Saturday, June 16, 2007

First Ever Ladies' Sidesaddle Rodeo

Reading through some others' blogs, I've found a couple of posts on the species that provides us with such wonderful things as steak, and hamburger. I decided to add my two cents.

Growing up in a rural area, you learn quickly that nine times out of ten, cows are not the smartest creatures on this planet. This would be why they're food, and not pets. The tenth time almost always comes at the worst possible moment, "almost" because calves that are bottle raised and exposed to more than "fence, more fence, gate, OH! hole in the fence, wooohoo!" can show some real promise for the mischief olympics.

Some short and simple facts about cattle.

Your average bovine weighs MUCH more than you do. If they step on you/kick you/brush you accidentally as they go by, it hurts.

However, most cattle are afraid of people. Of any size. I've seen a herd of placidly grazing charolets go into a raving tizzy because a two year old waddles into their general area and starts giggling and yelling "MOOO cows! MOOOOOO!" I'm not sure what was more entertaining. The startled and panicky reaction of the cattle, or the disappointed look on the two year old's face when they refused to moo on command.

Our cattle are not quite as spooky as some. We tend to treat them to "cake," a protein supplement that is formed into pellets about the size of a shotgun shell, on a semi regular basis, and since we distribute this by dint of laying the bags out on the tail gate and having one person drive while the other scatters the Cow Candy out behind us, they come running pretty much every time you drop the tailgate on the pickup. However, if you're trying to get them back into the corral, because some bright boy at the electric company left the gate open whilst checking out a power outage on lines that happen to cross your pasturage, they turn into rip-snorting spooky old biddies. They also completely forget where the corral gate is, and high tail it for the other side of the country whenever you approach them. Sometimes. Sometimes you walk up open the gate and start hollering "You sorry b#$%&es, get your butts in here!" and they come running, to file into the pen in an orderly fashion, and on out into the fenced pasture that they're SUPPOSED to be in.

The most fun, though, is branding time.

Colorado is a brand state, which means we have to brand our calves before we can ship them across state lines. The sale barn that my grandfather prefers is in Kansas. So, we brand, on a semi-regular basis.

Last year, the time rolled around where grandpa wanted to brand. We consulted the almanac, told him the moon was wrong, and he proceeded to insist, in nearly the same tone as my two year old nephew uses when HE's denied something. So, we get the cattle gathered, dose the cows and the bulls with the super med that protects against seven different kinds of critters that live on or in the ones we want to eat, and start in on the calves.

Due to my delicate sensibilities, (and my uncanny ability to levitate to the top of the nearest fence if a creature weighing about four times what I do decides it wants a piece of me,) my usual job at branding time is pushing calves. That is, moving them from the pen, to the alley, and into the chute. Fairly monotonous, broken up with the potential for getting feet stepped on, crushed against the walls of the crowd chute, or just flat run over, as the 100-400 pound calves figure out that whatever is at the end of that crowd chute is Not A Good Thing.

This particular day, things were going fairly well, until I ran across one heifer calf that was determined she wasn't getting within four feet of the turn into the calf cradle. I tried the sorting stick (a four foot long slightly flexible PVC prod) poking her with the end of it in the backside, usually enough to make them ease on forward. Not an inch. I tried tapping the side of the stick on her flanks... nothing. I tried getting right up behind her and scratching on her roasts... nada. So, I resorted to a trick I don't usually have to use, grabbed hold of her flyswatter and twisted it around up over her back, and pulled forward on it.

First time I've ever had one BACK UP when I did that.

During the ensuing confusion, the heifer in question got turned around and squeezed back past a little bull, so I got him chivvy'd on up into the cradle and went back to work on little miss stubborn. The more insistent I was that she go forward, the more convinced she became that she didn't want to do that. She got turned around on me again, and I saw the light go on upstairs as she finally figured out that she was bigger than little 'ol me, and promptly went to take me out. I did my levitating act, wound up on the gate of the crowd chute, one cheek planted firmly on top, one foot hooked in the rails, and one foot dangling.

Thats when the first ever Ladies' Sidesaddle Rodeo began.

That heifer came dead on for me, even after everything but one boot was up out of her sight line... she hit my foot, slid me back into the gate latch, and by the time I got my right foot out of her way, the gate was barely caught. She backed off and I breathed a sigh of relief, about three seconds too soon. That crazy little steak-on-wheels stepped back, assessed the situation, and ran into that gate as hard as she could. Gate pops open, I pop off.

Right into a perfect sidesaddle position on the heifer.

Now, I'm pretty proud of two things about this whole debacle. Number one, I never dropped my stick. Those things are an invaluable tool for reaching over/around the animals nearest you and tapping the one shoving at the others gently on the nose, discouraging them from the activities which caused you to get a brand new tattoo of the pattern of the fencing in your back. Number two, I stayed on that heifer for four jumps before she unassed me onto another gate. This one with rounded corners, which I remembered to be thankful for as I slid gracefully over one of the aforementioned corners and to the ground.

Once I could hear over the running litany of every cuss word I've ever heard in my life and a couple that I'm pretty sure I made up on the spot, I realized that I'd been laying on the ground for longer than my co-branders were comfortable with. I heard a chorus of "Are you Ok?" from the general vicinity of the calf cradle, and climbed to my feet.

Now, I'm pretty sure I said something along the lines of "I'm fine, back to work" but witness accounts swear I leaped to my feet, brandishing the sorting stick like a rapier, and shouted "Have at thee, foul villain!" before diving into the milling group of calves to separate out the one that had just given me a bruise the size of the county seat on my left thigh.

She got to the calf cradle, by dint of me hanging off the sides of the crowd chute like some kind of cowgirl monkey, and planting both boots on her hindquarters at the end of a good swing.

No one has broken the record for Sidesaddle Bucking Calf Riding yet. I don't think any of them have the guts to try it.

But I think I'll let the record stand, anyway.

Commentary on another Blog (Already?!?)

Ok, well, I've been reading LawDog's blog for a while now (ever since I was turned on to it, and slowly, I'm making my way through the archives,) and I find him absolutely Hilarious. If you haven't found him yet, check him out at The Law Dog Files

So recently he made a post, concerning a young man who flipped him off, and subsequently received a traffic citation for illegal use of a turn signal. It was an amusing story and I personally think that there was a certain savoir faire to it. Apparently not everyone agrees with me on the humorous, and frankly just, nature of LawDog's actions, because he's received many, many comments on it. A few of them seem to think that its an abuse of power, some form of persecution, or that LawDog simply did this to salve his own ego. Since the comments section already has a large number of extended posts, I thought I'd just write up my commentary on it over here, and post a link for anyone who cares to see what I have to say on the matter. So, here goes.....

Yo, dude. Chill out, ok? Perhaps LawDog should have stood upon his moral high ground and firmly turned the other cheek when some young twerp decided that the cop couldn't touch him because his "daddy said." Perhaps. I however am of the mind that this kid needed to have a reality check, as he was leaning towards the kind of attitude that entirely too many people in this country seem to be cultivating.

The "I-can-do-whatever-I-want-because-I-know-the-law-and-its- not-illegal-so-neener-neener" attitude.

Now, if you actually know the law, and the local permutations of state statutes and city codes, and you're right, fine, whatever, I wish you joy of it. However, if you're simply being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious, with half-assed information and a source of "daddy says" well... take your just deserts.

This is totally aside from my personal belief that anyone in this country who is fully prepared to scream "HELP!" at the top of their lungs should trouble come knocking on their little doorstep, rather than doing whatever they can to resolve the situation themselves, (which, yes, sometimes is dialing 911 and screaming for help, but not always) should show a little bit of respect to the people that they expect to cover their lilly white butts should Johnny AxeMurderer show up in their bedroom. Just a personal thought, if you depend upon the police, fire department, EMT's, or any other form of outside assistance from a person or persons employed by the government, local or federal, in any situation, show some respect. These people get paid crap money to put themselves into harms way for you and me. Its a fairly simple concept.

What? You live in a tiny little town and NOTHING like that ever happens? Heh. You're funny. Sure, perhaps it doesn't happen as often as it does in the Human Feedlots (read: cities) but it DOES happen. No one is immune. Period. I live in a town thats Population: Few, and in MY memory we've had fires, brawls that endangered innocent bystanders, and a shooting in a residential area that could have gone MUCH worse than it did. Not to mention petty robberies, drunk and disorderlies, drunken driving, reckless endangerment, etc, etc, etc.

No matter where you are you are not immune to the lower elements of society, random chance, and you are most definitely not immune to Mr. Murphy or his bastard child, Blind Bad Luck. Therefore, unless you're planning on creating your own country, you should show a little bit of respect to those people who make the choice to put on the attire, and take that first step out the door to come and help YOU. If you are planning on creating your own country, give me a call. I want to watch.

Now, for the specifics. Law Dog saw a young man displaying a shocking lack of respect, and he gave him a slap on the wrist in an entirely legal way that will have no lasting repercussions for the young man, and will probably make him think twice about displaying that level of obnoxious arrogance again. He could have done worse. Some police officers DO put on that badge and turn into ravening power hungry mongrels. Some police officers might have followed the kid around and got him on something far worse than a simple equipment citation, and possibly left him with a record for the rest of his life. Not all officers are nice guys. That doesn't mean you shouldn't respect the uniform, if not the man. Law Dog did the kid, and society as a whole, a favor, in the mildest way he could and still be effective.

Or at least thats the way I see it.

New Blog

Well, I find myself spreading my meager blogging habits from LiveJournal over here to Blogger, with a new name and a whole new audience, who will no doubt discover me eventually, and perhaps find some entertainment in my own brand of ranting. I've decided to keep my LiveJournal for a keeping up with friends type thing, so this one will mostly be stories, rants about things that annoy me at the moment, and mentions of others' blogs.

A little about me, I suppose. I live in BFE Colorado, way down in the southeastern corner. Nearly as far as you can get without a stiff wind shoving you over into Kansas or the Oklahoma Panhandle. Its a farming and ranching community, and I help out on the family farm and ranch, thus the title of the blog and my spiffy new name over here. Most of the things I think up come to me while I have my posterior firmly planted in a deteriorating John Deere seat, tracking my way back and forth across a remote field. Unfortunately I rarely remember them in the pattern of the daily shut down, which actually tweaks my tail occasionally. Oh, wait, supposed to be info... Ok, well, I've been hanging around the little spinny green ball for about 22 years, standard childhood, I suppose. A few interesting things have happened to me over the years, and I'll probably share them at some point.

I also work road construction, three or so days a week. You know that little bastard standing around with a stop sign on a stick, interrupting your day, making you late, and generally just annoying the crap out of you because you're impatient and they're standing there looking BORED? Thats me. Trust me, folks, ya'll don't make our day all sunshine and light, either. More on that in another post.

You'll learn more about me as this thing goes along, and bog only knows how often I'll post here, but at least its no longer an empty blog, just sitting here looking all forlorn and lonely.

- farmgirl