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We’ve been raising prime Angus cattle at the farm.

Poppy our big fat headed bull has done a good job of building up our herd. Everything’s been pregnant for the last two years, repeatedly. It’s time to reap the benefits of haying, overwintering, innoculating, and fencing.

We put an add on Craig’s list.

Now my previous Craig’s list adventures have been less than stellar. I sold a Thule cartop carrier a few years back and the surfer dude, way too old to still be thinking he was that, got out of his car, his pants fell down, his manly parts exposed. An adherent to the going commando school of thought or else he forgot where he put his underwear, he did manage to hitch them up enough to find the 100 dollar bill he had stashed in the pocket. And then there was the attempt to sell a 40 foot hotshot trailer. That particular self identified Christian buyer managed to take the trailer without ever paying anything. We got the trailer back, worse for the wear, a year later, once he needed to give back the broken down cattle trailer he had left us for collateral. He was properly indignant when I accused him of stealing.

So I had me some trepidation when Matt called. He wanted one of our heifers and he had a Texas drawl that can mean either he is a real cowboy, in which case he will have some integrity, or he isn’t which leaves the door wide open to what he might try to get away with. Within 3 days we had his check from the mail.

A series of failed meetings followed because he’d had to work and it took him three weeks to come get what he’d paid for. He pulled up to the farm yesterday in a dually with his cattle trailer. I met him as he cornered the gate.

“Hi.” He said, his eyes warm despite the fact that I have no recollection of what color they were. “This is my fiance, Lisa. And my little sister’s in the back. She’s conked out. We took her to Brenham to the corn festival.” A little nine year old stuck her head up from the back seat of the crew cab.

“I hope your good with that trailer. You have an obstacle course to get through to get to the coral,” I told him.

“I’ll do my best,” he says. Humility is interesting when it’s mixed with the confidence to try, I think to myself.

On my way back to where my own cowboys have guided Matt through the maze of ditches and pvc pipe of the new well we’ve been installing, I see the heifer in the corral, eyes wide with fear, her ear tag identifying her. She’s 5711. Matt picked her out of the herd we advertised because he liked her blood line. He had heard about her mother and grandmother before her.

The word comes back to me, Matt’s fiance wants to know if I’ve already named her because she has one picked out if I haven’t. I say I don’t name them. They are surprised but this is a good thing for them. Where they are in life, they can’t imagine me not wanting to name her, to get personal with her, but they’re glad they can. Where I am in my stage of life, that’s the last thing I’m bound to do.

“Is she gentle?” Matt asks. I don’t answer that.

As they drive off, the panic in 5711 as she tried to keep her footing in a bouncing trailer, is evident. She moos one time at the heard. Her mother, 255, never looks up from the last fall grass she is munching. I suspect she no longer has any recognition of her daughter, she’s had another since that one’s birth and another is growing in her belly.

I go back to weeding my garden. I heard Matt say they would take good care of 5711. They planned to handfeed her every day. Something about that makes me smile as I pull the last of the okra plants up, now 8 feet tall.

Let them name her, I think to myself, let 5711 have the life no cow has the right expect, although I expect she expects very little. I believe in the hardworking, optimism of youth. It’s a grand plan and one the Matt’s and Lisa’s and all the little sister’s of the world have every right in the world to expect.

The blue sky looks a little bluer on this day and although I know its no different than the days when I perceive it’s grayness, a prayer of thanksgiving for the plan of youth and the cycles of live lifts out of my heart and floats to Heaven.

Have a good cow life, 5711… or whatever your name is.

Sadder stories about cows, but with endings that make you wiser:
A bad day followed by a good day.

One wasted life and one not