The cool afternoon wind blew softly as I watched my parents walk fence. I stood in the shade of the barn waiting to unload the calves that were purchased at the livestock auction. Memories of times when my family have had livestock plays through my mind. I have a love/hate relationship with livestock. To clarify, I love to eat livestock and hate to raise them. Once, I saw a sticker which summed up my feelings concerning cattle.
“There is a place for all of God’s critters, right beside the mashed potatoes and gravy.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
My grandfather, on my mother’s side, was all about the cowboy lifestyle. He liked rodeos, mustangs and all the juicy bits that make up the cowboy lifestyle. I am under zero delusions concerning my capacity to “cowboy.” As a matter of fact, I was broken from trying to cowboy after my one attempt to impress a girl.
It was about 25-30 years ago, and I had a serious crush on this pretty rodeo queen. She was a barrel racer, and I was infatuated. She told me if I wanted to impress her, I would ride a bull. This was well before helmets were worn, and vest protected your giblets. Without another thought, I strapped myself down on the biggest, man-hating bull I could find. To summarize, I found myself caught under a 2,000-pound behemoth. I can’t remember the bull’s name, but I remember the beating my ribs and chest took from his hooves.
So, any illusions I have of “cowboying up” are just that, illusions. I do enjoy working with my dad, and he enjoys cattle. Thus, I try to make the best of it. We hang fence, put up gates, feed the animals, muck the pen, and watch them grow.
The cool wind continued to blow, and I watched my dad pull the trailer around to the side gate. I walked over, pushed the gate open and waited for him to back in. With the trailer backed in, I took a 50-pound bag of feed to the trough and poured it out for the calves. The gate on the trailer was opened and we waited for the calves to disembark.
Slowly, the black calf stepped gingerly from the trailer. Usually, my dad tends to buy calves that are red with a white mask, or black calves with a white mask. Today, he showed up with a solid black calf, a blonde calf, and a clay red calf. Not a white mask to be found in the entire bunch. The blonde calf followed the black calf and after a moment of hesitation, the red calf was the last to step out. My mom punched me on the shoulder and giggled. A bright smile lit her face and my dad grinned broadly. We watched as the calves moseyed around the fenced in area. The calves seemed to settle in, and we walked back to the house. As I walked with my folks, a thought crossed my mind.
“You can’t resist the call of your blood.” I guess cattle, cowboys and rodeos are part of my makeup after all.