From Pipi’s Pasture: The surprise move
Life is full of surprises. Take Monday, for example. Last week I wrote about moving the cattle from the pasture we put them in at the start of summer to another pasture across the road and how interesting the move can be. The move was supposed to take place today or tomorrow, when family could come to help.
On Sunday evening my brother, Duane Osborn, reported that two of our cows had escaped and were out along the county road. The cattle still had grass and water but no doubt were sticking their heads through the fence trying to get easier grass that’s grown tall along the road.
So on Monday morning Lyle and I drove to the pasture to put the cows back. Sure enough, we found them along the road — two cows and a calf — standing in the trees next to a pond that is fenced off on the other side, and the rest of the cattle were there, too — inside the pasture. Some of them were looking over the fence, trying to figure out how the others had gotten out.
So I got out of the truck, stumbled down into the ditch along the road, and climbed up the bank. I headed the cows down country to put them through the main gate, a little distance away. Lyle, who was nursing a sore foot, followed along in the truck.
I had to follow the cows and calf through thick brush, which wasn’t easy. My legs are short so it was hard to get through the downed branches and tall grass, and my hair kept getting caught in the trees.
The rest of the cattle followed along on the other side of the fence, slowly at first, trying to figure out what was going on. Finally, the brush got so thick that I couldn’t get through it any longer so I walked back down to the county road. I looked for the cattle but lost sight of them — both those in the pasture and those that were out.
I got back in the truck and we drove down to the gate. There they were. The cattle, including the escapees that were back inside the pasture, were standing near the gate.
Lyle asked, “Do you want to turn them out?”
I thought about it a minute. I got out of the truck. Heavy Duty, one of the bulls, was standing right next to the gate. I had to look over and around him, but I counted the cattle. They were all there.
It was apparent. The cows, calves, and bulls didn’t bawl. They just stood there patiently, but they were ready to go. So we opened the gate.
The herd sauntered out of the pasture and did a taste test of the tall grass along the road. None of them got excited. The calves gradually came out, some with their mothers. Unbelievably, all of the calves found the gate. The bulls behaved themselves.
Then, with a little urging from us, the cattle headed in the direction of a lower gate for the new pasture, not far down the road. None of them hurried. We followed them in the truck.
We put all of the cows, calves, and bulls in the new pasture and closed the gate. Then Lyle and I looked at one another and exchanged “How did we do that?” conversation. We hadn’t intended to move the animals that day, but everything was just “right.” It was a surprise. It was empowering. It was a relief. The cattle were moved.
We headed home. It was only 11 p.m.
It was also a little sad. I remembered all the cattle moves that we have done as a family. We always have a picnic lunch after working the cattle (one time, in a hurry, we took a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam, bread, and a knife). The grandkids always took towels with them and after lunch took off their shoes and waded in the creek, collecting minnows and water bugs.
One year, Jaycee, the youngest — then about 3 — fell in the creek, which was only deep enough for wading. I can still see Grandpa Lyle hanging Jaycee’s wet pants in a tree so they could dry…
Life is full of memories and surprises. That’s what makes it so wonderful.
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