Back to the Farm

I’ve been homesick a lot this semester – and not just for my family. The view out my window is the brick wall across the street. It’s been so long since I’ve saddled up or driven a tractor, sometimes I wonder if I can even call myself a cowgirl anymore. I was starting to get depressed and disinterested when my wonderful lab co-worker, Joelle, said, “Hey, they’ll work you to death, but you can always come out to the farm this weekend and hang out with my parents.” I thankfully accepted her invitation and rolled my butt out of bed at six thirty that Saturday morning. We stopped briefly for coffee and hit the highway, twisting and turning through the maze of farmground outside of the “concrete jungle”.

We pulled into a lot and after a flurry of introductions (mom, dad, dog) I was handed an achingly familiar calf bottle full of milk replacer and they pointed me towards the calf pen. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. A few minutes later, my out-of-practice hands were covered in slobber and my hair smelled like baby calf from rubbing my head on theirs.

“Mom” took me out to walk pens and we had to put a steer back in the right pen. She kept apologizing for the dirty pickup – but it reminded me of the old flatbed I’d learned to drive in, so I didn’t mind at all.

I was so excited to get to drive the four-wheeler; it seems like the last time I’d ridden one, I was still so little that I had to use my “trick-rider” move and reach down to shift with my hand, since my feet were too short to move the clutch. So “Mom” strapped on the tagging toolbox and we went out to look for baby calves. I got the hang of it and was driving like a real badass, holding both syringes and a loaded tagger in one hand. Needless to say, I was too busy to get a picture of that.

Fortunately, we noticed that one of the heifers was in pretty hard labor and not making a lot of progress. So we called “Dad” down to help out a little bit. After penning the heifer, he slipped a loop on to each of the calf’s feet. The heifer wouldn’t hold still, so “Mom” expertly tossed a loop on her (second time in her life she’d ever roped something, she said) and I dallied onto the fence with the rope. With a lot of effort, the calf wiggled out and thankfully was fine.

Another baby calf was pretty well abandoned by his mama, and Joelle, "Mom" and I gave him some shots, dried him off, and fed him. He peed all over Joelle on the way home, and we named him JJ. After a change of pants, Joelle and I decided to brave the drizzly weather and saddle up the ponies. We rode into town for some experience training on her colt, but made a speedy trip back to the house since it suddenly started to downpour.

When I called my mom that night to tell her I'd made it back to Lincoln okay - my dad had asked if I'd quit school to stay on the farm. I told him if I'd gotten to ride in the feedtruck, I might've. (Ha ha, jk.) I also told my mom that I was now going to be single for a lot longer - owning a farming/ranching/feedlot operation is now a mandatory requirement for anyone I date. (Kidding...kind of.) It was so nice to get away from the city for a while - I literally felt like I'd taken a trip back in time and got to be a kid again. I worked until I was filthy, got stuffed full of wonderful homecooked food, and slept like a rock. As far as I'm concerned,that was the equivalent of a weekend at the spa! It was so good to be reminded of the "good life" and what it is that I'm here at school for.

My thanks to the Pillen Family for adopting me over the weekend!! (My sanity thanks you too!)

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