I nearly killed my father-in-law today. I really didn’t mean to, I like the guy. It was an accident.
After feeding cows this morning he graciously waited while I got my horse and we ran the cows in to sort off some late calves. Coyote plodded slowly towards the corn field wanting desperately to return to his herd, until he saw the four wheeler. He was so thrilled. He wasn’t going to be alone after all. He is pretty sure that he is a four wheeler. Together with his buddy we gathered the cows in from the corn field. It was going so well. We got them in to the first pen with no problems. I was thrilled to be riding. Coyote was trying to run away with me. Life was good. The unwanted cows happily trailed back out the gate. No trouble no fuss. Down to the calves and a couple remaining cows we took them up to the barn and a smaller pen to finish sorting.
Once again no problems, easy cheesy, slick as silk, piece of cake. The cows ran right out the gate. The calves stayed in as was the goal. But….
There was one calf. A little runt of a calf with a red tinge to his hide. He, it was decided, needed to go back out with the cows. I don’t know why, it is not for me to ask these things. I am simply sitting on my horse doing as I am told, happy to be out and about.
That scrawny little runt of a calf refused to go out the gate. He would get right to it and dodge back past us to the other calves. I think they were egging him on. A couple of times though he would stop and just stand, there under Coyotes nose. My father-in-law thought out loud about different pens we could move them to and schemes that might separate them. I really don’t know what all he might have said. I wasn’t listening. I had a horse, I had a rope, I could do this I thought. So as he droned on I dropped a loop around the calf’s neck.
It took me a moment to get over the shock of catching something. I am not a roper. I briefly thought that I should have worn gloves. Then I got my dally, Coyote turned like a pro and we drug the calf out the gate. I had time to be proud of my self. We had done it. Job completed.
Then the calf leaped sideways and banged into father-in-law and gate. Oops, but not to bad. He then came over to get the rope off. Now we had a problem. The scrawny runt of a calf grew to gigantic proportions. He bellowed and kicked and ran in circles. I have to remind myself that my father-in-law is seventy-ish, he is not at all feeble. But still he is in his seventies, he shouldn’t be fighting with a calf on the end of a rope.
He was flung about, stepped on, whipped around and generally beat up.
In the end the rope was retrieved. The father-in-law survived and I vow never to do it again. I will never ever head a calf again, trying to be helpful. Next time we will do something less drastic. Next time, next time I’ll heel it.