Pipi’s Pasture: Twenty minutes of memories
The morning was damp, even cool enough for a jacket. It had rained the night before, and as I drove to the ranch I passed through places where the highway was wet; others were dry. At the ranch on Morapos, heavy, dark, ominous-looking clouds hung overhead, a scene more like fall than late July.
I was at the ranch to help my brother Duane (Osborn) move haying equipment from leased hay ground up country back home. So I parked the car across from the corral to wait about 20 minutes for Duane to come down with a baler, and as I waited there, memories of earlier years, when my siblings and I were growing up, came flooding back.
I heard the water gurgling in the ditch as it passed down in the ditch across the corral and into a culvert under the road. I remembered the many hours that we kids played in the ditch, sending twigs and sticks down the ditch, poking them along past the rocks. Sometimes when the water was much shallower, later in the summer, we waded in the ditch or crossed from one side to the other. We heeded Mom’s warning, “Don’t get your shoes wet.”
My eyes wandered from the corral to the patches of oaks and other bushes beyond the corral. That’s where cows enjoy time in the shade when the days are hot. I remembered a time when there was a calf shed in that area. Dad turned newborn calves and their mothers out there where they could run around and yet have a place to get in out of the cold.
When I saw Duane cross the cattle guard on the county road, I got out of the car and went to open the gate into the bull pasture where Duane wanted to park the baler. The old gate to the pasture has been replaced (probably several times), but I can still remember the gate that hung there when we were kids. That’s when a bull named Mitch learned how to put his head under the gate and push it off the hinges. Mitch could let himself out if he wanted—or in. One fall, when the cattle were being gathered from forest pasture, Mitch came down during the night. He used his gate opening knowledge to let himself into the bull pasture. There he was the next morning—at home.
I don’t remember how the “bull pasture” got its name—probably because we kept bulls there at one time. When I was a kid the milk cow stayed there in the summer and maybe a horse or two as well. Because it was pastured the grass didn’t get very tall. Now, however, there’s tall hay growing in it, enough to cut and bale. Duane and I sometimes wonder what Dad would think if he could see the hay. He’d probably say, “It boggles the mind.” It was one of his favorite sayings.
‘All of these memories in twenty minutes.
Some years we finish up the calving season with one or two bottle calves here at Pipi’s Pasture; some years we don’t have any. The “not any” years are lucky years because feeding a bottle calf is an expensive business, and it means an extra chore, too.