Posts Tagged: western
Yesterday I hinted about a Showdown Of the Sandhills.
I warn you this post could be disturbing to the weak hearted who believe I have a kind and gentle soul. I usually try to maintain a kind and gentle soul. It seems like the easy way to live. But when I feel something is morally wrong or I think the weak are being preyed upon, I can not help myself but to get involved.
Actually this morning I did not want to get involved. This was a morning where I was planning on doing some serious sleeping in, like until noon. Just the day before I had driven home on icy roads from Cheyenne, Wyoming all the way to the Sandhills of Nebraska. So I was tired. I was looking forward to tucking into my childhood room. The room that had been my cozy little nook since I was a baby. Sleeping at my moms house is like catching up on a years worth of sleep in one night. My Mom’s house is very quiet. There is one little two lane highway with hardly any traffic. It is also amazingly dark (no street lights, neighbors yards lights, or big city glares). Finally I also probably sleep so soundly because my family is exhausting too, but don’t tell anyone I said that little detail.
So at about daybreak(give or take 2hours), give me a break! I don’t think you are required to know when daybreak is when you are on vacation! I heard my Mom come running in the house screaming “Get up, Holly hurry, HELP!” Now in a normal situation this would make people jump out of bed. But this is not a normal situation. My mother is, well, she is exhausting. She is a constant ball of energy and she has cried “wolf” many times before. My brother and I fell for the same April fools trick every year for about 18 years. Each year on April fools my mother would run in the house screaming, “GET UP! HURRY! HURRY! HELP!!! Your horses are on the highway! They must have (this is where she would get creative) gotten the gate open, rubbed the fence down, someone ran through the fence, etc., etc.” This would spring my brother and I out of bed quicker than a flea after a coyote hound. Speaking of coyote hounds, oh wait, there I go again, getting ahead of myself. So anyway Brady and I would throw on boots over our pajamas and run out in a panic. We were big competitors in high school rodeo. We didn’t have alot of money so we usually had one good horse a piece. So it was a really big deal if one horse would get hurt. Heaven forbid we would have to share a horse. That just causes challenges for siblings. So as we were running down the driveway scared to death, we would slow our pace… “What day is it? Are you kidding? You said you weren’t going to fall for this anymore! NO YOU SAID you weren’t going to fall for this!!” Then my brother and I would get in a fist fight in the middle of the driveway. Because that is what we did. By the time we got done boxing and sulked back in the house my mother would have the kleenex out drying her eyes. She always laughs so hard she cries. Then when she goes to recap us running out of the house she would get choked up halfway through and fall into another fit of crying laughter. Trust me, it is a very annoying way to begin your day.
So as I heard her screaming I rolled over to put a pillow over my head. But as I turned, I then caught a glimpse of something outside my window. It was white, humm that is snow. Close my eyes, block out her screaming. Snow in April? Close my eyes, block out her screaming. Wait a minute I can hear her coming to my room, it’s not April, it’s December. She is in my room frantically dialing phone numbers. She is throwing me a phone book telling me to look up numbers. I can’t understand anything she is saying. At this point I yawn and push back the covers. Then she shoves back in the room carrying a shotgun. Suddenly I snap into being fully awake, “WHOA Georgia(that’s what I call my mom when I am serious, annoyed or amused. It is her name and I was all of these things at this moment.) What is going on??”
She tells me about a 3 week history on a mangy coyote in about 30 seconds. A coyote had been preying on the neighborhood causing all sorts of havoc and fear. The neighbors border collie pup had already been plucked off. And mom’s guineas had been disappearing like comedy shows on NBC. As mom is explaining all this I throw on my clothes and she frantically calls our neighbors and my brother. She is wailing about her guineas being mutilated by a coyote as we speak. Well the closest neighbor is within a mile, but he is 5 miles from the house feeding cows and would have to go home and get his gun and then come to moms. My brother is on his way with his gun and coyote hound but it takes him at least 15 minutes to get here.
Finally I am dressed and ask mom again as I put my coat on, “Why didn’t the coyote run away?”
Oh she explains with fervor, “he is not a typical coyote. He is mangy and crazy and doesn’t run away AND I locked him in the chicken house!”
Me wondering how I ever grew up in this choas scream, “GEORGIA, You did WHAT!?! Where is the gun? I can’t believe you locked a coyote in your chicken house! I then get on the phone with my brother and listen through scratchy cell phone service about how the gun can sometimes jam as it ejects a round. So after the 5 second pep talk I didn’t understand I strutted out the door to save the day. As mom was screaming “Hurry, my guineas are dying!” I casually called over my shoulder “Bring the camera, this is prime time blog material.”
I got the full story later over breakfast when she calmed down and all was said and done. Mom went out to take water to her guineas. When she approached the chicken house she heard a big ruckus and knew it was the coyote so she slide the small little chicken house door shut so he couldn’t get out.
Umm mom, pictures later and be quiet!
It was dark as I peered in, my eyes adjusted to the darkness as I searched for the
Terrorist of the Sandhills.
Then I caught two eyes in the corned of this picture. He was jumping up onto the railing where the remaining guineas were perched. He was aggressive and Mom was right. He was very mangy, he had bald patches all over his body. When he got sight of me, he ran right towards me and keep running in a big circle around and around that little chicken house. Mom and I both screamed, slammed the door shut, and jumped back.
This time as the coyote ran by he jumped up on the rail opposite the door. He was lunging at those guineas. Now this was just greedy, he already had dead birds strung high and low all across that chicken house. I pushed the screen door open and took a shot. I connected on the first shot. As he fell from the rails I took another step inside, the coyote struggled up and ran towards me. My Mom had already shut the screen door. MOM ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? She hollers back, “just shoot him again!”
Then she took this picture,It’s really a great shot mom! The coyote ran past me this time and jumped up on a wooden grain bin in the corner, right next to the door. He hunkered down in that corner, as I raised my gun to fire a second round… And thought to myself will bullets ricochet off of tin siding? What did Brady mean by the gun jamming? If a gun jams, what happens? Does the gun blow up in your face? How did I ever grow up in this chaos? What if I shoot my mom?
WHAT, What if I shoot my Mom?
I noticed my Mom standing about foot away from the coyote. She was in the doorway with her camera ready. “GEORGIA, get away from the door! You have way to much faith in me, what if I shoot you. Back up about 30 feet would ya?”
And this is the end of the coyote who was billed a killer. As I stood over him, I handed my mom the gun and quoted Tombstone, “You aren’t no Daisy, and my hypocrisy only goes so far!” (Check my post yesterday for the video clip)
I explained to Mom that I had just yelled at husband the day before for leaving a gun out. I really don’t like guns. Then Mom asked when the last time I shot a gun was, Well I think it was with my Grandpa when I was probably 7 or 8. My Grandpa was a firm believer in the fact that you didn’t have to like guns but everyone needs to know how to shoot one. Grandpa took me to an old junk pile in the middle of a pasture on the ranch he managed. He obviously gave me a good lesson. We spent the afternoons shooting old cans and making sure I could one day defend the neighborhood.
As I walked back the the house with frozen fingers, I think it was like -10 that morning. My brother pulled in with his coyote hound, Boots. The hound that by the way we call Bootsy Wootsie who really likes to cuddle. The dog doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, he is scared of his own shadow. But he still looks like a champion so don’t tell anyone!
So that my friends is the tale of “The Showdown Of the Sandhills”. I may or may not have had to take a few more shots than two, but I’ll never tell. My husband now refers to me as Calamity Jane. I swear my family saves up the ranchy stuff for when I come home. They are bound and determined to not let this city girl forget where she came from. I think they are worried the 8-5 office gig in the city will make me soft. Finally if you want more information on coyotes in Nebraska, click here. And if you are wondering what a guinea is click here. My mom loves Guineas, they kill rattlesnakes and eat bugs. She went from 21 to 7 overnight. So this next year will be a rebuilding year on her guinea herd. Hopefully peace is restore to the chicken house.
And that my friends is the rest of the story.
This last weekend I had to go back home.
Back to where I grew up for the first 18 years of my life.
Back to where everything moves just a little bit slower.
Back to where there is no high speed internet, no cell phone service and no starbucks.
But back to where you don’t need any of the previously mentioned distractions.
Every time I roll back through the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska, I wonder why I ever leave. It is so beautiful in the Spring time. The hills are a bright shade of green. The sky is the bluest of blues. And the countryside is alive with baby calves. Spirits and attitudes are relieved and light hearted; Finally after weeks and weeks of calving, blizzards and feeding in solitude the ranchers get a chance to see there neighbors and socialize… It’s branding season in the Sandhills.
Here we go…
Then part of the cowboys and cowgirls hold the herd in the corral while some of the momma cows are sorted out of the corral and pushed back out into the pasture.
Then my uncle pulls in his flatbed. This holds all the branding irons, extra medicines, the nut bucket(umm I am not going to go into further detail here), and other supplies.
During calving season calves have ear tags placed in their ears, this is done as soon as they are born. The color of the ear tag identifies whose calf it is and the number on the tag matches the number of the momma cow. This way if a mom and baby are ever split up they are easier to match back up. My unlce Jeff is red, Uncle Dan is orange, Brady is white and I have purple of course!
The bulls are castrated and also get an implant. Then all the calves also receive a vaccine. I timed the process. From the time the calf is roped until the calf is turned lose is usually less than two minutes. Everyone works really hard to keep things moving as quickly as possible to keep the stress to the animal at a minimum.
Now my favorite part, DINNER! Oh and by the way, the whole time we have been out messing around playing cowboy and having fun, my mother has been slaving in the kitchen. This is a big meal to serve. She made prime rib, cheesy hash browns, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, macaroni salad, a ham, rolls, etc. etc. Oh and of course, she brought her specialty..fresh peach pie!