Farm Tools or Toys?

May 26, 2013

There are two questions I can be guaranteed to answer ‘yes’ too, quickly and with great enthusiasm!

1.  “Would you like some See’s dark chocolate?”

2.  “Would you like to help move cattle?”

Would I!  The little cow-girl in me was jumping up and down, going yippee and I didn’t even know what we were going to do yet, all I knew was that I was getting another ‘upgrade’ and getting to help…help move cattle…it was bound to be fun!  I thought I might just be a road blocker with the truck, but no… I was really ‘moving’ cattle and let me tell you Our Friend the Farmer has the best tools!  We were working with ‘bikes’, which is farm language for ATV…quads…off-road dirt bikes, which have replaced the horse.  (I couldn’t help thinking that this is a long weekend in spring, when so very many people in Washington go camping, loading up their dirt-bikes, and heading out-of-town to enjoy nature)… and so did I, I just never had to leave the ‘neighborhood’.

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I only killed it once and that was in the first 30 seconds of getting on ‘my’ bike.  Our Friend the Farmer had me practice riding the ‘bike’ around the yard a bit, mostly I believe to keep me busy while he was getting ready.  Luckily for me there were some big puddles to splash through.  Riley the Cattle Dog poses for a picture from his regular seat on the bike. however, this pup is more attached to the bike rider than the bike and would only ride with Our Friend the Farmer.

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My Loving Spouse got mounted up on another of the ‘bikes’ for the cattle moving adventure.  Off we went, down the drive out to the road, across the highway and into the field.  I was following Our Friend the Farmer and quickly learned a very valuable lesson…follow his tracks exactly…no cutting corners, especially when riding in fields with high growing grasses.  The first corner I cut was through a patch of high grass, except it wasn’t exactly grass it was called the edge of a creek and my bike tipped to the left, and I went “ohhhhh….sh…..bad British word…”, but at the last-minute I Evil Knievel-ed it back to the dirt track, and Our Friend the Farmer was no more the wiser (until now), so I didn’t lose my spot on the cattle work force.  My Loving Spouse was behind me, so I could just hear him thinking…”Oh….”

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The fields were green and the sky was a mighty blue with clouds that were so beautiful that it all seemed fake.  I couldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

We went zipping up the hill, over creeks, through gates to meet the herd, who were quite happy to be moving to a new greener pasture. It has been sometime, since I had been with the cattle and the little calves have grown so quickly.  Moving cattle is really a bit more like ‘pushing cattle’ and mostly these cattle all wanted to go, so all in all it wasn’t too hard.  We did need to get behind them and then move/push them all in the right direction.  I got to tear up a hill after a few ‘stray’ stragglers which made me feel like quite the cow-girl.  The last in line was the bull.  Seemed to me, he (the bull) was the laziest, but Our Friend the Farmer says he has the most work.  When I raised a quizzical female eye, he said, “Well, he’s got 70 girlfriends”, and that is a little hard to argue with.

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With all 140+ cattle moved/pushed we gave them some time to settle down.  The settling down period is when the ‘pairs’ (mother and calf) regroup and then you know everyone is accounted for.  I learned that if the pair cannot find each other, they will go back to the last place they nursed.  During the settling down period, we turned our bikes to the hill where wild flowers bloom for just a few weeks.  From the crest of the hill we could see the green valley, the red barns, the dots of cattle and it was breath-taking with the skies, clouds and wild flowers, our little valley was gorgeous.

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Riley the Cattle dog takes a well deserved rest.

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Tiny wild flowers grow in the worst of the soil for a few weeks of the year.

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With the settling in time over, we tore down the hill to close the gates.  At the gate to the field where all the cattle were happily chomping on new green grass, My Loving Spouse went on ahead.  Just as we were closing the gate Our Friend the Farmer and I spied something far away and in the wrong direction.  Was it a calf…?  A human…?  We turned our bikes and tore up the road.  After a bit, we knew it was a human…except there were not supposed to be any humans in here… a rustler?  A cattle rustler? We rode faster with my bike in front so I caught up to the cattle rustler first, but I was not scared, I was working cattle and the rustler actually ended up being an older lady walking her dog with her bird watching binoculars…”Ah, he needs to talk to you”, I stammered, just as Our Friend the Farmer caught up to us and he recognized her as a neighbor and kind of nodded.  It turns out a new road went in at the back of the fields so now all kinds of humans can get in where they don’t belong.

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Back to shut the gates and ford the creeks rivers…

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Now about question #1, well…tomorrow is another day….

  • Miriam

    What gorgeous country! ANd love the look of glee on your face as you plow thru that river! Yeee-Haaa! Go cowgirl!

  • Carole Kunz

    Your friend the farmer must think he has died and gone to heaven and is waiting to wake up from this dream that the “new” neighbors think the hardest farmwork is fun! I’m so happy for you and your family. I always enjoy your beautiful photos too.

    • Ellen

      Thanks Carole,
      I’m pretty sure Our Friend the Farmer thinks I am his comedy relief, but either way we both benefit!

  • Heather Flatley

    Can I send Ed up there, he would be so happy – you guys are having too much fun!!!

    • Ellen

      Anytime Heather. And the iris’ are blooming!

  • Peggy O’Leary

    OMG……….the expression your face says it all!

  • Diane Brown

    You really do have so much fun! and the neighbors think you are working.

    • Ellen

      I know! Diane, I’m praying that Our Friend the Farmer will hire me to do more ‘work’!

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