T.H. and I have been getting along pretty well lately. Not one skirmish in the sorting pens. Because lately there haven’t been any cattle to sort.  Today he wants to gather 80 cows and calves, sort, doctor and move them to the west pasture.  He drives out in the pickup to see where they are. He then calls to give me my instructions. T.H. just loves to instruct me.  Usually in the form of a negative rhetorical question. “Why don’t you saddle up Paint, ride out and meet me at the highway gate?” (Really? Didn’t we already say that’s what we were doing?  Am I supposed to do it or give him a reason why not?)

I say a prayer for Divine Assistance to remain “Reasonably Sweet” for one day.  Just today. Hope fades quickly with his first set of tedious instructions on bovine relocation. ” Why don’t you go through the trees east of the pens so you don’t miss any…blah blah blah.”  ( Really? Haven’t I done this 1000 times before) Yet I am encouraged by the prospect that TH may not be joining me for the gather.  We Three  (Me, Paint, Puncher) might be alone. No noise. No witnesses. Reasonable Sweetness has a chance!

A Fat Chance……We Three find the cattle and head them west. Here comes T.H., barrelling over in the truck.  He’s heading straight for me right through where the cows need to go.  He motions me over to him with his index finger. (Really? I can’t make this stuff up)  No doubt for more instructing. I stop. I look at him.  

  “Terah?” He says.

 “WHAT!? “  My response is lacking in Reasonable Sweetness. He exhales with exasperation while shaking his head. 

 “Here we go again! We haven’t even started yet and you’re already mad”. (Observant man).

“All I said was “What”?  (Get over it).  Deep breath.  Another prayer.  I manage a sarcastically sweet and painful….   What, dear?”    Which must have suited him as he proceeds to give me further instructions.   “Some of them have already gone through the gate ( Really? I can see) and are going north  (Really? I have 20/20). Make sure you don’t let ’em head north before they go through the gate (Really? How many times have we done this?) or we’ll never get ‘em.”  (Really? Did he just say “we” from the front seat of the truck with the A/C on?)

We Three (not four) ride off with the cattle. The only way my prayer will be answered today is if I don’t speak at all. I take a spiritual vow of silence. God likes you to help yourself.
We Three get the cattle penned.  I ride over to tie up Puncher. Getting off your horse in the pens with T.H. and his sorting stick is a HUGE risk. But I had to get her out of the way. It was a gamble I had to take. He had his back to me. I thought it was safe. I thought he didn’t see me.  Then, I hear the “kiss of death” in the form of another rhetorical question:

“Hon,  why don’t you tie up Paint and come over here and help me sort these cows out real quick? It’ll only take a sec.”  Dammit!  I’m toast!

 Rule #1 When in the pens with T.H., NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER dismount. He will throw a diversion at you and you will never see your horse again. You will spend the rest of the day afoot… on the ground….. sorting cattle….. without your horse…..  in the dirt… and the heat… and the cow “leftovers”. You will become his personal “Step-and-Fetch-It” girl. You are safe as long as you don’t get off. He will never ask you to get off. But, once you are off, you are doomed. Everyone knows this about him. Even when the cowboys are helping us it’s a contest to see who stays on their horse the longest. This is not my first rodeo.  It was a foolish miscalculation. I feel like such an amatuer.
What would a reasonably sweet woman do?  I grit my teeth into a forced smile. Silence is my only hope for spiritual growth. Maybe this time it really will only take a ‘sec’. The cattle are in one small pen. He wants me to push them up so he can gate sort them. I inch towards Paint.  “No, It’ll be easy, they’ll run right out”.

A reasonably sweet woman would agree with me. It’s dusty, stinky and hot down here on the ground.  He instructs me on which ones to push. (Really) Which I would be able to SEE…..IF I WAS STILL ON MY HORSE!!!!!   Several hours (20 min) later we only have a few out, due to miscommunication.
I’m surrounded by cattle running around in circles. I’m invisible to them. I’m coated with dirt and dung. My feet hurt. It’s hotter yet.

Then I feel a sting on the back of my right calf. I rub it with the top of my left boot.  A minute later I feel two more stings working their way up my inner thigh…. What the @#$$%!… I look down and to my dismay, I am standing in a huge red ant pile.  #$%*#!!!   I jump sideways grabbing the corral pole. I step on my right spur and in one (very graceful) motion, I pull my right foot out of my boot and my leg out of my jeans.  Two red ants are chewing on my upper thigh.  T.H. stares at me….grins at my state of undress….”Oh hon, not here”.   He immediately has to throw up his arm to shield his face from the trajectory of my boot.

ants everywhere
I flick off the ants, hitch up my pants, and retrieve my boot. Still honoring my vow of silence, I walk out of the pen….He seriously asks “Where are you going?”.  With surprising serenity I temporarily break my vow of silence “God made horses for a reason” (to save our marriage!!!). I swing up on Paint. This time we really do finish in a “sec”. 
I could make it look like an accident but that would not be Reasonably Sweet.
 Mercifully he drives off in the pickup leaving me no further instructions.  Smart man. We Three drive the cattle to the west pasture. I don’t see T.H. again until sundown.   

Miracles do happen. Thanks to my vow of silence my prayer was answered. I’m grateful that I only asked for one day of Reasonable Sweetness.  It is not the life for me. 

Love,   Cowgirl Red      

P.S. When I ask for something in prayer I feel like I have to at least try. I tried. It’s over. 

P.S. S. As you can see the ranch is still burnt up with drought. The cattle will have to be shipped out next week. Three months early.

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  1. Cat Urbigkit says:

    Oh but I laughed at loud while reading this one, especially the caption on the last photo! Great post! And I am so sorry you guys still aren't getting any moisture. Take care!

  2. Catherine... says:

    You see, silence is golden….and yes you can have the rain clouds now…I've had enough rain for the mo….

  3. Fairchild Farmgirl says:

    You and I would make great nieghbors! I'm seriously glad that others weather the same storm D and I do! =)

  4. creativepotager says:

    My parents have registered horned herefords in north central British Columbia Canada. My mother has farmed while my father logged until he retired at which time there was a realignment of lead responsibilities for the the cattle. They are 74 and 75 years old and still saw that 40 new calves were standing on the ground this spring. I hope you don't mind if I print your post and pop in the mail to them. They do not have electricity or internet. Pleasure to meet you Terah. Your writing photography are a pleasurable experience. Terrill 🙂

  5. creativepotager says:

    P.S. I am sorry about the drought and having to ship the cattle early. Never a good situation.

  6. Cowgirl Red says:

    Terrill, please feel free. I love that you are sending my blog to your parents. That really tickles me. Im sure they have worked lots of calttle together and can get a big laugh at me. Thank you! Terah

  7. Anna Circo says:

    I thought my day was intense. You take the cake or cinnamon roll, whichever you prefer. 🙂

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