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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