Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Muffins in the Meadow -- Post 2

What is fear other than a driving force? Our individual fears usually drive us in wrong directions, cause us to make irrational decisions, and keep us in tidy little roles where society can keep tabs on us. There is some good in that, when it keeps us from committing crimes or hurting people in other ways. But when it stifles our potential, it is not only bad for us as individuals, it is bad for our society as a whole. This is because what we have to offer is lost. Such a loss for society is small when viewed from an individual perspective, but when viewed from the greater perspective of the whole, the loss is astounding.
When Val Emmerson brought us our calves late this winter, we put them in a corral of portable panels across the creek in Roddy’s pasture. Maintaining them was quite a chore, since we had to bucket water and haul hay over the snow in a sled; so, after a few days we decided to let them out to roam the pasture so we could start moving them toward the water trough and then to the creek where we could feed them more easily.
They left the area of the little corral in a hurry and after a couple of days they hadn’t come back to eat or drink. One more day without food or water worried us enough that we decided to try to herd them back toward the corral, but as soon as they saw us approaching, they ran over the ridge toward the far corner of the pasture. We walked around the ridge, but when they saw us again, they ran back. Val had been around them a lot, so we thought they would get used to seeing us and calm down after a little while, but this chasing game went on for a few more attempts. Finally, when they were back in the far corner, we decided to split up and quietly sneak our way toward them. Ben headed around the ridge and I went over the top.
We didn’t want them to see us right away, thinking that if they didn’t see us approaching until we were closer, they would go between us and head toward the corral. I slowly crept over the ridge, trying to stay below the sagebrush so they wouldn’t see me. With stealth I made may way through the crunchy snow in silence, crested the hill and peeked between the sagebrush.
Ben was standing beside the fence about thirty feet from the corner, but the cows were not in sight. I looked toward the corral, but they weren’t in that direction. It seemed as if they had vanished.
“Where are they?” I hollered.
Ben pointed toward the corner of the pasture. I looked back at the empty corner.
Ben shouted, “They jumped over the fence!” (Actually, he used a more colorful word than “They”)
“They leaped over it like a pair of deer,” he yelled.
I searched the adjoining pasture and finally spotted them along the opposite fence line.
Now we had to strategize. Part of the fence in that next pasture had been taken out when the land was subdivided a few years ago. If they got across the creek, we would likely never see them again.
Ben devised a plan to cut a hole in the corner of the fence and set out some hay leading up to it. Then we hiked down to the creek to slowly pressure them along the fence to the cut corner. Everything was going along fine until they saw the big chunks of hay. They stopped and stared at the hay, saw us coming closer and then bolted around us back toward the opposite fence line. We headed diagonally toward the creekside corner, but then they started trotting toward the creek to get ahead of us. We stopped and walked back the opposite direction; they stopped, too. We knew if they crossed the creek they’d be gone, so we decided to try herding them one more time and followed the fence on the opposite side of the pasture from where the calves and hiked along he creek. As soon as we got too close for their comfort, they trotted up to that far corner and then made their way toward the cut corner, but as they drew near the chunks of hay, they started to go around the ridge. We worried them away from the creek and back to the cut corner.
This time it worked. We herded them in, repaired the fence and tossed all the hay in to them. So, at least they had some hay. We left them alone that night and the next morning they were hanging out in a low spot we had seen them in several times when the wind blew, so after they wandered back up the ridge, we carried some water to that low spot in the hay sled. Each day after that we hauled them water and hay. Gradually they got a little more used to us, so we slowly led them with hay and water in the sled back to the area beside the little corral.
Not long after the ice melted off the creek, they started drinking there and the grass was growing enough that they wouldn’t eat hay any longer. Then things going pretty well.
At least until one day one of our neighbors visited Roddy and left the gate open. Yep, the cows decided to take a vacation.
Fortunately, Ben saw one of our ranching neighbors at the mailboxes the same day we found out the calves had gone missing. He told Ben two red calves had joined his black herd.
A few days later he rounded them up and hauled them back home.
Now things seem to be going really well . . .

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Since I don’t have pictures of any of our meadow-muffin-makers, I’ll show you some pics of a hike we took last fall with our friend, Nancy. This little cabin is a fantasy spot for Ben and me. It’s just a little way from the trail head.

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One of our favorite peaks.

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The view looking back across the valley.

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This was where we stopped to have lunch.

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Nancy and her dog, Sarah. Ben and I took Nancy on a journey we took to find a small obscure lake. We hiked for miles and couldn’t find it, so we finally started back. After we had gone a few arduous miles back toward the trail head, we looked at the map again, from a new perspective and figured out Frazier lake was the mud puddle we had looked down into on our way up. We wore Nancy to the bone.

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Me and Ben.

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