A cattle roundup is a fairly simple thing to organize, if you have the manpower and resources and skills available. You set a date, tell your friends, and when the day arrives you usually end up with more help than you need: riders, ropers, sorters, muggers, castraters, branders, cowboys, people who like to play cowboy…it’s almost more of a social get-together than a job, and everyone mostly shows up for the fun.
Of course, if you have just spend the past year of your life starting over almost from scratch, and none of your new friends have ever thrown a rope or castrated a calf — and neither have you — then a cattle roundup becomes not such a simple thing to organize. In fact it becomes A Tad Complicated.
I had offers of help from my friends, and I deeply appreciate that, but how do you catch and hold down a calf without ropers? Well, you can buy a calf table, unless your car happens to suddenly die and require over $900 worth of resuscitation. Yarg. Also, if you understand the process of calf castration but have never actually done it yourself, how do you know for sure that you won’t throw up and/or pass out halfway through the procedure? And, oh yeah, how do you even get your horses to the event if you don’t own a trailer or a truck that will pull one? Then there’s the matter of a corral. You can’t have a cattle roundup without a corral to round them up into, and Steve had taken most of the livestock panels with him, and I couldn’t find anyone with used panels to sell, and new ones cost $140 for a ten or twelve foot section. That would add up to roughly a gazillion dollars, which I didn’t have (see: car repair bill, above).
If I let myself think too much about all this stuff I might have started worrying that it wasn’t going to work out at all, but fretting about that sort of thing is a total waste of energy. All I could do was commend the whole matter into God’s hands and trust that things would happen the way He wanted them to. I was just AWARE of the issues, is all I’m saying.
In mid-May I approached a horse vet who goes to my church, an incredibly nice fellow who had come out and treated my horses in the past. I didn’t really know him socially but I figured as a vet he’d at least be able to give me a hands-on tutorial in calf castration, if he were so inclined. So I asked him, if he were theoretically invited to a roundup, would that be just another day at the office for him or would it be something he’d enjoy? His face lit up, he said he LOVED doing that stuff, and that if I needed any other skilled help he could bring some more friends. I said I could really use a header and a heeler (cow jargon for two different kinds of roping skills), and he said they’d be there and what day was the roundup? I told him I’d hoped to wait until all six calves had been born, but that I might not be able to because the firstborn was getting so big. He said no problem, we could have one roundup now and another one later on and that way we could have twice the fun. Also, as it turned out, he had a pile of spare corral panels that he’d be happy to bring over and set up for the day.
I was SO FREAKING GRATEFUL, but he very graciously acted like I was doing him and his friends the favor of having them out, so I couldn’t even feel awkward about accepting all that help.
A few days later I got a message from the Doc’s secretary: he and his friends would be available to come out on June 6th, and did that work for me? It worked perfectly for me, but most of my other friends couldn’t make it that day. I decided that in this particular case I should probably accommodate the doc, and I’d schedule my next roundup far enough in advance that everyone else who wanted to come could be there.
That only left the matter of getting my horses to the roundup site, then getting them AND a steer back to my place afterward (the steer was coming home for fattening and slaughter). This would require the use of a large stock trailer with a center divider: we could put the horses in the front section and the steer in the back. I mentioned this need to a woman from my church who was helping me through the ridiculously complicated process of filing for divorce, and she immediately picked up the phone, called a friend of hers who lives in my general area, then hung up and announced, “Okay, we’ve got the trailer, now we just need a truck.” She was already dialing a new number; this time she was calling Geoff, the new guitarist in our worship group (I’ve been corrected on the spelling of his name). She basically told him that he and his truck would be hauling some livestock for me on June 6th. He had already promised to come and help with the calves if it was on a day he was free, so I wasn’t too awfully horrified by this casual drafting of resources…just mildly taken aback. But when I saw him the next day at a meeting he’d remembered that he had a previous commitment on the 6th. He said we were welcome to use his truck, he just wouldn’t be available to drive it, and while we were working out the logistics of that the Doc mentioned that HE had just the sort of stock trailer I needed, and I was welcome to use it AND his truck since he would be using other vehicles to get his panels and horses to the roundup.
The grace of God and the goodness of people absolutely blow my mind sometimes.
Next: the big day!