I am a grandma, but I sure don't think I'm old! I've lived on a ranch for over 40 years, but I sure don't think I'm a cowgirl. I do, however, think I am somewhat good at creative problem solving...
Case in point: How does a grandma, who is not a cowgirl, get a large calf out of a water tank by herself?
It all started one beautiful summer evening, after working all day at the office, I come home, change clothes and I was going to say, 'jump on my 4-wheeler," but as I mentioned, I am a grandma, albeit not an "old" one, so I probably more 'crawl' onto my 4-wheeler Since I am not 'old,' I stick my earbuds in my ears, tune to my latest audio book on my phone, shove my phone into my bra, put my sun visor on, grab my sunglasses and a Budlight and away I go to check the pastures!
Oh my, what a delight after a day in the office! My assigned chore for this evening is counting the bulls, making sure they are ok and on task, and checking the water tanks to make sure the cattle all have enough to drink. Driving through the pasture, all seems right in the world, until at the furthest water tank....trouble! A large calf has somehow managed to fall into and get trapped in the water tank. His mother is standing there , calling frantically for him to get out and he is trying to somehow get out, but keeps slipping and falling back into the water. He is sopping wet, shivering and a bawling mess! Who knows how long he has been trying to get out!
"Ohhhhh Craaaap!," I mutter out loud to myself This is not good! The calf won't survive long and who knows how long he has already been in the tank! The water tank has three heave bridge planks in a triangular shape nailed to posts, supposedly to keep just this event from happening, but occasionally it still happens, and when it does it also serves to keep them from getting back out. So, I optimistically think, "Get a hammer, pull out the nails. Move the boards and the calf will jump out."
I head my 4-wheeler back for the two-mile ride to our place, all the way back, I remember another time there was a calf in the water tank, and it involved helping my husband, and it was dark out, and we had to use the tractor and chains, and it seemed, a large vocabulary of curse words. Not wanting to re-live that wonderful memory, I accelerated the 4-wheeler and started making a list in my head of what would be needed for the task....a hammer, for sure, maybe a rope, yes, a rope, in case I could put a rope over his head and pull him out with my 4-wheeler. Oops, I am enough of a not-a-cowgirl to know that feat would be harder for a grandma-not-a-cowgirl, than it sounds, so maybe more thought should go into the process,
The rope and hammer were quickly found and I headed back out to the pasture, as the sun was moving westward, verily quickly. The vision of 'husband, night, tractor, chains, and swear words,' sped me onward. Of course, when I got back, everything was as before, only the cow was even more desperate, and the calf was looking even more pitiful and hopeless. Grabbing my hammer, I started working on the nails in the boards. After huffing, puffing, sweating and swearing a little myself, I discovered that they were brand new boards with brand new, like TWELVE INCH nails, in them. Needless to say, my hammer wasn't much good. At that point, a call to husband was in order in case he was closer to home than I thought He wasn't and he informed me that a a hammer wouldn't work and that I probably should wait for him to get home, but he was a couple of hours away. "Dark, tractor, chains, curse words!" Back on the 4-wheeler and back to the ranch, I flew, even faster this time,
"Crow bar! That's what is needed! And maybe one of those paddles they use for sorting cattle..." I think, speeding toward home, I rush into the shop, locate the crow bar, head to the barn to get the paddle, and passing our dog house, for some reason, I noticed the dog's bedding hanging out of the door, slam on the brakes and decide to grab all the dog's bedding as well.
Getting those long nails out of those heavy boards, was probably the hardest part of my task, but after much more sweating and a few, actually quite a few, curse words of my own, I got one end of one board loose and managed to swivel it out, so there was an open place for the calf to jump out. I actually thought that when I got it opened up, he would just jump out, after all, he must have just jumped it!
Not so much....the cow was still begging him to come out, but he was just wallowing around in the water and bleating. "Well, I guess he needs a little encouragement," I thought. So I began telling him what to do in a loud voice, which resulted in him becoming even more excited and slipping and falling down over and over again into the water and it scared the cow away as well This was not going well. At the rate I was going, I would have him drowned soon..
That was when some of my early, limited cowgirl graining came back to mind. I remembered my son, when he was quite young, saying, "Mom, you just need to think like a cow!" Now, that is harder that it sounds, but by the time I became a grandma, I had had some practice, so again thinking,, "Husband, tractor, chains, dark, curse words, think like a cow, but DO NOT think like a man....."I began encouraging the calf with renewed vigor.
Letting the cow calm down, I placed the dog bedding in the water tank and up over the open side, waited for her to come back to the tank and up to the calf, lick him and whisper lovingly in his ear, (oops, thinking like a grandma again!) Picking up the cattle paddle, I climbed up on the side of the water tank, behind the opening and the calf, and proceeded to whack the calf on his posterior with the cattle paddle and give my best war whoops!
I am sure I looked like I had completely lost my mind, but it worked! Mom was right there, bellering encouragement, and this crazy woman had gone berserk and was making awful noises and whacking him with a paddle. It was time to make the supreme effort! The dog bedding gave the calf some needed traction, and out he jumped! Hallelujah! I was the happiest, not old, not a cowgirl, grandma, you ever saw!
Picking up my tools, I called my husband to brag about what I had done, suggested that he owed me a supper and headed for home!