By Glenda Price: CNJ columnist
My father-in-law and my husband bought 100 head of cows one year. It was a partnership deal, but when we unloaded them at the ranch they decided to split them 50-50 and each partner put his own brand on his half.
It was early spring, so some of the cows had babies, others were springers and several were dry. A couple of those dry cows looked barren to me. They not only didn’t have babies, I’d have bet that any bull daring to court those biddies would get kicked into the next pasture.
We put them in the water lot. Each guy picked a corral for his half of the cows, and I was the designated herd holder and gate opener. Sounds fairly simple, right?
Naturally, those barren cows hung around the edge of the herd, wanting out. After the 10th time I put them back in the herd because neither guy picked either cow, I figured out. The cattle dividing had become a contest, each guy trying to outdo the other by choosing the best cows, thus having the better herd.
Of course, NOBODY wanted those barren gals.
At first, the guys took their time and eased among the cattle, taking care to keep each mama with her baby if she had one and being careful not to choose the springers because some of them looked ready to calve right away.
After a couple of hours the easy choices were gone — the cows with healthy calves by their sides, and the ones with the best beef-cow conformation — so I figured the guys would speed things up a little.
They got even slower with their choices.
Each fellow, when it was his turn, would meander through the herd, scattering everybody so I had to keep gathering them back up again. I swear they got down to judging their choices by picky little things like hair color (they were all Herefords) or length of tail.
By then I’d named those two barren babes — Snot Nose and Helga the Witch. By the time another hour had passed I swear those cows recognized their names when I yelled at them.
Meanwhile, my horse was worn out and about as frustrated as me. He and old Snot Nose started having stare-downs, her too tired to run for it and him too worn out to much care if she did.
FINALLY, we were down to those two and four others that didn’t look too shiny. It was my father-in-law’s turn to pick. He started out with one, got another look at her rear end on the way out, and changed his mind. He turned her back and just sat there, looking.
My husband started laughing. I didn’t think it was a dang bit funny. I got off my horse, yelled, “You so-called partners act like cutthroat cow traders. You can get yourself another herd holder and gate person because I quit.” I put my horse up and stomped to the house.
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org