Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Still Know What To Do, Grandpa

Some weeks ago on the way to work, I crested the first hill going north on Vera Road and found an entire herd of cattle making a break for it through a gate that had been left wide open. One little group was already far down the hill, and one slightly larger group was in the road and moving north. The entire rest of the herd was gathered at the gate ready to make their break.

It was easy enough to herd the cows still in the pasture away from the gate. They slowly ambled away toward the north. The group directly outside the gate was a bit of a problem. As I slowly inched my car between them they moved north, too. Eventually I had parted their little group. I got out of the car then and quietly "shooed" at them. They turned and made their way back into the gate. That left the brave rogues who were already far down the road, enjoying the greener grass.

I was sure one of the Orc's big mining trucks would be coming from the north soon enough, and that would cause the cattle to move back toward me. If I just backed the car up south of the gate, any oncoming car or truck would hopefully pressure the cattle toward me and I could direct them back into the gate. But no traffic was visible. I finally eased the car past the wayward cows. By getting out, I was able to move them back toward the gate. Luckily,they entered the gate instead of continuing on past it. Though I was careful to not scare them or cause them to run, once the stragglers entered the gate, they decided they were in a hurry to join the rest of the herd over the hill to the west, so they loped over the hill. Out of sight. Not a single cow was visible.

I struggled with the barbed wire gate. I was not strong enough to close the gate all the way and could only get one end or the other into the wire loops that hold those wire gates taunt. I at least had the gate across the opening though it would fall down at the first pressure from the cattle. At least none of them were on the road now.

As I was walking back to my car I had left a distance to the north, a truck came hauling toward me. Turns out it was someone coming to make sure that gate was closed. I explained I had moved the cattle back into the pasture but was unable to close the gate. I explained there were about 25 cattle out. When I looked up toward the gate, there was not a single cow in sight. Not one.

I just hope that the guy did not think I was telling a lie, as in "Yeah, that broken-down old woman claimed to have herded 25 cattle back but there were none in sight!" Or that he thought I was exaggerating, like maybe only one or two were out. I was raised around beef cattle and helped herd the gentle beasts many times. As long as you do nothing to scare them, it only takes a little pressure to move them. They can be contrary, and sometimes a cow with a calf will match wills with you, but most often, just as that morning, they all graciously agreed to move back into their pasture at an old woman's bidding. Honest.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


There will most certainly be a last time I post to my Spiritcreek blog - either I will have dropped my earthly robe or I simply will not be interested/able to continue posting. The posts get fewer each year even though I still have plenty to say - I am an opinionated liberal redneck from Kansas, after all. My most loyal and faithful reader, Kit, is gone and sometimes it feels as if I am writing into the void. I can hear him in my mind's ear right now, giving me a hard time. (He was always so bossy!) But today is Thanksgiving, and this morning, through the programmed magic of Facebook, a photo of the foundation of my house appeared as a Memory from four years ago. Here I am today, sitting at my computer looking out the windows opening to the bend of the little creek, just as I had always imagined I would someday do. I paused for a moment to appreciate what is good and right in my world. First, however, there must be bitching and moaning!

On the first day of November I suffered a wound to my leg when a weed stalk ripped a hole in my skin. It certainly hurt but it wasn't until I got back to the house that I realized it required stitches. Aside from childbirth and a bar fight that required 17 stitches in my ear, I have never needed stitches. My stomach was full of butterflies anticipating the medical torture.

The doctor called it a "gruesome wound" - a bit dramatic but it was ugly. Getting stitches was not pleasant, especially since the doctor complained the entire time about people coming in late in the day. She was quick to add an accident like mine was different. I think she must have been under a lot of stress. I missed the good Dr. Keirnan O'Callaghan, the general practitioner I went to my entire adult life. He would never have complained to a patient. I am certain his stitches would have looked a hell of a lot more careful and precise than the Frankenstein attempt of the stressed Med Assist physician. (Good thing I am not overly vain.)

The worst part has been the actual healing. It has been messy and inconvenient and eventually required two days off work. I do not know how people with serious wounds - a gunshot, for instance - ever heal! I have spent $45 in bandage supplies alone. One little weed stalk hidden in the grass at the barn caused all of this. A few days ago, none the wiser, I suffered a puncture wound just inches from the big wound. It did not require stitches but I am still bandaging my leg and waiting for both wounds to fully heal! My body must certainly have passed some aging threshold because I have cut, sliced, scraped, abraded and scratched myself countless times but never sustained damage like this - not even when I wrecked the family Harley in Salina! 

The entire experience made me reflect on the ordeal of people who face major physical healing - combat soldiers for instance. What must they endure? I am grateful mine were minor wounds. I am grateful for truly professional, dedicated doctors like Dr. O'Callaghan. He was a class act I took for granted because I did not know any better. Now I do.

I am grateful for a million and one things - but the point is sometimes you have to bleed into your shoe before you realize how grateful you are for the things you have taken for granted.