Saturday, August 22, 2020

Midnight in the garden of dust and discovery


When my phone vibrated the ID was "Mom."

"Hello," I said.

The phone replied, "This is Deputy (insert alias) of the Sheriff's Department..."

Oh fuck, I thought in that instant. Perhaps you can imagine.

"Your Mom just handed me her phone..."

Thank God, I thought.

"There's a cow out in the stubble west of your pasture. She was up on the road when I got here..."

Thank you Father, I thought. I also thought "good man" regarding Deputy Alias. He passed on solid, useful information in language just right for the situation.

"Yes," I replied. Thoughts were spinning through my mind. I had good reason not to want to leave. Kids and family to consider. Other stuff to consider. Obligation and duty and honor.

"I was wondering if you could maybe come out and put her in."

"Yes," I replied.

"Okay, thanks," he said.

"Yes," I replied.


The air was smokey, close, dense, warm. As I drove through town toward Highway 71 and thence the ranch I continued to be disturbed as I'd been all day. Irritated, grumpy, out of sorts. Pure, textbook selfishness. It had a strong hold.

I prayed as I drove and it helped as it always does. The selfish me put up a strong battle. What is it about selfish me that so relishes being angry and feeling awful? Don't know, probably never will. It's just part of the complex mishmash of stuff that makes up Shaun.

Hold on as it might, selfish Shaun was losing the fight. The warm, dense, smokey air wafted through the windows and the soothing and familiar feel of the night enveloped me in a close embrace.

"Ride with me Sweetheart. I need you."

She was there.

I felt bad and guilty. The day had been so very long and stressful and I'd hardly thought of her at all. Just the kids and family and navigating the treacherous rocks and shoals of the moment. Moment after moment after moment through an endless day.

"It wasn't a completely yucky day." That thought, certainly not from selfish Shaun and perhaps even externally generated, echoed around the empty cavern of my brain housing group. I smiled. Little ones. Big one coming home from school with a huge smile and news of a day he relished. Shared support, smiles and jokes and laughter, each of us fighting our own selfish demons, fighting through the hurt and anger and irritation.

Fuck no, not yucky. Hard, but not yucky. Hard, but beautiful.

I smiled.


Out in the country the night was dark as the inside of a cow. Heh-heh. That comes not from me, but from naval aviation. Smile. Thanks to Deputy Alias I knew where to go and I easily found the cow. She was north of the county road in a stubble field. She was owly and agitated.

To get her back in I needed to pull staples from a post, push the four barbed wire strands down and nail them low on the post, thereby creating a place where she could step across.

I also needed to keep the situation as low-stress as possible for the cow. She was out looking for her baby, which having been weaned two days previously was not anywhere she could find. But she didn't know that. Then in the midst of her search she'd been bothered by Deputy Alias and his noisy, flashy, unfamiliar patrol pickup. So she'd run away into the stubble field. Her urge was to rejoin the herd, but she was on the wrong side of the fence. And that's why I lowered wires, so she could get back to where she wanted and needed to be.

Before I lowered the wires, in fact just as soon as I espied the cow and triangulated our location, my plan had been to drive her farther north to a place with a gate. Easier for me to open a gate than to fumble with staples and wires in the dark of night. But before I could initiate my brute force plan a calming and more sane thought came to me. The cow is already agitated. Slow down. Be calm. Think of the cow, whose wellbeing is your responsibility. Lower the wires. Do it right.

I doused headlights, got out, and began to pull staples by feel in the darkness of the night. The wires and staples were on the east side of the post, I was on the west. No problem, just a slight challenge. Just reach through the wires. Just do it right.

Staples out, I stepped the wire down and prepared to essay the tricky task of nailing them in place low down, nearly at ground level, where the cow could easily step across them. I would then gently coax her to the right location, using all my low-stress cattle handling skills. She would cross back into the pasture and we'd be done.

But as I stepped the wires down and prepared to nail them in place the cow approached, looked at me, snuffled me and snuffled the low wires, then stepped across into the pasture.

Two things occurred to me. Firstly, it was completely out of character for me to abandon my initial plan of driving the cow a few hundred yards and through a gate. Perfectly good and workable plan and in many ways easier for me. But I chose a different approach, one that placed a bit more emphasis on treating the cow as a living creature to be assisted rather than as a problem to be solved. I placed less emphasis on my own ease and comfort. That's just slightly (completely!) out of character for me.

The second thing was this. It felt very much like Allie was there to help both of us, cow and rancher. How had the cow gone from agitated to calm? I have been doing this stuff for decades and I've never seen such a thing happen. I felt pleased and surprised and happy and reassured, and I felt very strongly that Allie was helping me and helping the cow. Such an Allie thing to do.

Got no idea how this "contact with the departed" stuff works or could possibly work. I know intellectually that it could simply be my hurting brain and soul telling soothing stories. Doesn't feel like that though.

There's a difference between faith and knowledge. I have faith in God and I have faith that Allie walks with me.


This morning.




Life, livin'...

I exercised. Shot some videos. They sucked. Good workout.

Now it's time to get back to stuff.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


  1. Story for you. Two of our employees were in an accident driving home and stuck at home. I drove their pay checks out to them. While there, they got the dreaded call, "Your cows are out". I saddled one of their horses and got the cows back where they belonged. After putting the horse back in his stall, they started commenting, unfavorably, on my horsemanship. I put an end to that with, "Let me ask YOU a question. Are your &*&^% cows in?"

    Point. It may not always be pretty or easy, but you are getting the job done.

    1. That's a great story! :-)

      Getting the job done and being able to get the job done is a good feeling and a good thing. Especially in the face of unanticipated adversity. One of the joys of livin'.

      Thanks WSF!

  2. Good job with the stray.

    We know your heart will continue to hurt for a long time. But, how is the back doing since you got the injections, now that you have had some time to get used to it?

    1. IThanks John. In reality it's a wonder that a person can go out into the country in the dark of night, find a black cow, and get her in. Nothing special about me, anyone could do it if equipped with similar knowledge and experience. And to gain those things you just have to get stuck in and do it.

      I'll write a bit about my back today.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. i am probably in the minority here... to agree with the very unscientific opinion that Allie was there helping you with the cow ...just because science has not reached the point to be able to scientifically explain "contact with the departed" doesn't mean it can't happen, but most Christian believers would tell you many different versions and reasons why you should not be doing so! I would guess that Allie has had prior experience working with cows, right? From my researching of the topic, animals often are able to see the departed. (did you ever have a dog or a cat acting like there was something there that you could not see?) And hey, you didn't even have to staple the wires down low, and then re-staple them up high, right? Which sounds like that worked out easier than driving the cow over to the gate?

    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

    1. and as for fumbling in the dark, have you ever considered one of those LED headlamps?

    2. Big tangle of concepts, hopes, dreams, suppositions, faith, beliefs, experiences wrapped up in such things. I guess for me I'm completely satisfied with where I am on that stuff, and as far as others go, such things are their own territory to explore.

      Allie was the most natural cowgirl I ever met, yet she worked with cattle but a single time. Here'd where you can find my post on that.

      As for lights in the dark, I'm pretty comfortable with the dark and lights are a two-edged sword. Once night adapted my vision is extremely good and light wrecks that in many ways.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting cT!

  4. You do what you can. The cow knew you (and her). You stayed calm and she read that.

    1. Yep, cows can really read people. It's pretty cool.