Homeland Farm

Homeland Farm

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Round up!

     I have lived on this farm for most of my almost 50 years. It has been in our family for 5 generations, and in this day and age, that is not all that common any more. My sister Kim, Brother Zak and I were very fortunate to not only have this nice house to grow up in, but were also able to grow up surrounded by family. We lived next door to my grandparents Bill and Althea Crook, and my Uncle Billy.My cousins Zenya and Natasha lived on the other side of us, and my Aunt Dorothea and Uncle David lived a little farther down the road past them. We were always having many great aunts and uncles, and loads of cousins stop by to visit almost daily.Summers were filled with cook outs, and holidays and birthdays were big family affairs.
     My grandparents and Uncle Billy were so much fun to be around, I am not even sure I will ever be able to put into words how much they meant to all of us. My sister, brother and I spent as much time as we could across the field at their house..Eating  breakfast, lunch and/or supper..Spending the night..playing "Fish" with Billy, or trying to sneak up through the field at night to jump up and scare him as he sat in his kitchen chair reading. That was one of our favorites. If we really pulled it off, he would swear and that would always make us laugh.
     My uncle was a farmer and kept cows, chickens and pigs. My grandfather, Poppa as we called him, kept an immaculate garden and raspberry patch, and the lawns were perfect. My grandmother, Nanny, kept the house neat enough to eat off the floor. I learned how to cook from Nanny, how to fish from Poppa and how to take care of animals from my Uncle Billy. He loved his cows..what he didn't like was horses. Any horse. He had had a bad experience as a child, and that was it. No horse was safe.No, he stayed far away from horses.
     So, that fateful day when the horses got out of the pasture, I knew he was not going to be much help at all, and I was right. It was a warm spring day, and the horses were leaning heavily against the fence, because as you guessed it, the grass WAS greener on the other side. I was in the house, when I saw a red flash go by the window..then a black, somewhat slower flash. Then my mothers voice came ringing through the house "Carmen! Angel is out! Hurry! There goes Ebony! Where are you?? There goes the cow!"
     When she said that, I knew we were in trouble. When one gets out, they all get out...and they were. I raced out the back door to the horse barn to grab some grain, halters and a lead rope. I walked across the back lawn toward the grazing animals, shaking the bucket of grain, telling them it was a new bag, and nice and tasty. As I walked past the kitchen, I could see my mother on the phone, and knew she was calling the "Reinforcements." I looked up across the big field and could see my grandparents house. My grandmother had come outside and stood in the middle of the lawn, arms outstretched. My grandfather went down to stand by the roadside, broom in hand. My Uncle came outside and stood on the front steps-he hates horses.
     Battle lines drawn, I headed toward the grazing animals, shaking my bucket of grain. Ordinarily, they love grain and will follow you anywhere as long as you have it, but on this fine day, the weather was just too nice, and the green grass just too sweet. I was slowly coming toward them from the rear, and my mother was easing in from the side, and for one brief, wonderful moment, I thought she was going to be able to grab Ebony's mane.
Angel was not about to let that happen. She snorted, shook her head and off they went full tilt, cow and all. I saw the "Reinforcements" tense, as the animals started their charge. "Here they come!" I hollered, and broke into a run. I stopped after a few yards, and watched as the "Reinforcements", usually so reliable, failed.
     Angel was clearly the leader as they went tearing across the field. Ebony was a close second, and the cow was right behind her, tail up in the air waving like a flag. As the animals bore down on them, Poppa started waving the broom around and hollering at the cow, who was careening across the lawn right at him. Ebony had decided on my grandmother, who was flapping her apron up and down, which was hard as she was still in it. Angel quickly assessed the situation, and headed right toward the weak spot, my uncle, who, when he saw the "damn fiery red horse" coming at him, jumped back up on the top step.
All were lost from view for a moment, and when the dust had settled, the broom had been knocked from my grandfathers hands, my grandmother's apron was torn from all that flapping and my uncle could be seen leaning out the kitchen window, still bellowing at the top of his lungs. The animals were disappearing down the road toward the highway, and the the last thing I could see was the cows tail still waving up in the air. It was time for "Operation Round Up".
      I turned and headed back toward the house, and saw my mother jump in the old LTD Stationwagon. I stopped to wait for her, tired from lugging all that grain around in my pail.I heard a reving, but it wasn't my mother. It was the "Reinforcments". They set off down the road toward the highway, looking for the runaway farm animals. My mother drove up beside me, and off we went. As we drove by my grandparents house, I could see my uncle, closing down the garage door. ( Like the horses were planning on making a run for the garage..)
Nanny and a calf at Homeland Farm
Mother and her calf at Homeland Farm
Carmen and her calf at Homeland Farm
4th generation calf owner Brogan at Homeland Farm
     "Do you think they made it all the way to town?" asked my mother. Before I could answer, she yelled "Look!" I looked down the road that ran parallel to the highway, and there they were. The "Reinforcements" had done their job..Angel was still trotting in the lead, Ebony a close second, and the cow a distant third, tail not quite so high in the air any more. My grandparents were following along behind them, giving a HONK when they started to lag.  My mother and I parked at the intersection, to block them from turning the wrong way and heading out into the highway. It was smooth sailing after that..They were all pretty tired by the time we drove them down across the field, to where my Uncle Billy sat in his truck, beside the open corral gate. As they made their way into the corral, and my grandparents, mother and I  pulled up in the cars, my uncle got out and slammed the gate. He leaned on the top bar, and said.."Well, we got 'em back, didnt we?"

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