Much of this business is about the odds, the likelihood that it will rain, that we will get the job done, be in the right place when the time comes, the reliability of which is always refined by experience. Then there are the odds that PETA will use this piece as an example of inhumane livestock practices that reflect poorly on our contemporary culture, already overburdened with popular judgments. Though the chance is fairly small, it concerns me, nonetheless, but misses the point of the story.
The difference between cowboys and cowmen are but shades of experience—the bigger picture as opposed to tunnel vision. I think of good cowboys as men of action, not indecision, and believe good cowmen look ahead through the eyes of cows. But there’s still a little cowboy in us all, regardless of age.
In this post about how we spent Labor Day, the heifer would have died, untended. In retrospect, we should have secured her front legs with the rope, but usually when they’re down, they stay down until the calf comes with a little help and we leave the pair to clean-up and bond. If we had been able to hold her to standstill, she might have lain back down—you grab what you can as it happens.
Robbin saw it, and probably thought of the corrals that were a quarter-mile away before we did—but we’re men of action, cowboys in our 60s and 70s riding a Kawasaki Mule. Whether or not I’ve captured the graphic and coarse humor that seems indigenous to this culture, I think it’s a fair reflection of what happened in a conversational style—educational if not entertaining. We are who we are, just trying to keep our livestock alive.