I have said that more times than I can count. It’s a running joke with our friends and family. Two hours later, we show up sweaty and dirty in our “town” clothes (i.e. our good clothes that started the day off without grass stains and holes). Now they have some tears and stains.
I didn’t grow up on a ranch or in agriculture or even in Oklahoma. Our family is the first generation of ranchers, which comes with its own learning curve. And we choose this lifestyle. It’s been a transition for sure, but one I wouldn’t change for the world.
Sometimes the cows get out of their paddock and get in the yard, which isn’t a huge deal, or the sheep escape. It’s more of an annoyance than an emergent situation, but still they need tending. I am glad our friends and family can giggle along with us when brunch turns into a late lunch and we show up disheveled!
One rainy morning this past spring, the cows got out. Like out. Like they might have been abducted. They were nowhere to be seen. Just broken fences and lots and lots of rain coming, so tracking was nearly impossible. Imagine if your savings account ran away. The panic and pure fear were awful! We checked cameras and it looked as if they were being chased by a predator most of the night, and finally broke out of a weak spot in the fence and didn’t stop running.
I got to know a bunch of new neighbors by knocking on doors and saying “Have you seen our cows?” Two neighbor ladies called other neighbors, then gave me phone numbers of more neighbors. It was like the church lady phone tree was activated and everyone in our little town knew about my missing cows. They went over the natural boundaries of our area that would keep our cattle locked in a certain area, unable to physically leave. That helped narrow the search.
After almost 12 hours of no cows, my husband and son located them on an adjacent property roughly 1.8 miles away in thick timber. My 9-year-old and my husband led those cows home by calling and shaking the treat bucket in our side-by-side buggy. Our dear friend came over to help get them secured for the night. Everyone made it home – even the little week-old calf. It was nothing short of a miracle.
During those 12 hours I called all my cow-y mom friends and sobbed. They couldn’t bring horses to help search because it was too dangerous in the rain. They helped me research cattle recovery and people with dogs. They listened to me cry. They were as excited as I was when everyone was home safe.
I am grateful for the grace extended when I am late or don’t show up because of cow problems. Especially from my non “ranch-y” friends. I’m grateful for neighbors that will help wrangle flighty sheep, after working a 12 hour shift and help me find our lost cows.
It might be a wild ride, but this community can’t be beat.