Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's a Ducky Day!

     Ranchers are much like domesticated ducks. It doesn't take a whole lot to make us happy. Just shut off the wind, give us some sunshine, and, above all, send us rain and we will flaunt our feathers and quack with happiness. Cows are hardy creatures--they seem to be able to exist on bare necessities. They can find a green sprout underneath a pile of dirt, given enough time. And it amazes me how the momma cows can provide, producing calves that flourish even in dismal conditions like we have experienced this spring.
     But last night it finally rained. I didn't sleep much because I didn't want to miss hearing one single drop of rain splat on our roof. It was a beautiful rain, soft and widespread. There was some lightning associated with it, but, in all, it was not violent. It was, as they say, just what the doctor ordered. This morning we were blessed with birds chirping rock 'n roll tunes rather than droll, twangy, 'cryin-in-your-beer' type songs. We were also blessed with puddles in our yard and a lake on the south side of the corral.
     You don't have to be a duck to enjoy the water in the yard. But it didn't take the ducks long to find the liquid treasure and begin splashing away. The chickens merrily clucked and scratched on the "beaches". The cows waded into the ditches and murmured how thankful they were not to have to travel a half mile to water. It was all provided in the ditches for their enjoyment.

     All the animals--dogs, cats, ducks, cows, horses--and humans seemed mesmerized by this environmental change overnight. Everyone seemed to be smiling. The cows didn't tarry over their hay like usual. They wanted to wrap their lips around the moist, albeit still brown, grass. The horses bucked and kicked. The dogs swam a quick lap across the duck's self-proclaimed pond. And I soaked in all of the wonders given to us by The Great Provider. Yes, it was a ducky day indeed!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Yard Cow

     We have an official yard cow here at our ranch. She's number 183--she doesn't really have a name, but we refer to her by that ear tag number. She's worn that number for several years and for those same years she has held the distinction of being our official yard cow.
     Number 183 usually waits until May to become the yard cow. She always calves early in the season and proceeds to be a great momma cow--that includes teaching her offspring EVERYTHING that calf does and does not need to know--like how to be a future yard cow (if it's a heifer). This is one of those cows who sticks her nose in the caker and stops the range cubes from falling out because she needs to get her "cake" fix before the rest of the herd gets a bite. She also has to beat Numbers 55 and 57, respectively, to the caker.
     She doesn't have to beat any other cow when it comes to being the yard cow. About May, when the weeds are beginning to come on strong and some of the green grass is poking through (remember, this is a story and today, it's a fantasy story!), the yard cow likes to step across the cattle guard and wander on into the yard to see what's growing. She teaches her calf how to gracefully step across the cattle guard as well. There is no jumping, there is no twinkle-toeing across, it's just a long stretch and she's on the other side. Her calf usually has to take a running leap, but is usually successful. If not, the calf can wait until the yard cow returns from her adventures in the yard.
     But since there is no green grass poking through the oceans of sand now pooled in the yard, Number 183 knows where the horse hay is. So she steps across the cattle guard and makes a beeline for the horse hay. She is quite uninhibited, this yard cow. She doesn't mind leaving evidence that she's been in the yard. She sees me coming out of the house or through the yard, and she immediately high-tails it out of the yard. She knows her limits, but she has to push the bounds.
     This morning, Number 183 decided to take a little closer look at domesticated living. There I sat in the dining room, having done the chores and I was relaxing with a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and preparing to do my Bible study when something outside the window catches my eye. I did a double-take and there, looking right back at me through the dining room window was Number 183. She was scoping out the dining room, either checking to see if I was home or to see if there might be some horse hay or something better in there. Or maybe she was just trying to figure out a way to escape the umpteenth consecutive day of tornadic-strength winds.
     There is a question here that needs answered for those of you who know me and know who, or what, else resides on this ranch. Where, you may ask, were our two fearless cow dogs--Tulo and Air Jordan? Stretched out in front of the dog house, totally unconcerned that Number 183 had invaded their space. And this is what I feed them expensive dog food for?
     I opened the back door of the house, step outside and whistle at Tulo (aka Patches). She hops up all excited, grabs her ball, and heads for the door. Number 183 pivots in the front yard and heads for the cattle guard. I slammed the door shut and left both of them to fend for themselves.