Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mood swings

It is amazing how many things can affect your mood and outlook within each day. Yesterday it was drizzling until mid afternoon, foggy, high of about 40 and just a dreary day. It was not really a bad day because things went ok but the cattle never look as good soaking wet and it is just kind of depressing when the day is like that. Today the sun was shining brightly when it made its appearance and the temperature rose to 52 and it was a beautiful day here in the Columbia Basin. I would swear that the same calf that weighed 650 pounds yesterday in the rain looked like it weighed 725 standing there in the bright sun today.

Once in awhile a particular event can alter your mood in a positive or negative way. Positive would be a kid with a good report card, negative would be looking at your cell bill and seeing that same kids texting minutes. On Tuesday when the first calf of the season arrived I was not prepared and had no ear tags or other calving time necessities with me. I do not get every calf tagged at birth but I get about 98% of them. I was kicking myself for not being ready and not having a stellar start to the calf tagging season. I did go ahead and make the tag for the calf and got my “calving kit” together last night. The calving kit is a fairly large ice chest filled with tags, tag markers, tag applicators, syringes, needles, BoSe, pulling chains and handles,plastic cups, a bottle of Pendleton whiskey, a deck of cards etc; all the things necessary for a successful calving season. Today as I drove to the spring calving cows I was thinking how that first untagged calf was going to slightly irk me the next three and a half months until branding time.

As I pulled in the gate I loaded the tag in the tagger “just in case”. The calf happened to be lying asleep and stretched out in the sun and I thought maybe if I was lucky I could catch her. The mother to this calf is a purchase my father made about 9 years ago and she has about ¼ Longhorn blood in her. She is not particularly mean but she is a very protective mother and has two sharply pointed “widow maker” horns that she knows how to use. I slowly pulled the pickup between her and the calf. I got a good jump on the calf and caught it and got it held down. As I pulled the BoSe (selenium) syringe from my mouth and inserted it in the calf her Momma was starting around the pickup. I gave the injection and hurried to apply the tag as the cow and her horns closed the gap rapidly. I yelled at my dog to “get her” to buy me a few precious seconds. I have a red heeler (Festus) who is damn tough and has little fear although he is very spoiled. He jumps off the pickup and heads towards the cow trying to save his master from becoming a human shish kabob. Seeing this I am feeling pretty confident and applied the tag and released the calf. I called Festus off and watched the calf run towards her mother. As the calf and Festus passed each other he could just not resist one little snip at the calf. The calf bawled and momma charged Festus and got a bit of horn to his midsection before he made his escape out of the thick corn stalks and jumped back onto the flatbed. He was whimpering a little so I gave him a pat on the head and said, “Good job Nancy boy, now quit your whining.”

Sometimes an object can alter your mood. Today I was working on fixing some five wire fence. Even the wire had an affect on my mood. In one way it made me smile at the nostalgia of working on something that my grandfather had originally built out of wire that I am pretty sure came over on the Mayflower. However each time I stretched the wire just a hair too tight it would break somewhere up the line and my mood and my view of my genetic lineage suffered a bit.

Sometimes something like music can change your mood. I had sliced my pinky finger on some barbwire. I was sucking on my finger, feeling sorry for myself and mentally and verbally whining to myself about my pain level. Then, Shania Twain came on the radio singing “Man I feel like a woman”. Immediately the pain disappeared and I took a quick look around to make sure nobody had seen me sucking on my finger. The only one around was Festus staring at me. His disgusted look said it all and I am pretty sure he spoke, “I saw that Nancy boy, now quit your whining.”

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the muskrat aka Ondatra zibethicus