I have been blessed during my life to do really hard physical labor often. As a youngster I did it every summer at a water plant then at a commercial laundry owned by my dad and later my dad had a couple of places in the country where he raised a few cattle and even goats. The first one he bought was about 60 southwest of Dallas in hilly country. In fact his place was the highest point in that county. Off in the distant was a large mesa which stood starkly on the horizon in the late afternoon sun and it became eventually the home of the nuclear power plant for North Texas. He had about 2500 goats and a couple hundred head of stocker cattle. It was 600 acres so almost a section of land. For you city dwellers a section of land is 640 acres. That by the way was the size of land grants given to the early pioneers out in the mid west to open up the hinterlands of the US after the War Between the States.
Mending the fences is always a constant chore if you raise cattle. It is not that they just fall down from the wind or weather. If you have never seen a cow or bull that will weigh in between 500 to 1200 pounds then you don’t understand. They are not the smartest creatures in the world. Normally the fence will do just fine. But then they are always those times when something gets into their mind. The grass can indeed be greener on the other side or they can get spooked by heaven knows what or if it is a bull he might she a sweet thing on the other side that he just can’t resist. When something that size decides it wants to move, it moves and the barbed wire will not hold them back. They go right through it. Yep, they will get a few cuts and such but your fence is on the ground.
I had to help with fence repair often when we would go visit there. Dad had his business in the city but he loved his small ranch and the cattle and even the two horses we had there. One was mine, it was called Diablo and my brother had one that was a real nag but very gentle. Mine was a monster. A great cutting horse but when he made up his mind to run, he ran and no amount of pulling on the reins or special bits would slow him down until that is what he decided to do. He ran me into a tree once and my dad into the side of a barn, both times going full tilt. I broke a big limb with my back and laid on the ground for a pretty long time before I could move. Hurt like the devil but I was young and tough, or I thought so. He caved in a dozen or so clapboards on the side of the barn with dad. Dad survived that episode with only some cuts and bad bruises.
I don’t know what it is about certain work you do like fence mending or pulling calves. Pulling a calf means exactly that–you help the cow birth the calf by pulling on the calf’s legs. It is never a nice crisp day of 60 degrees and low humidity and light winds. It is either hotter than hell, over 100, or it is cold as the devil. Digging those post holes in the heat is a back breaker and an energy drainer. Pulling the calf isn’t as hard physically but you have to watch out for those hooves or the cow pushing you up against the barn wall.
One time I helped my dad pull a calf in his barn. It was a really good barn with several rooms and special stalls on the ground floor and a huge hay loft up above for the hay when it was harvested and stored. He had a special stall that was used for holding cattle. It opened up from inside and also to the outside where there was a very small holding corral. The expectant cow was there and she was ready and mooing and generally acting restless. The floor of the holding pen was of course filled with mud and left over hay. Ankle deep muck in other words. It was a hot day and we both got sweaty before the hard work even began. This cow never laid down, she stood there as she was having her labor but he calf was not coming out easily and we knew we would have to help. We went to work. Her body fluids mixed with our sweat and the muck which inevitably got all over both of us and we struggled with her, the rope on the calves hooves made for a slippery mess. After a great deal of tugging and pulling we finally got the calf out and it was ok and mom seemed to be doing fine too. As we stood over the new calf I noticed my wedding ring was gone. It had slipped off during the work. I never even noticed it because of the mess and sweat. But now I did and I knew I needed to find it. Dad and I both started looking. Of course there were our footprints and the cow and calf hoof prints everyone and all were several inches deep in the mud and muck. I really did look hard for a while but realized it was searching for the needle in the haystack and gave up. We went back to the house and I told the little lady. She immediately said we had to go look for it. It was only a $20.00 ring but she had gotten it for me. I told her it was hopeless. There was no way in all that yuck we could find it. She took off and I followed along half-heartedly believing it a fool’s errand.
Well, of course she went down there and got right into the muck and yuck without hesitation. I was stunned when after only a few minutes she found it! I don’t know whether it was pure luck, inspiration or some kind of female determination to find that symbol of her marriage. It was truly amazing. I haven’t lost it since. We both needed a good cleaning afterward. You gals can do wonders when you are motivated that is for sure.
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all”–Proverbs www.olcranky.wordpress.com