March 29, 2019
If you are in any agriculture business, you have been engrossed following the devastation from the storm 10 days ago. From south central North Dakota, on through South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri, the losses have been devastating.
The worst has to be in Nebraska. Dams broke, bridges washed out, roads wiped out, fences gone, stored grains lost, and to me, the livestock losses had to be devastating. So far, I think they say three people lost their lives in the floods. Heartbreaking.
I was thinking about those people yesterday. We were working a bunch of yearling cattle. If you’ve been around any farms and ranches the past week, you notice it is a muddy mess. You wear your mud boots, and some coveralls you can leave outside in the driveway before you go in the house. Mud is halfway up to your knees and when a calf runs by, the splash is generally a big one.
Shirley was helping. She didn’t want to do the tagging or the vaccinating, so the only job left was pushing 800-pound yearlings up the alley and into the chute. She’s good at that job. Shirley knows the fastest way to work cattle is slowly. She understands that it’s quicker to make more trips than to crowd too many cattle into the tub at the working chute.
The problem was that I gave her a sorting stick to boost them along that was broke in half. So it was short. I mean real short. I guess I didn’t realize that if you had just healed up from knee replacement, you naturally don’t want to get kicked in the knee. And with a short stick, this is a distinct possibility.
Now it is often said that the truest test to a marriage is for a husband and wife to work cattle together. You have to learn to interpret what your partner is saying.
Like when a calf is coming down the alley, and you holler “bad eye.” And she figures you said “goes by.” And actually it should have gone in. Or if a wild one comes down the alley, don’t wait until it knocks her down in the mud before you holler “heads up,” and she thinks, “hold her up.”
I remember years ago, when Shirley had good knees. She had gone into a pen to give a bull some grain and I didn’t have a chance to warn her. That big old bull took a run at her and she showed the speed and grace that the Murphy family was famous for.
She took a few big steps, jumped for the fence, and nearly made it over. Nearly. That big old black bull was there in an instant. But give that bull credit, he realized who feeds him. He got his head a few inches from Shirley’s backside, and stopped, bellering and blowing snot all over her Carhart coveralls. I shouldn’t have laughed. It was lonely sleeping in the shop for a couple weeks.
And yesterday, as Shirley was bringing up a couple yearlings, when she slipped and fell in about a foot of used hay, I shouldn’t have laughed.
I’m glad we have heat in the shop.
But as I told Shirley, our mud is nothing compared to our southern neighbors.