Once a year the cattle farmers of Apache pool their resources and get together to wrassle calves (or something like that).
I was pulled in to the gathering and probably closely watched to see if this boy from Africa knew anything about farming. At all. Well actually, by then they knew I didn’t, but I was good for a laugh! When I first got to Apache the local cowboys asked me if I could help them round up 18 cows. The maths nerd in me said, ‘Yes, of course. – That’s 20 cows.’ (actually, that’s a Jake Lambert joke, but not far off the truth!). I had been found wanting as a farmer more than once before.
‘We’ rounded up the calves, corralled them and roped them, brung them down and trussed them up.
‘We’ then: De-horned them with pincers; Cauterised the stumps with a red-hot metal ‘dome’; Injected them – inoculation; Castrated them with a pen-knife (not me!); and branded them with a red-hot branding iron. I hovered around, just of out of range of doing anything useful. Once a calf looked immobile I’d lay a cautious hand on it and say, Hold still, You!
Then we released them into the next pen, where they stood around bleating with a WTF!? expression on their dials.
After a long day we went home, washed up and gathered in Walter & Pug Hrbacek’s barn for the Big Annual Mountain Oyster Fry, where the very capable ladies fried the mountain oysters covered in batter. We ate ’em, washing them down with cold Coors beer.
What reminded me about this eventful day was this: