Gone

But not forgotten.

I must admit. It was a little emotional watching the two pot loads of cattle roll up the hill towards the lane out of there. Last night at dusk I was able to get the last four baby calves herded into the small pen on the corral over on the west farm. The cow and feeder calf would have to spend the night outside the pen if they were too flighty to be corralled. I had over a hundred head penned up and I wasn’t going to spook them all trying to wrestle the last two in. It turns out that job was done by the cowboy crew my brother hired to help. When I showed up with my brother’s portable loading chute-ramp they had the wild one caught and trailered and the tame shy one caught trying to trailer her. The hundred in the corral were pretty stirred up after that show but I was able to talk them down. Sometimes a familiar voice is all it takes.

I can’t help feeling like I sold them out. Probably because I did. Or I will. Next Wednesday at the Dunlap, Iowa sale barn run by the Schaben family. It’s advertised as a whole herd displacement. Which is fitting since I entered into re-ownership of the herd back during the Whole Herd Dairy Buyout USDA program of the 1980’s great farm crises. In their infinite wisdom the Feds bought out whole herds of dairy cattle to reduce a perceived oversupply of milk. They bought ’em out and sent ’em off to slaughter temporarily crashing the price of beef cattle. When I temporarily took advantage of the boondoggle to match Dad’s herd so our 50/50 farming enterprise could be expanded into cattle I had no idea those seven cows would turn into over a hundred by thirty years later. I say re-ownership because Dad’s seven cows were what he kept back when he gave my little brother the calf crop to buy him out on their 50/50 deal.

My younger brother’s half of the cows were what he had bought from me when I went into the Navy. Dad had given me a feedlot heifer that had calved in the feedlot and I had wrestled into the barn along with it’s new calf “saving” it. He kept back one himself when he sold out to quit farming and the two cows were all that was left of a sixty cow herd that had grown from 16 head of gate cut heifers he had bought back from a sale barn in 1950. One was mine and one was his. All I had to do was take care of them and their calves. After growing up doing chores on a whole herd having only two was like a vacation. Stay-cation? He advised to never take the gate cut because all the flighty cattle bolt out of the gate first. Did I mention the one we had to rope from galloping horse back? Now their gone. But not without an attempted flight to safety. So I’ll advise it too, never take the gate cut.

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Domo

I hope you had a nice weekend. The omnipotent federal government’s three day weekend. One day off for each Abrahamic religion. If only they gave em Friday off, maybe the ol Muslims would feel a little more at home and calm down a little bit. The one a year they do regularly give off is called Good Friday.  You think that would be a sign it’s not a bad Idea. Yea I know everybody hates Mondays so it’s nice to have it off once in a while but that seems to only move the sucky day to Tuesday. Maybe Monday wouldn’t suck so bad if we had Friday off. Monday’d be so far from Thursday that you wouldn’t even remember what work is by then. Sunday would seem doubly deliciously decadent after having two whole days to rest up for it. I know decadence on Sunday isn’t the point but not working is decadence to me. Three days of not working sounds like indulgent decadence.

I farm and that means daily chores so I’m exempt from taking one day off each week. God don’t mind me watering and haying his cattle. Being born in a manger during hay feeding season I’m sure he was very familiar with the drill. I have to tend the fire too. However, after the third day with afternoon temps in the mid fifties I sort of let the wood stove go out Sunday night. So I couldn’t help enjoying the crisp dawn air to work up a sweat splitting the firewood outside the basement window. After waking up to a chilled house with a running furnace. It’s not work if you enjoy it, right? A body needs limbered up. Saturday and Sunday I didn’t do too much so out of the three I got a day off, even if it took all three to work it in. I wish I felt inspired to write something poetic.  Not that this is work. It’s just poetic seems to be the only thing that gets any likes around here. Maybe I’ll tag this poetry and see if it’s all robo likes.

It sure isn’t robo written. Domo …….

Cc

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Need To Know

“Come on you two birds, you need to know how to do this.” Dad was walking through the basement heading outside. We had been cutting firewood in the basement using an old two man handsaw on a homemade (Dad made) sawbuck. We finished cutting the log and headed outside with the curiosity quickening our steps. Dad was out in the garage getting an ax. We’d already learned how to chop through a tree using an ax. What was Dad talking about? I was maybe nine or ten, my older brother was two years older. We already knew everything, didn’t we? Dad headed out to the runway through the corn crib and gated up the north end. We were sent to get more gates.

Dad sent us down to lock up some first litter gilts in the huge chicken coop down the hill that Dad was using for a hog house. Then he came down and let them all out but one. We herded the one sow up into the alleyway of the crib and gated the south end. It was a lot easier than I thought, when Dad started us up the hill I thought he was crazy letting the critter out of the “hog house”. Once corralled in the crib Dad grabbed the ax and started walking the gilt around the alley. The ax was one of the single bladed type with a “hammer head” on the other side of the blade. Gradually the gilt excepted the new shadow and started to relax and eat some corn on the floor.

Dad stood there a minute letting it eat and then the hammer came down. Hard! He caught the critter clean between the eyes and down that hog went, it’s knees buckling. Before my brother and I could finish exchanging wide eyed glances he yanked the knife out of his pocket. After grabbing it’s snout and holding it’s head up, throat taut Dad’s face contorted into some kind of mad, maniacal expression as he plunged it into the stunned animals left side neck right below the ear. Then with a kind of grinding wiggling motion that knife went clean across to the other ear. The blood gushed. Dad released the snout and stood back straightening up. My brother and I exchanged another glance that relayed the thought, “You don’t fuck around with Dad!” We hung it up to bleed out and Dad started skinning off the hide.

By evening the hog had been gutted, sawed in half down the spine using a neighbor’s bone saw and carted into the basement for further processing. The fat was taken into town to be rendered into lard and the meat was cut up into the common cuts of pork on a long table we’d moved to the basement specifically for the project. Some was ground into sausage using a hand cranked grinder clamped to the edge of the table. We ate pork quite a lot after that. We learned some valuable lessons that winter, the most valuable being; Stay out of Dad’s reach. My older brother, who still to this day works in a pork processing plant, I claim was ruined for life.

Cc

Just in case you need to know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_slaughter

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No Ledge

I was getting ready to write this and decided I wanted to listen to music while I wrote. Above was what I fell upon as my choice. Fill free to play it while you read. No, that’s not a typo …….

I was checking out some posts by other “bloggers” if that’s the write term nowadays. I was amazed by how many seem to have achieved peace and balance in their lives. I seem to never get there. Idle moments are restless. If I screw off most of the day and only do what screams out to be done somehow I feel guilty. I feel guilty for the numerous hours I’ve “wasted” searching for enlightenment here on the internet. The more I learn the more I need to know. I’m over fifty and it amazes me how many younger people seem to have more knowledge and their act together far better than I do. Sure I screwed off in school but that was because everything progressed so slow that most of the time I was waiting for other classmates to get it so we could move on. By graduation I was only doing enough to get a passing grade and spending the rest of my time either making money or spending it. Never at the same speed.

I remember as a young man asking why a lot. I still do. Every answer then and every answer since has only led to more questions. By 22 I’d decided that the answer to the question always began with “because”. Trying to algebraically reduce the problem down to it’s basest terms I came up with “Why is cause”. Removing the punctuation, “Why? Because,” became Why because. Reducing be+cause [be being part of the be group (is, are was, were, be, am)] gives us is+cause, using the third person singular, present indicative of be. That’s if I read my dictionary right. So “Cause is why!” became my rallying cry. The more I know the more it keeps coming back to cause is why. Simple math. Solved.

Cc

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Effigy

I’m just saying
Write it down
I’m just praying
Send it ’round

Skies are greying
Can’t be sound
When their spraying
Makes me frown

I’m just haying
‘Fore it’s brown
‘S no delaying
I have found

Jackass braying
‘Cross the town
War dog slaying
Dirty hound

I’m just laying
On the ground
Dirt that’s staying
Build a mound

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