No substitute job on Monday, so I got to stay home and hit the ranch work hard. It was one of those days where the sheer number of tasks that we had to do was so overwhelming that we decided just to pick something and be satisfied with getting that done.
We fed the horses and then went to go look at the cows. We have been missing Cow #35 for a couple of weeks so we started looking for her. At the time, I was afraid that she went off in the woods to have a calf and being a first year heifer that she had trouble and we lost her. Our cows normally have easy births, but you never know, so we started skirting the edges of the woods. I dismounted and started walking through the woods, smelling for dead cow. It was here that I made my first stupid mistake of the day. There was a small log lying in my path and I stepped over it. About 8 inches to my left I saw a rattle. I mean I just missed him. You should always step on the log before stepping to the other side. So, I called for Anna and she brought me an ax that was in the gator. ‘Nuff said.
We went home for lunch and started some clearing around the house. There have been some old fence lines that needed to be taken out, so we hit those. I cut some tallow trees under the power line to the house. I was very careful not to make a mistake here, as this could have taken me out. It is usually a simple matter to fell a tree in the direction you want, but trees growing up in brush are seldom straight. Invariably, they are leaning away from the direction you want them to fall. I have more clearing to do here, but if I choose the order I cut the trees correctly, then I can use existing trees to block the ones I’m cutting from the line. Anyway, it looks a lot better right around our house. That kind of work always feels good to do. It is nice to look at a job and know you are done. Of course, we still have to pick all this trash up. Then it will look really nice. It was in doing this, that I made my second mistake of the day. I was chopping at some vines with a hackknife and reached up to pull them down, they pulled free suddenly and I hit myself in the head with the backside of the knife. It hurt, but not too bad. As I was walking around shaking it off, I figured I should check my head and pulled my hand away, covered in blood. I staunched it with my bandanna and we went inside and put on some pain-free (yeah, right) liquid skin and that was the end of it.
We decided that we did need to repair the Old Field Fence by the trap before the day was over. However, when we got over there, cows were in the Old Field. We took the opportunity and drew some of them into the lane and shut the gap. The calves were not all there, but we reckoned that they would work their way in to the trap like last time. We started repairs to the fence, then called it a day.
The next night I saddled up Scout and called a buddy from Sunday School as well as Grandmother and Aunt Josey. Anna and I were very relieved to get the calf mentioned in the last blog tagged. He’s a bull after all, so we didn’t have to brand him. The main problem we had was that two calves got out. One slipped out an old gate that can’t be tied tight enough to hold a calf. The other slipped into the tank lot under a gate. We went in to get him, but he braved the mud hole into the Calf Patch and got out. True, we should have shut the gate, but my help was getting low on time and we decided to call it quits. We worked 4 calves, branding 3, and tagging 2 (2 of them had tags already). We had a good time and got to break in a new hand from my Sunday School class. Jim had done some bullriding in the rodeo, but since that is useless for actual ranchwork, we were relying on his practical experience in working his uncle’s ranch in Mexia. In other words, he is not afraid to throw down the rope and body tackle a calf if necessary. In working ranch world, you don’t points for style, you get points for getting the job done. For instance, a second calf started to go out of the hole by the gate I mentioned. Jim and I each grabbed a back leg and kept pulling until she was back in. We threw her right there. Good moment, but it was spoiled by an angry cow who charged us, so we got up. God was with us. We had our backs turned. I don’t know what made me turn around, but when I did, there she was. We got up quick.
I do miss my old war horse, Rebel. Scout has his uses, but he is way too scared of cows to be much good in the pens. We worked 4 calves and he only helped us drag in one. The rest we either worked in the roping pen or drug in by hand. He would rear up, spin around, but did not want to go in amongst the cows. Once, a little calf hit the fence and rolled over at Scout’s feet. He acted like I had thrown a stick of dynamite under him. He hit the sky and gave a jump or two. Not good for a cow pony, especially our only one.
It was a good evening. We got some ‘combat’ in, exercise, society, and work done. I love branding. Always have. We still have several to do, so I will keep you all posted.