Westside Eagle-Observer

Brand every animal and pray!

- By Bill Bill is the pen name used by the Gravette-area author of this weekly column. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

We were surprised to find tracks of a vehicle in the calf pasture this morning. The calves have been weaned solid for about two weeks, and the cows care only for themselves.

I started counting and came up short by at least three head. The fourwheele­rs checked all corners and the calves were missing, but the tracks were all over the place. Now I was in a hurry to check the heifers and glad we had shipped the steers; a feedlot in the Oklahoma panhandle took them. And gentle old cows were edging into the picture, easy to catch and easy to load.

I made the trip back to headquarte­rs to call the local sale barn, the local law, the next county sale barn and thought of several others. Time was short, and I was in a big hurry to count the other cattle. My close relative took the pickup and started driving roads in case some got out or loose! We already surmised the cattle were stolen.

I counted heifers and was sure one was gone. The boys came along on the four-wheelers and checked all the fences for a hole or even a high place to crawl under. We didn’t lose any to another pasture or by crawling under. These heifers were homeraised and enjoyed a little feed before noon daily. They are fat and feisty but gentle and, thank goodness, branded! They are so nice this year, weigh about seven fifty, and are slick! Then the sickness came over me at losing one! I am ready to accept one dying or being crippled up but to have one stolen was not on my bucket list!

The boys went to the bull pasture at the new place. We moved all the bulls together but gave them plenty of room to bust each other up! They tired soon and got along pretty well. I loped to the cow pasture across the highway and a section away. We were sure the cows would be happy in a new field and away from the weaning calves. Before I got them counted the four-wheelers reported a bull gone and the tracks there. The tracks were down the fence line and all across the pasture. He must have been hard to catch!

I kept counting cows and was joined by the boys. The cow count was right and they were not going to be caught today either! They ran all directions and stopped and looked at us. We knew they were harder than any of the cattle to catch and far enough from home to escape the trial!

I headed home at a quick lope and found the close relative had found none. I put Jack up and rubbed him down as dinner was being fixed. The boys were already there and decided to stack a rick of wood we bought from the 4-H Club. Since we had all done a day’s work before the missing calves were discovered, we were hungry and tired! We washed up outdoors and hurried!

Didn’t talk much during the meal, but jumped when the phone rang! A call at noon is probably from the Medicare department again, and I just kept eating. She answered and motioned for me to come; it was the sale barn. They found them, all of the missing. The bull was meaner than a bear, and so were the others by the time they got the law there to witness the find. I was so relieved I didn’t say anything in return to the owner’s words, just grunted! The fellers were from Nebraska and had made big sweeps in Missouri and Oklahoma before heading up here! Jail time was coming to them or worse! Roses bloomed for us.

We were assured by the deputy that they were taken straight to the county headquarte­rs for stealing instead of working. Their roping ability must have been good as they roped from a moving truck and got three! They could get jobs; if not here, farther west has need of real cowboys, and I think they are qualified!

I guess I learned lots today! Lesson after lesson was produced for my benefit and I didn’t even know it! All the worry and the nerve to not pray were the first mistake! I talk a good story about trusting Him and then doing the opposite when in dire need! We all forget, rely on ourselves or others and never give Him the call. Don’t want to name the rest of the facts, as this one was bad enough!

Have you been bird hunting? I saw a dove in the road and thought it was a quail for a minute. And look for big birds as a neighbor has lost 20 chickens to something that he thinks has to be birds. Go figure, a skunk or coon eats there, but the fowl just disappear. Oil your weapons and go big bird hunting! Deer season is almost here, and we could use the practice!

Everyone has an opinion and mine is to continue to brand every animal. I am sure grateful we did that! Remember the Alamo and pray!

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