Sunday, July 27, 2008

Life on the ranch

Most of you who know me probably have a hard time believing I ever had anything to do with cattle. I am retired and I usually wear a pair of shorts when I go anywhere.

But, the fact of the matter is, I do live in Texas and have for the better part of the last 30 years or so. Texas is known for having cattle. Right?

Truth be told, I have dabbled in cows.

Back when my first wife and I divorced and I moved from Longview to Tatum, I moved in with a friend, Pat Browning, who was going through a divorce, too. We each needed to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives, so we rented a duplex in Tatum. Pat was a school teacher (assistant principal, actually) in Tatum, a small town south of Longview.

Pat had some land in Fair Play, another even smaller town, or community, I should say, south of Tatum and north of Carthage. Fair Play had a convenience store and that was it. You could buy gasoline and groceries.

Long story short, Pat had a few cows on his land in Fair Play. And he had a small cabin, which was a good place to relax and be alone with your thoughts.

Naturally, I became interested in cows, because Pat taught me some of the finer points. He had maybe 45 cows, which had a few calves. I bought five of them, so together, we were running (a term I learned from Pat) 50 or so cows.

Another friend, George Whitley, bought one of the calves, too. So, technically, we had 51 cows, or 51 head of cattle.

Every so often, we had to give our cows shots, feed them and just …well, you know, do all the things a person does when he has, uh, hum, cattle.

There I was, in my shorts, and a T-shirt wearing a pair of Rockports, helping Pat round up cows and pen them up, so we could give them shots. I must have been a sight, because Pat had his jeans and cowboys boots on like any normal cowboy should.

Not me.

I also helped Pat take care of nearly 100 acres (wearing my shorts and Rockports) by mowing, with a tractor, of course, and loved every minute of it. I mowed every inch of every acre, and it took a good two weeks. I mowed after my regular newspaper job, on Saturdays and Sundays, whenever I had a few extra minutes to spare.

It was how I collected my thoughts after getting divorced.

So, with that part of life behind me, I can now look upon it as fun. At the time, though, it wasn’t real fun.


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