In Boot Hill, Today's Feed

The ground is wet, the wind is harsh…ouch, “Gosh darn it,” I wave my finger in the air, like that does anything. I suck the wound and spit. This takes some of the sting out. That barbwire sure can bite. I reach down into my yellow bucket. It’s my own dang fault. I should’ve had my gloves on. I pulled on my thick leather gloves, worn and comfortable. They used to belong to my father, but I wear them now. They are big and cozy.

I pick up my bucket and shovel, time to walk the fence line. I have to do this twice a year, in early fall and mid spring. We can’t lose any cows. They are my father’s livelihood, so no broken fence lines. I grasp the wire with my gloves and use the wire to pull me along. Now the barbwire doesn’t bite.

I hum along to the tune in my head. I can’t daydream too much, ’cause I have to watch out for rattlers. That is why I carry a bucket and shovel. I use the shovel to cut off the snake head and the bucket to put the rest in. My neighbor Stan makes a tasty snack with the meat and all sorts of things with the skin. He has a rattle snake wallet, boots, and jacket. I am not too worried about seeing rattlers this time of year, it is too early. In spring the air is cold and the ground is wet, they don’t like this weather.

I spot a weak point in the fence line. I pull out my orange flag to tag it. Father and I will re-wrap the wire tomorrow. I look up, a herd of cows are heading my way. I smile, there is Valentine. She was born on Valentine’s Day and is blessed with a tiny heart on her head. A few years back there was a news story about a cow born on Valentine’s Day with a heart on its head.  When it happened here in the Coulee, there was no news story.

My little sister helped deliver Valentine. Callie fell instantly in love. Father told her not to get attached, because that cow was going to market.

My father acts all tough, but it has been over seven years and Valentine hasn’t gone anywhere. To Callie she is a pet, a large, smelly pet. If Callie had to pick up Valentine’s poo…she would let her go to market. In the summertime the stench of the cow poo could suffocate you.

“Are you daydreaming sunshine?”

“No, Father.”

“Then who were you talking to?”

“The wind.”

“Did it answer back?”

“Not yet. I found one weak spot, I marked it.”

“That’s my girl. You are a hard worker, Fawn. I think we have done enough for today.”

“Okay Father, can I go play?”

“Yes, but wash up first.”

“Got it” “Woo-hoo…oops I forgot my bucket.”

“I got your bucket, Fawn”

“Thanks, Father”

A girl loves to help manage the herd, but she also loves to play on a perfect spring day.

Written by: Collette Cottingham; Boot Hill

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