One day the ranch owner called and suggested I “go along” on a “calf tagging" expedition. The new crop of young cattle had just been born, and in preparation for eventually selling off these cattle so the land can be returned to a more natural state, all the young calves would need to be tagged. This of course is something which I knew only enough about to be pretty sure I don’t want to be involved, but what the hell, I grabbed a pair of gloves and met Paul out in the field. Paul smiled heartily as I told him that Carol suggested I “watch” them tag some calves. “Watch!” he laughed, “ain’t no such thing as watching!”.
This turned out to be true, and I soon found myself knee deep in mud and cow shit and watching in amusement as grown men tried to throw ropes around the necks of the baby calves. Much like archery, I didn’t have a lot of experience at calf roping, so I quickly decided that I would just grab one of the suckers. I was almost instantly successful, and in one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments soon found myself with a “small” calf that probably weighed a hundred pounds and was at least as strong as I was nestled in my arms. Needless to say, the calf was not overly happy about this, and I quickly found out that his thousand pound mama wasn’t either. Snorting and bellowing at me to let go of her calf, I found out that the best defense against an angry cow is a cowboy hat. Unfortunately I had left my cowboy hat, along with my cowboy boots and chaps back where I never owned them, and was grateful when Paul came to my rescue and chased mom off. We got that first calf tagged in short order and emboldened with my success, I soon grabbed another and another. While the Texans were having little success with their ropes, when all was said and done, three out of the four calves we were able to tag that day succumbed to my clumsy but successful technique. Final score JB 3….Cowboys 1!
On the other hand, one of the things I did enjoy was riding a horse, and whenever possible I tried to tag along on the morning horseback ride. These weren’t just horses, these were Paso Finos, and a more enjoyable, easy gait ride cannot be had. The 650 acres held a load of visual treasures in the early morning light, and I never grew tired of seeing the oaks or the cedars, the ponds and the turtles, or the other farm animals out for their morning stroll.