. “Umm . . . maybe.”
“Diane! Watch where you're going!”
I found a rag, which I quickly stuffed up my nose. “Okay.”
Tilt. Release.
New calf.
Capture. Squeeze. Tilt.
Inject. Check gun.
You know where this is going, don't you?
I hit that stupid pole six times.
Six.
Before I finally figured out that I could just as easily walk OUT and AROUND.
Sigh.
Yeah . . . it wasn't the pole that was stupid . . .

19 comments:

  1. Such a great photo! (Taken before the nose bleed or on a different day, I assume? You may not quite have mastered the safety measures - but I admire your tenacity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same day, Susan. Pre-branding. When I was still nose-whole and smiling.

      Delete
  2. Maybe ranch life isn't all that idyllic, after all?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, your poor nose! On the bright side, you didn't break your specs ... did you? My glasses used to get the brunt of whatever was coming at me. Can't count how many times I broke 'em!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huh. You're right! Usually I would break my glasses as well. Maybe I have a protuberant (good word!) nose! I certainly did afterwards! :)

      Delete
  4. hahahahahahahahahaha!
    sorry, but it is funny from where I'm sitting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh my, my nose hurts just thinking about hitting it six times. Yes, i guess you had to eventually learn the lesson.
    Loved this one and blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Says a lot about me and my learning abilities, right? :)

      Delete
  6. Ow! Sometimes the lesson has to be hammered home lol...sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  7. If the best job gets you a bloody nose, I don't want to know about the worst one.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think you bent the lever. I always had to reach further to grab that thing after that...

    ReplyDelete

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