Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ghost Busters

It is not uncommon for us to have “ghosts” that tend to haunt us in life.  I am not talking about spirits or paranormal beings.  I am talking about things that we would rather not be a part of our lives, but tend to be lurking in the shadows or around the corner to “haunt” us.  For some it could be a bad habit or lack of discipline, for others it might be a bad relationship or the guilt of things in our past.  I want tell you about a ghost that I got rid of for good today.

Many of you know that we have some cows on our ranch.  We are not cowboys, nor do we even have a horse.  We do have a small corral and a squeeze chute that allows us to hold the cattle to tag them or give them shots.  Almost all of our cattle are docile enough to get them to go into our corral by following a feed bucket and then we can sort them into the squeeze chute or down a different chute to put them in a trailer.  We have a few cows that are tame enough to hug, pet, or eat out of your hand.  We also have a few that are wild enough that it is VERY difficult to get them into the corral at all. 

When our cows have a baby calf, we usually will take the young cattle to the market to sell when they are about 6 months old.  The only exception to that is when we decide to keep a girl calf (heifer) to raise up and replace one of our older momma cows.  So other than our herd bull, it is rare for a male calf to be on our property past about 6 months of age.  Well, over the past 18 months, I have been trying to catch a steer that is as wild as a rodeo bull.  He was born in January………of 2014.  That’s right, he is 2 years old and still running around our ranch, eating hay and never getting close to the corral.  I started calling him Ghost, because he was so elusive. 

Last spring, I put a bounty on this steer’s head.  When this happened, Jared, Jamil, and Jayne decided that they would “round him up”.  They took our rhino atv and chased Ghost until he was exhausted and then, somehow, Jared got a rope around his neck.  This rope was tied around the roll bar of the atv.  As Ghost started to buck and protest, the rope found its way around the passenger seat and the seat was “removed” from the atv.  Ghost got away and the 2 seat atv became a 1 seater.  Ghost 1, Gregstons 0.

After we returned from Uganda, in July, I opened up the corral and allowed the cows to get in to eat down some of the grass.  One day, while I was out doing some things outside, I noticed that Ghost had wandered into the corral with some other cows while no people were around.  I “sprinted” (my kids say I run at the speed of smell) and I got to the gate before Ghost.  Finally!  I had captured Ghost.  This was a Monday and planned to take him to the stockyards on Wednesday (the only day that they receive animals).  On Wednesday, I met with an electrician to solve a problem with power to our barn.  The breaker box is near the corral and while we were looking at this, Ghost got “spooked” and ran with the intent of jumping the 6 foot fence of the corral.  He did not make it over, but he did break the panel and with a second attempt he sprung himself free.  UGGGGHH!  So now Ghost was again eating the grass and he had broken my corral.  Ghost 2, Gregstons 0.

Over the fall, I tried a few times to get all of the cows to follow my pick up into the corral by honking and making noise.  Most of them know that I will be feeding them when I do this.  Each time I did this, I got all but about 3 of the cattle to come in.  Ghost never came even close.  I decided that as long as there was grass for him to eat, I might never catch him. 

It was a blessing that our grass lasted until after Christmas this year.  This was related to the mild and wet summer.  I mapped out a plan that when I started feeding hay, I would put the hay feeder in the corral and if the cows wanted to eat, they’d have to come into the corral.  I wanted to time this where I could try to catch Ghost on a Wednesday, put him directly in the trailer and go to the stockyards.  Due to my work and travel schedule, I had not had a Wednesday free until now.  So this past Sunday, I put the hay feeder in the corral and opened the gate wide open.  I would only go around to put a new bale of hay in each day. 

This morning (Wednesday), I got home from working overnight in the ER, and I was hoping to see all of the cattle in the corral.  I was pleased to see the corral was full of cattle.  I was going to drive around to the close the gate and then see if I had caught the Ghost.  As I drove around the house heading to the corral.  I saw Ghost out in the pasture hanging out with Sadie our Great Pyrenees livestock dog.  UGGHHH.  So late morning, I fired up my tractor, picked up a bale of hay and made a big circle around the pasture to make sure all of the cattle saw me with it.  Then I pulled into the corral and placed it in the feeder.  I parked the tractor and went to hide behind a shed to watch.  Slowly the wilder cattle started to filter in.  Then finally, I saw Ghost walk in.  He was on alert and not eating.  I kid you not, I got down on my knees and pulled my brown hoodie over my head and started crawling to get across the 50 yards of open space to make it to the gate.  I caught him!  I got Jared to help me and we started trying to get Ghost in the loading chute.  After we accomplished this, Ghost tried 3 times to jump the fence and each time he fell back and he got up more angry than the time before.  The last time, his nose was bloody and he was staring at me like he remembered the day that I put a tight rubber band around a certain part of his anatomy that changed him from a bull to a steer.  We got the trailer ready and Jared hid beside the trailer and held the inner gate where he could release it if I got the steer to go into the trailer.  After a 5 minute standoff, Ghost decided he wanted to run down the loading chute.  He took off and I chased behind him.  I chased him all the way up into the trailer.  Jared released the gate and I jumped in the trailer behind the Ghost and latched the gate.  He was ANGRY and I thought he would tear up my trailer.  I loaded an older cow in the back of the trailer and took off for the stockyards. 

It took me about 90 minutes to drive to the stockyards.  As I pulled up to the unload area, the man working there asked me if I wanted the two “cows” pregnancy checked.  I told him that one of them was a steer.  The lady filling out the form said “that is a steer?”  “He is so big, I thought he was a cow”.  “How old is he?”  We had a good laugh and I advised them to find him a pen that had high walls.  As I drove away, I stopped to take this photo.  

I won the final and deciding round, but he was still giving me the stink eye!

Now that I have gotten rid of this ghost, I think that I will concentrate on putting more of God’s word into my mind and fewer calories into my body.  Fewer calories…..that can wait, tonight I am going to celebrate the win with a good steak!!!

I hope you enjoyed me retelling my misadventures and I hope that you can take your ghost to the stockyards.