I’ve Been Run Over a Time or Two

As the title clearly states, I’ve been run over a time or two. City folk and the like reading this might think this is an odd statement. Granted, they’re not wrong. But they’re not wrong for the wrong reasons. You see, I’m not talking about getting run over by a Prius. Nay I’m referring to, and most other good quality farm people can back me up on this, being run’d over by livestock.

There’s a saying around most farms that goes a little something like, “I’m sorry for what I said when we was working cows.” Whether you are rotating grazing pastures or just trying to pen that crazy heifer that keeps jumping into the neighbor’s field, most people do not enjoy working cattle. I’ve had the “privilege” of having been able to pen wild mama cows from North Kosciusko to Floresville to College Station and all the way up in Sunray, Texas. I can tell you, an enjoyable morning or afternoon in any of these places was hard to find. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the farm life or hard work, but I often find myself playing the part of roadkill. Mostly because I move with an athleticism that rivals ducks on land.

Additionally, and this is an important piece, facility design is something that is often lacking. Some pens I’ve worked in were well built and flowed really well. These are the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of pens are often pieced together with bailing wire, bailing twine, rotten lumber, elbow grease, and Polish ingenuity. What looks like a firm footrest able to be used to propel yourself over the top in escape from a tiger-striped mama cow who blames you for her predicament is nothing but a false hope. All you are left with is going ass over tea kettle and falling to the dirt and cow shit while some pissy bovine rolls you into the side of the pen. The good life.

Lastly, if you are lucky, you will have some help around when you do decide to work the livestock. The luck only goes so far as you are not left to this headache by your lonesome. After that, you now have multiple creatures to curse and holler and hit with a cattle prod. Feller A thinks that we should take in the fewest head possible, so that we have room to work. Whistle-britches B thinks that’s folly and that we should put as many cows in the pen as possible so that they have less room to move around and will follow the leader. Both are wrong. Cows don’t like right angles, confined spaces, or people that are trying to interrupt their day of chewing on grass and napping. You know who is right? Billy. Billy read the text message that you sent him asking if he might want to help you work cows this weekend. Billy also turns read-receipts off in his phone. Sure, the message is delivered but as long as he doesn’t click it, Billy knows that you won’t know he saw it. From there, Billy makes sure to get up extra early and might go fishing. Billy doesn’t golf, but that doesn’t stop him from renting a cart and taking his hand-me-down clubs to the driving range. Billy might even just take a nap. Billy then catches up with you on Sunday at the local breakfast taco shop and sees you with black eyes and missing teeth and says, “Sorry man, I didn’t get your text until late last night. Did ya’ll get them cows worked?”

For as much as I and most other farmers bitch about working cows, it still beats an office job. At the end of the day, cows will eventually need to be worked. And it’s up to the farmers and ranchers to work them. They won’t like it. They’ll cuss and scream at animals that have no clue what’s happening. They’ll cuss and scream at people who have no clue what’s happening. Then they’ll get the job done, shower off, and do it all again tomorrow. Except Billy. Billy knows what’s up.

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