I'm a bit tuckered out from all the fun on the farm and soccer field this morning. I think I will borrow a story to end our focus on the farm, at least for the weekend. We are kind of "all about" farming right now, so pardon me if that seems to be all I chat about right now. We should be about half done with harvest. Woo!
This story is a true story, written in the spring of '01, with just a few embellishments and a couple name changes to protect those involved. Enjoy while I go grab some supper and think about trying to have sweet dreams tonight.
My evening started out to be a rather normal evening. I was going to run out supper to Tall Guy and then come back and clean. I had friends from school coming over the next evening to see where I am going to spend the rest of my life. On the way home, I passed Grandma pulling a chemical tank out to Tall Guy, who was working ground. When I got home and changed clothes, Tall Guy called me on the radio to ask if I thought I could drive the chemical tank back home. I said yes, so I went out to do just that, but once I made it to the truck, Tall Guy saw something he didn’t like on the wheel, and I had to take it in town for it to be checked out. While at the place where farmers take their chemical wagons to be poked at, I caught heck from Paul and Mike for not saying hello to them that morning. They had been at the house working on a truck as I left for school that morning. (I DID look for them, but I was running late and had to go!). The wheel checked out, and after promising to never be stuck up again, I headed back to the house with the wagon.
I made it home, cooked supper, and headed out to find Tall Guy. He was in a new field, and I was driving a different truck because I am not allowed to unhitch anything by myself, and I don’t think I would even if I did know how to do it! We had a nice supper in the truck, and then I took Tall Guy to another farm so he could move another truck with chemicals back with him to the current field. Did you know farming involves a lot of moving? This is where the night started to change again. It was almost 7:00 p.m., and I still thought I had plenty of time to clean the house until Tall Guy had a call on his cell phone from one of his cousin's homes saying that another cousin, a few miles north of us, had two calves out. That call sent us off in “hot pursuit” because the sunlight was fading fast. We stopped by the house to pick up Grandpa's truck, and then headed north toward the escapees.
There they were, in a newly planted corn field, no fences, about a half mile long and infinitely wide. It was their first night on the farm. The two had been bought at the sale barn that afternoon so they had no idea where they were or where they needed to go. Eight of us headed out to the field; some went out on foot, I was in the truck, and a cousin was on a motorbike. Time was a big factor because we were losing daylight. Did I mention the ultra light? I actually knew where we were going before we got there because there was an ultra light plane hovering and then diving in the sky trying to keep the calves moving in the right direction. In hindsight, I’m still not sure how helpful that was. I’m certain the pilot was trying to to help, but his plane spooked the calves about 50% of the time. We actually have several ultra lights flying around our skies, but let’s get back to our calves.
At first, we tried to bring them in by surrounding them on foot, but that calves had too much energy. They were about half grown, too big to be cute but small enough to sort of manage. Just when we had them out of the field and across the road heading for the house, they bolted back out to the field. We doggedly rounded them up again and maneuvered them in to a pasture. (That sentence might be simple to read, but the real action was not!)
Now, one was in the barn , but the other one ran through the electrical fence, across the road, and, yep, back out into the field. By this time it was very difficult to even see the calf; it was dark red. I went back and got the truck, and Tall Guy, his dad, and his cousin jumped in the back while Tall Guy’s Uncle D rode shotgun with me. This time we had to drive out in the planted field that I had managed to stay out of until this point. As we looked for the calf, I had Tall Guy telling me where to go and how to drive from back in the cheap seats and Uncle D telling me where to go and how to drive and grabbing the steering wheel on the inside.
This all reminded me of a scene from The Dukes of Hazard, only it was probably the unedited version:
“ *&%^&^%& Slow down!”
“ &^%^&5 Stay out of the corn!”
“^%^&^%&^ Follow that calf!”
There were several guys jumping in and out of the back of the truck in the middle of all this chaos. I truly tried my best, but there came a moment when Uncle D jumped out of the truck to head off the calf, and I did a Chinese fire drill to end up in the passenger’s seat so Uncle D could drive.
After much swerving, speeding, backing up, “nudging” the calf with the front of the truck, and general swearing, the darned thing made it back up to the house and in to the pasture. Tall Guy had the wired fence fixed, and we hoped the calf was too pooped to try and make another break. We knew we were too pooped to chase it.
There was some discussion about putting it in the barn, but it was too dark to risk it. There was also discussion about shooting the dog who started this whole mess and smacking the person who let the calves roam in the pasture on their first night. (That would have been Uncle D, but no one seemed to want to point out this fact: new calves should be “barned up” for a few days when they first arrive at a new place until they know the place better.) The final vote was to let it be and head for home. There was a final bit of discussion about how the farmer whose cornfield we were in would feel about all this traffic the next morning. I would have liked to have gone up in the ultra light to see how the field looked the next day. Someone from Arizona would probably think that aliens had landed there or at least tried to leave a message!
By the time Tall Guy, Grandpa, and I made it back home, it was 9:00, and my cat Pumpkin had not cleaned one inch of the house! Lazy cat! I picked up what I could, while Tall Guy hopped in the shower, and we called it a night around 10:45. And that’s how a typical night goes out here on the farm.