Quite a few years ago, our youngest was just a baby, I said sure, I could drive the semi and haul a load of hay. It was just a couple of miles from home.I could handle a stickshift semi that far. I can drive a stick. Learned to drive in one, the memory of which is still mocked by my loving mother. Once you can drive a stick you can drive any stick. From a tractor to a pickup. It’s a good skill to have.
I drove over to the highway and around the field while my husband loaded the hay trailer. Then headed for home with a full load of hay. All was well until I got to the big hill between our house and the hay field. The semi lugged up the hill then died.
I let it roll backwards down the hill, keeping on the road with my superior driving skills 🤦🏼♀️ Double checking to make sure I had it in first I tried again, and again, and again. Before I finally called my husband nearly in tears to come back and save me.
He came back, hopped in, and drove home.
I followed on the fourwheeler fuming. When he hopped out at home perfectly happy and cheerful to inform me that I had forgotten to shift out of high range. that was the closest we’ve ever come to divorce.
This weekend we worked the calves and hauled them to pasture. On the second load, in the heat of the hottest day yet this year, the pickup I was driving with a trailer full of calves decided it was done. I feel I should mention here that the calves are hauled separate to keep the cows from smashing them. As soon as they all get to pasture they will be reunited.
Anyway, with a trailer full of calves, their moms in the semi ahead of us with my husband driving, the pickup decided it couldn’t make it up the big hill. A different big hill this time.For years it has had issues going in the heat, it lugs and lurches. The mechanics can never find the problem because it only does it in the heat with a trailer. Today it was done. After coasting down hill and pushing as hard as we could from the inside to help it make it up the hills, it had come as far as it could.
The pickup was dead.
I backed it down the hill. Managing to keep on the road this time too. Called my husband to come save me and hopped out with our son to sit beside the road. I notice a few themes to my life.
It was HOT out.
The mechanic said he would drive out from town and take a look at the pickup. A neighbor drove by in his pickup and trailer, he stopped and asked if we needed anything. There are so many good people out there.
The mechanic got there diagnosed it as a fuel pump issue, realized we had a load of calves on and offered a ride to the pasture. He quickly hooked a tow rope from his pickup to ours. I wanted nothing to do with this. I feel I should mention this is all on nearly deserted gravel roads. So I said I would go take the semi. Even a fully loaded cattle pot would be easier than a pickup towing a pickup and loaded trailer. I climbed into the air-conditioned cab of the semi that had been idling patiently as it waited. After the heat of the day it felt heavenly. I looked around and realized it wasn’t the automatic semi. It was the stick shift! The one of my former epic failure.
Lessons learned the hard way are lessons learned well.
I checked to make sure it was in low range. I looked at the chart on the visor to make sure I knew where first was. My first guess would have been reverse. I have driven this semi hauling hay over the last couple of summers. The epic hay failure wasn’t the last time, just the most memorable. When you drive something three or four times a year the basics don’t come natural. I got it in gear. Didn’t kill it taking off. I was well on my way to making it the few more miles to the pasture.
Up through the gears. I did remember how to shift without the clutch. I was feeling pretty good until we got to the downhill side. With a heavy shifting load of cattle on behind thirty five miles an hour feels like sixty as I eased down the hill. The turn was at the bottom I’d have to downshift. Never my forte. Far easier to come to a complete stop and start again at first. I remembered to shift to the low range! Prove that positive punishment can be effective, if miserable, training.
Finally I made it to the pasture. Now all I needed to do was pull into the narrow driveway so the trailer could be backed across the road and into the pasture. While my husband, child, and the mechanic watched. As I slowed to make the turn at a creeping rate, I let off the clutch and the engine lugged ad nearly died.
I had forgotten to shift to low range. Here. Now that there was an audience.
Quickly shoving the clutch back in before it actually died I rectified the problem. Missed the corner post with the trailer. Left the semi sit for my husband to back into the pasture!
That was enough excitement for me for one day.
The cattle unloaded. Mechanic and husband left the trailer and towed the pickup on into town. Son and I sat waiting to be rescued with a different pickup. It was hot. I convinced my son the tank would make a good pool. It was all good. Hard learned lesson had saved me from making a complete fool of myself and the cattle were out of the hot trailer onto the good green grass where they will spend the summer being feral and fat.
People have this idea of what a cowboy looks like. Men in hats, boots, pickups, and a blue heeler along.
While that may be the case, sometimes or even most of the time, there is another type too.
Being a ‘cowboy’ has nothing to do with a ‘look’. It drives me crazy when I see ‘cowboys’ all decked out and dressed up in ‘cowboy’ clothes who have never done a day of real ranch work in their lives. My children will even say that they would look like a real ‘cowboy’ if only they had a hat to go with whatever outfit they are wearing. I always stop and give them a lecture about how the clothes they wear don’t matter. They are doing the work, caring for the animals. They ARE cowboys and no clothes are going to make a difference in that.
We went along with a friend today as she moved a pair back to the pasture they needed to be in. The cow and calf had been brought in to offer the calf some care. The calf was doing better now and ready to back out on grass. In a Buick and a mini van, with a poodle, standard, not mini! and a small child along, we got the calf where she needed to be. When the cow wanted to go the other way the small child stood his ground in a gate and steered her the right direction. With more enthusiasm than skill the poodle tried his hand at being a cow dog. In tennis shoes and shorts my friend had no trouble getting the work done that needed done.
We be cowboys.
Looks and clothes mean nothing, not in any aspect of life. Doing the work that needs done and taking care of the animals is the important thing.
We survived a week of vacation bible school. Last year it was canceled and life was so busy I wondered how we had ever managed to fit it in. This year they had it again and I realized how much easier life had been without. That sounds awful doesn’t it. I agreed to help, with some reservation and reluctance. A few people had declined because of worries about covid. I want my kids to be able to participate so I did it anyway.
One of the themes was God loves a cheerful giver. I was not able to be cheerful about it. There was too much work sitting home undone to worry about. There were times there were two people doing the same job. If I wasn’t needed I would rather be getting my own work done.
The kids had fun though and are learning things far more important than work. That is what is important.
They stood on opposite sides of the stage for the program which made it very difficult to get them both in the video. That and a rath unappealing head that was in the middle and impossible not to capture while trying to video.
For the last couple of weeks The Goblin Child has been meeting a couple of friends after school to practice. They had decided they wanted to do something for the talent show. The parents decided that figuring out what that something should be ahead of time would be a good idea. In the end they developed a simple but fun routine. That one we knew about.
Apparently 8’s class had been working on something too. We had no idea about that one. In fact we almost missed it because I was busy talking to the people who had brought in their trick pony. Thankfully I didn’t stand out there talking for too long!
A couple of weeks ago the kids youngest cousin was up and had her new bike along. The Goblin Child was very upset that a child younger than her knew how to ride a bike and she didn’t. I really thought the bike had training wheels but hadn’t paid much attention and if it got her riding a bike then, whatever.
The next day The Goblin Child decided she was going to ride a bike. So she did. She got on, put her powerful little mind to it, and was riding without help or training wheels.
The bike she was riding was way to small but maybe the low center of gravity helped. We started working on a new bike for her anyway. There was a very nice old bike in one of the sheds. Its fender is decorated with a Chadron bicycle license from 1974, and that’s only the top one. It is mint, except for needing new tires and a chain. Getting those was more than my feeble little mind it capable of so I got frustrated and bought a new bike instead the last time at Walmart. It fit in the trunk of the Buick along with the groceries and a 50 pound bag of calf milk!
She took to the larger bike with hardly any difficulty.
Now 8 is working on learning to ride a bike too…
As new book purchases come in I get to see just a little bit of information, a name and where the purchase was from.
Most of the people who buy Understanding Horse Whorls are from the United States, followed by Canada, Australia, and The United Kingdom. I love you guys, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not quite as exciting to see those as it is when the purchases are from places like Costa Rica, Germany, France, Netherlands, Paraguay, or Bulgaria.
My daughter sat down with me and asked where the first person who bought the book had been from (it was the US). That lead us to a search back through my email history and a lesson in geography. We sat down with google maps and searched the world to see where these places were. In Bulgaria we zoomed in and got a street view of a random small town. I would have stayed at that for hours. It was beautiful and so different from here. I would do it the whole world over if there was enough time in a day.
For the fun of it we started a map keeping track of the different countries. All countries the book has sold in are marked. The numbers are not even close to exact. Neither are the places. I let google chose random locations since I have no idea where anyone was from.
One of the things I love about this page is learning about people and their horses from around the world. I now know about the Carthusian strain of Andalusians and the Kaimanawa of New Zealand. There’s always so much more to know though. In the comments tell us where you are from and something about the horse culture in your area. It doesn’t matter where you are from, the US is foreign to many members.
There were only two of the old white face cows left. I watch them carefully every year waiting for heifers. Last year there was one. That was when there were three of the white faces. That one is gone now, old and gaunt she barely managed to raise her last heifer calf. That calf was scrawny but I took a chance and saved her anyway. Genetics are still there even if nutrition wasn’t.
This year I didn’t think the two remaining ones were bred. Until one surprised me with a calf. Then she went down. We tried some doctoring but even if it might have helped she kept stretching her hind legs out behind her as she crawled along on her knees. She wasn’t going to be able to get up.
With the payloader we set out to catch the calf. It was awful. She bellowed and crawled on her front legs as I grabbed the calf and hauled her into the bucket. My heart broke for them both, why couldn’t we wait until she was dead? Why torture the poor girl. The path was already set, the calf caught. No point in arguing for turning the calf loose to try to catch again another time. Not much hope of it being an argument I could win anyway.
On the ride back I sat looking at this darling white face calf. I had watched her since birth, wondering if she would grow out good enough to save. She had so much pink skin. Would she burn too badly? Each eye was graced with a whorl. How could I let her go?
So we ended up with her. I had not wanted to feed any calves this year. We are busy enough without another chore. I want to go see my family. I don’t want to be tied down by yet another job. We have her anyway. Somehow everything is managing to fit in. She was named Rose by one, White Face by the other. Depending on who is feeding her she goes by one or both names. The kids are fighting it but doing a pretty good job of doing the feeding themselves.
I feel awful about her being alone. We are all supposed to be taking the time to hang out and pet her. The goats stayed up with her for a little while. They weren’t happy about it and Rose was scared of them. It wasn’t a great arrangement. Then they left. It didn’t seem worth bringing them back.
The Goblin Child has been wanting to show a bottle calf at fair. I’m trying to figure out how to do 4h. Rose is slowly being halter trained.
While we play with her or take turns feeding. The kids like to climb the small A frame calf hut. It has been named Mount Everest and they happily scale it.
We’ll see how Rose grows out. We have had bottle calves that were able to make heifers before. She is growing beautifully and may be able to stick around. If so she is The Goblin Child’s. We get a brand registered and she can start her own little herd.
The Goblin Child is in HAL this year. HAL is short for high ability learners. This is the first year kids are eligible, in second grade that is. They look at test scores and I don’t know what else. There are two other kids from her class, both great kids and good friends of hers, and there are three fifth grade kids. They stay after school on Tuesdays and do fun science projects and other fun things. She seems to be really enjoying it. Even if it didn’t start until the year was almost over because of covid. At least they got a short time and hopefully will get to do it next year too.
Her goal is to have 8 in there next year with her because the boy from her class has an older sister in fifth grade who is in there. She works hard towards that goal prodding him with it as she tries to make him learn to read. It does seem to help. Especially since ‘the field trip’.
Because it’s a small group they got to have a field trip period and choose something really fun for what they did.
One of the after school projects was researching available options, what they offered, when they would be open, how much it cost. They settled on Rushmore cave, suggested by the teacher. I have my suspicions that it was her plan all along but she wanted to make a project out of it. There is the cave, and all kinds of rides to go with it.
We volunteered to go along. I researched it too and found that adults were needed for the younger kids to go on the rides. The teacher preferred that we didn’t so we took 8 and headed up to the hills separately to do our own fun stuff. We went to Spearfish the back way and had a beautiful drive through the hills in the fog and even some snow. Played for awhile. Then headed to the cave to pick up the Goblin Child and enjoy the rides ourselves for a bit.
We got there just in time to be begged to get a ticket and take The Goblin Child on the ride that needed an adult along 🙄 It was fun. 8 got to enjoy the rides for long enough then we ate at Hu Hots. Then finally drag ourselves home, exhausted.
Now she has decided we’re going back for her birthday. With all the cousins. I’m not sure we are quite willing to pay for all of that. We’ll have to see what we can do.