Thursday, September 24, 2009

Playing with the Cows

When I was a kid everybody said cattle were about the dumbest animals around.
Uncle Homer said “you can’t drive cattle from one 20 acre field to another
without some of ‘em trying to go through the fence instead of the gate!”
But I knew it wasn’t true because my friends the calves and me would play games during the summer in the field behind the barn.

Each summer’s morning when the dew was still damp upon the grass I’d take the sweet feed for the half-grown heifers and steers up to where they were pastured. I’d call the calves with a song—a song of playfulness, until all of them came near.

One-by-one and two-by-two the big calves would prance up to me. Sometimes it would seem as if they were almost smiling, happy to see me; and frisky, kicking their heels this way and that.

After all were fed it was playtime and I’d tag one and say, “you’re it” while the rest of us scampered in all directions. The chosen calf would chase each one of us until the whole field was a free-for-all of flying hooves and swinging tails. When we were tired we’d all pile up under the shade of a big old oak tree and pant for breath while my friends switched lazily at flies with their tails.

Too quickly, autumn came and I had to go back to school. It was the year that I was nine and was in fourth grade. But each afternoon when I came home the games of hide-in-go-seek and chase-the-tail were renewed with my friends the calves.

One day I came home to an empty field. I ran desperately looking everywhere. My father came to me and said, “son we had to sell the calves to make the mortgage on the farm.” I was distraught for days.

From that time onwards I never played with the new calves because I knew someday they’d be sold too.

Chuck Connors, September 19, 2009

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