Thursday, January 26, 2012

On The Ranch With Jeff: Feeding The Cows And The Time I Almost Killed A Horse

When Jeff lived on the ranch, he learned to drive a stick shift the hard way. His uncle took him out in the middle of a pasture, got out and walked home. Jeff was left to figure things out. If this had happened to me, I would have sat down in the pasture and cried. Then I would have made some dandelion chains and called it a day. But I happen to think that men have a certain mechanical aptitude that I personally do not possess. Jeff figured things out that day, and it became his job to feed the cows. The ranch truck was one of those hot-wired numbers where you have to hop on your left leg three times, say a hail Mary and start 'er up. Jeff would load it up with hay and head off toward the pasture. The main difficulty with this operation was that being two places at once is not on Jeff's list of skills and capabilities. This problem was remedied by a clever trick that they had been using for years. When he reached the pasture, he would point the truck uphill, put it in gear and get out. He would hop on the back of the truck and begin tossing hay down to the cows. Each bale was bound by two wires, which had to be cut and carefully tracked. Apparently cows can eat the wire along with the hay** and as you can imagine, that doesn't go over too well with the cow's digestive system. If he ended up with an odd number of wires he would have to jump off and find it. All the while, the truck would chug its way up the pasture, oblivious to any obstacles in its way. Whenever the truck was approaching a boulder, Jeff would have to jump off the truck and reach in the window to redirect the truck. Then he would hop back up and drop some more hay. How's that for a summer job?

**Speaking of animals swallowing dangerous things...true story...when I was in high school I had a friend who had horses. Technically speaking, they were her step mom's horses. One afternoon we took them out for a ride. I still don't know if this was actually sanctioned by the step mom, or if my friend took advantage of her absence to go for a ride. Regardless, we saddled up both horses and went for a ride in the woods. We came across a creek and my friend said she was going to see if she could get her horse to jump the creek first, and then mine would follow. As I waited for her to coax her horse over, my horse was happily grazing away. My friend jumped the creek and turned around to call me across. When she saw my horse grazing, she began to spout off a multitude of words that are in no way kosher for this blog. I was flabbergasted because I had no idea why she was freaking out that the horse was grazing. As it turns out, my horse was eating star thistles which are bad. Very bad. Apparently there is the potential for the horse to die. My friend is explaining all this to me, peppered with a whole list of expletives. I felt terrible. We coaxed the horse across the creek and raced home. When we got there, my friend stuck a hose down the horses throat to wash them away (not sure if this is the preferred method...). I very vividly remember her reaching her arm down the horses throat feeling around for the thistles. She kept saying how her step mother would kill her if something happened to the horse. It was pretty tense. For the next few days I was on edge, hoping that nothing happened to the horse. Fortunately nothing did and I don't think she ever told her step mom.

1 comment:

Terry and Linda said...

As kind as you are I'm sure you were a nervous wreck before you felt sure the horse was alright.