Thursday, February 16, 2006

Well, I guess we could call it physical education.

Here in Texas, when most folks have to round up a stray cow, they jump on their horse, grab their rope, and go get the critter. It's a technique that's worked well for generations. But, at my house, we never go for what works well. Noooo, we like to use the most inefficient means necessary to do a job, which in this case means chasing the cow, on foot, over 10 acres, and finally wrestling it to the ground.

It happened like this.

Yesterday we noticed that our neighbor's new little bull calf (less than a week old) had wandered over on to our property. Now, when you want cattle to move, you have to stand where you don't want them to go, and hope that they will run in the opposite direction. Well, my 15 year old son was helping me, which means we were destined for disaster.

First, he approached the calf from the wrong side. Then, apparently thinking that the calf was an overgrown house cat that was going to crawl into his lap, he stretched his hand out and said, "Hey, little buddy." The calf got a look on his face that said he wasn't interested in being anyone's buddy, and furthermore he had better things to do than stick around in our weedy pasture. So off he ran, toward the 100+ acre ranch of our other neighbor.

Up until this point, our black lab had been watching us with moderate interest. But now she kicked into full retriever mode and started chasing the calf & barking, with the helpful effect of making the calf run even faster, with my son bringing up the rear of this strange parade. As I watched them all run over the hill, I thought, "Wow. That calf is going to be in another time zone by nightfall."

After a prolonged chase that was reminiscent of a Three Stooges movie, the calf finally ended up in a fenced corner of the field. There he stood, exhausted, with his head down and bawling for his mama. I felt sorry for the poor little guy. I knew just how he felt - I do the same thing every night around ten o'clock, when my kids won't go to bed.

We got the calf back over to our place, where I held him steady until our neighbor arrived in her little Kia Sportage. The calf thanked me by peeing on my foot and dripping ropey cow drool on my pants. We loaded him into her vehicle and sent him home. I wish I'd had a camera. It's not every day you see a cow in the back of an SUV.

I heard that the calf got away from his mama again today. When he goes to the butcher, we need to save his hide. He's going to make a great pair of running shoes.

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