A famous quote, probably more famous than Grandpa’s, “Never buy a horse from a guy that sits in the front pew at church” was Winston Churchill’s, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Evidently, Winston did not know Shirley.
The Thanksgiving cow sales are over! The sales that men go to while Mom goes shopping on Black Friday. It’s this time of the year that neighbors start meeting at cow sales. Buying a few cows to replace the “opens.” Replacing some of those old girls that aren’t producing the kind of calf she should. Trying to cull the herd down a little to stretch the feed out. And that reminded me of “Friendly.”
If you’re citified, you might think that a cow is a cow. That they are not like dogs and cats and kids and goldfish and hamsters and stuff. But that is wrong. Some people do become attached to certain cows. I know you are thinking that is not normal. I agree. But Shirley became attached to Friendly.
Friendly was one of the ugliest cows on the ranch. A big old Hereford cow with short ears. But she loved cake. Now, cake is a protein supplement that comes in cubes. And Shirley always carried a few pieces of cake in her pocket. Friendly learned that when she saw Shirley, treats were to be had. Friendly would come at a fast cow walk right out of the herd and beller at Shirley. She would reach that long, rough tongue out and eat all the cake Shirley would offer. Shirley became convinced that Friendly liked her. It was upsetting if I told her the cow just liked cake.
Over the years Shirley got that cow so gentle she could crawl up and set on her! Some men dream of marrying a cowgirl wearing sequined outfits and riding a beautiful horse. I married a woman wearing Carharts and riding a cow!
As Friendly advanced in age, her calf got smaller. So we had to help it along with a bottle. Not cause Friendly was short of feed. Cause she was short of teeth. For four years, we kept Friendly around and bottle-fed her calf. Not profitable, but cheaper than a divorce.
Then one fall, Friendly came up open. Not pregnant. And we (I) decided to sell her. And like a big, tough guy that knows who is the boss on this outfit, I did it on the sly. Under the cover of darkness I hauled that cow to Dickinson for the cow sale.
Just by coincidence, that day Shirley went down to Dickinson to visit her sister. And together they decided to go over to the sale yard for lunch. Maybe there would be a horse sale. Who knows? They like horse sales like normal people like whiskey and pinochle.
And here comes Friendly through the ring while Shirley and Rose are setting there! I lost all respect for cow buyers when no one dared bid on Shirley’s cow after her outburst. You talk about cowards.
That afternoon I had to drive to Dickinson to pick up a fourteen-year-old dry cow. Friendly lived out her life on the ranch. And her picture hangs on the fridge by our grandkids! That is one fine cow.
So, when you’re culling those cows, be careful. You can’t always go by what the county agent says.