Saturday, March 6, 2010

Herb and Herb

After the little glitch with the purchase of Lillian the Morphadite, and acknowledging that she/he would not and could not not live up to my expectations for stocking the farm with my very own herd I went shopping again.

Unwilling to put my trust in an organization that hadn't been sharp enough to notice Lillian's little problem, I chose another sale barn and began buying an occasional black Angus or "baldy" heifer whenever I could scrimp out the money. A baldy is a cross between a Black Angus and a White Face Hereford. I built up a herd of eight scrubby looking heifers and rented a bull. Yes, you can rent a bull. A year later I had calves. The bull I rented looked better than the sale barn heifers so the calves were very nice if I do say so. It's all in the genes.

I decided to buy a steer for meat and the disposition of the Holstein breed appealed to me, so one Saturday when two little black and white spotted steers gamboled into the sale ring I bid on them..paid too much.. and brought them home.

The thing you have to remember about sale barn buying is that everything looks smaller from up in the bleachers. In my excitement I had not kept that in mind and when I backed the Ford Ranger with the rattly old cattle-panel cage up to the loading dock the loader looked at me very strangely. The two leggy "calves", so endearingly small in the ring, ambled out and walked calmly onto the swaying truck. They were very tall. They had no trouble seeing over the cab. When they moved the truck bed swayed alarmingly.

"Are you sure about this, Laura?" the guy asked.

"It's not very far. We'll be fine." We were in Gallatin. We had a twenty mile drive more or less on a fourlane highway and eight miles of winding, hilly blacktop road to the farm.

At the sound of my voice two long identical black and white faces turned, as if on the same hinge, to stare at me. It was a little disconcerting. But even with all that size it was baby eyes that looked at me and babies they were. They probably had never been around any women and certainly never asked to ride in such a flimsy vehicle but their's was an attitude of total trust and calm. Obviously they had never been abused and were not frightened and that was a good sign.

We started off. They stood quietly, only occasionally bending their twin heads to peer into the rear window of the pickup. I think they were checking to make sure I was still there. To tell the truth I was terrified. We went very slowly with me praying mightily that they would not get in a tussle or shift too suddenly. I knew that if they tired of looking forward and decided to turn to look out the rear their own momentum would send them over the side.

We attracted a lot of attention. Evidently the sight was so intriguing it inhibited any trend toward road rage from people wanting to get somewhere faster than 30 miles an hour. People drew up beside was a four-lane thank heaven..children pointed and laughed..old men grinned..women stared .. It was a little embarrassing. I waved nonchalantly with my best two-finger farmer wave.

I reached out and tilted the side mirror so I could barely see the side face of the steer right behind me. I swear, he was enjoying the ride.

We made it home alright. I opened the gate to the pen by the barn and backed the truck on in. After the gate was shut I lowered the tail gate and swung the back cattle panel open so they could jump down. They didn't seem to be in much of a hurry to leave their own personal limousine and only came down when I started to walk away. I guess they figured it was no fun without the chauffeur because they finally came down.

They were totally and absolutely identical and I could never tell them apart so I named them Herb and Herb.

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