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Life of a ranch wife is always interesting, and often entertaining. The story of the Pied Piper on a White Horse starts out on a beautiful summer day. My husband and I were getting ready to go move heifers from one pasture to another. They were down at our south ranch which is about 10 miles south of the main place.
We use 4-wheelers a lot. We have a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time, so that is usually the mode of transport. On this day, I decided I’d like to take my horse instead. We weren’t on a big time crunch, so why not?
So we loaded up the trailer. One 4-legged horse and one 4-wheeled horse. Off we went down the bumpy county road, down the highway and pulled into the pasture. I unloaded my horse and mounted up. My husband took off on his 4-wheeler to scout out the heifers and to start rounding them up.
I came trailing along behind. I caught up to them and decided to stay a little further back than usual. You see, heifers are half crazy. They are stuck between being a calf and being a cow, and their curiosity can sometimes get the better of them. The opposite reaction they have is to run scared. This is what I was afraid they’d do when the first heifers saw me.
My trusty steed was my paint horse that I got when she was a baby and I was 9. We’ve been together for a long time. She is mostly white, and I’m not sure the heifers knew what to think of her. The first few that saw us spooked and took off running, thus why I really trailed behind.
Our game plan was to push the heifers from one pasture through a second pasture and into the third. The tricky part is that there was a group of cows with calves in the middle pasture. My husband had gone ahead to open gates and make sure the older cows weren’t by the windmill, which is exactly where we were going. The gate into pasture number 3 was just over the hill from the windmill.
We were in the clear. The cows were nowhere in sight and we had the green light. Or so we thought…
We pushed the heifers into the second pasture and proceeded to the windmill. This is where chaos ensued. This is the part that makes me wish I wasn’t riding a white horse.
The great mix up
Remember, I’m trailing far behind. I crest the final hill following the lazy heifers in the back. I come just in time to see the herd of cows filtering over the opposite hills towards the windmill. Bad timing cows. Very. Bad. Timing.
All of the sudden there was a lot of yelling coming from the man on the 4-wheeler. I could see waving arms, but could not decipher what he was saying. I nudged my horse faster and figured out that he wanted me down there to keep everyone from getting mixed up. Oh, things just were going to get so much worse.
Curious heifers and a white horse is not a good combo. My task was to get down there as fast as my horse could go and help push the heifers faster up over the hill into gate #3.
The Pied Piper
Who could have known that when the bulk of the heifers saw me they decided I was way more interesting than the windmill. Instead of moving away from me, they all ran towards me. At this point I’m pretty sure my husband wished he had come alone.
He then proceeded to use rancher sign language (usually involved arms waving in big circles and pointing in two different directions) to tell me to get through the heifers and see if they’d FOLLOW me up over the hill. The pied piper on a white horse.
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It worked for about 5 of the heifers. The other 40 decided that the other cows looked more fun and they’d like to mingle. Oh man.
I tried one more time to go help my poor husband who was tearing around on the 4-wheeler trying his hardest to keep them separate. Bad idea. The heifers were losing their minds and the horse wasn’t helping.
My horse and I were eventually banished from sight. The best thing for us to do was hide. Yes, hide over the hill by good ol’ pasture number 3.
All I could do was listen and wait…I counted the heifers as one by one they slowly trickled by us as my husband sorted them out of the cows.
My husband did a great job, solo, as I sat and waited. When the last heifer came through the gate, I was allowed back over the hill. My horse and I took our time making it back to the trailer while my husband went to check the other windmill.
We all made it back to the trailer, but it was a day I’d not soon forget!
These are the parts of ranch life where you certainly do not laugh at the time, but give it 6 months and you might chuckle, a year and you might laugh and tell your friends, four years and you write about it on your blog for others to laugh with you.
Moral of the story? Heifers are crazy and ‘Rancher sign’ is very special language that I’m not sure I’ll ever become fluent in. Some days are tougher than others, especially when I’m the Pied Piper on a white horse, but when we look back it was all part of the experience.
Till next time,