Bull Run

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I grew up in the Dairy State. Holsteins are the milk cow of choice for that area. They are big boned, meaty bovines, that produce massive  amounts of milk. Years of breeding has brought up the butterfat, making them even more valuable. The black and white cow is part of the Wisconsin culture.

Loving farming and working with livestock, I worked at different dairies over the years. I appreciated that most farmers treated their animals well.

The downside, in those days, was the hazard of handling bulls, but as the years passed more and more farmers switched to artificial insemination. A few farmers still ran their own bulls, but they were few and far between. Every family in the area had a story where a bull killed someone they knew, or knew of.

The female of the bovine species is usually gentle. Many come home to be milked when you call them. Buckets of grain are reward enough to bring them in for milking time; unless they are out on new pasture. Then, you have to go get them.

This was one of those times. The day before we had run a single, electric wire, on step-in fence posts, around a new field. The “girls” were  oblivious to my calls, so the dog and I headed out to bring them home for the evening milking.

The bull and I noticed each other about the same time.

This farmer had a bull, but he seldom let him run with the cows, unless he noticed one was in heat. Protocol was: he’d tell me if the bull was out and I would use the old, blue tractor to get the cows.

This was the day it had slipped his mind.

That bull and I looked at each other for a long minute. When he started to trot towards me, I lit out. That electric wire wouldn’t even slow him down. The five-strand, barb-wire, line fence might … slow him down.

Now let me tell you, I come from a long line of fine fence builders. You haven’t seen anal until you’ve seen a Wisconsin farmer building a line fence. They are straight and tight; so tight that farmers brag about bulls bouncing off of them.

This was not one of those line fences, but I was hoping the old boy might get tangled up in the barb-wire, cut a tendon or something, anything to get his mind off of me.

I doubted I’d make it to the line fence, but y’know, in a pinch you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m not fast and that line fence was pretty far away. I gave it all I had, expecting to feel the earth shake as that two-ton devil closed in on me. His breath on my heels lit a fire under my feet.

Time ceased to exist. What seemed like an eternity later, I found myself standing on the other side of that poor excuse for a line fence, no idea how I got there. I whipped around to see where the bull was.

My knees were like water.  I bent over, putting my hands on them to steady them, trying to catch my breath. If that fence didn’t hold him or turn him, I was toast.

The field was empty.  My heart hammered in my chest. What the hell?

Where was that bull? I looked near, first, then expanded my horizons;  saw the cows. Looking past them, I saw the bull disappearing into the woods, chasing the dog. (God, I love dogs.)

I melted against an old, wobbly post with relief. I had never run so fast in my life. After a long while, I recovered. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me fleeing my own imagination.

With a huge sigh of relief, I walked up to get the old, blue tractor.

P.S. Don’t worry, the dog was home in time for supper.

 

 

Jars of Broken Dreams

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As children play around and dream

of what they’ll someday be,

so did I, as a young child,

and the things I did see!

The glitter of those fancies bright,

were, Oh! so full of hope.

The opportunities were endless,

  of all the ways I’d cope.

But, I forgot from whence they came;

to look upon HIS plan.

I messed them up and tarnished them,

with my own clumsy hands.

Til, finally, there was nothing left,

but pieces small and wee.

I cried and put them up in jars,

safe, away from me

 

For many years, I plodded on,

head down and feeling small, 

pulling back from others,

not measuring up at all.

And then, when I bumped into you,

a memory recalled.

To my surprise, I looked up and

mercy is what I saw.

We fellowshipped together and 

examined who we are.

Then … one day, you pointed up,

to my old dusty jars ….

“No, no,” I cried, “let’s not go there!

They’re jars of broken dreams.

There’s pieces only, nothing left,

just useless shattered schemes.

 

But, you insisted that we look.

I pulled one down to sit.

The pieces were all there, still yet.

You showed me how they fit!

Not wanting any more to dream,

you showed me that I could,

and to share my dreams with others

is how I make them good.

 

Riding in the Rockies

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We were a couple of tourists,

vacationing last week.

We camped out in the Rockies,

beneath the mountain peaks.

We put our ponies in a pen,

after riding ’round a bit.

We marveled at the scenery,

and took many shots of it.

We layered up cuz we were cold

in the crisp morning air,

and we grumbled about the dust,

and its presence ev’rywhere.

We rode up to the Great Divide,

a ride like none before.

There was no way to be prepared

for what it held in store.

The waterfalls and the switchbacks,

the paths across loose shale,

the rock that bounced for many feet,

a hoof kicked off the trail.

Hindquarters slipping off the path,

caused hearts to skip a beat.

We teased and called encouragement.

Adventure can be sweet!

We laughed and talked and shared our lives,

that time that we did spend.

The views were all the sweeter cuz

we shared them with our friends.

A vacation in the Rockies?

Oh, it was more than that.

The time we spend with folks we love,

is really where it’s at.

The Teamster

The Teamster

© April 2013 by Ani O.

I’ve hooked my horse up to a cart

     a couple times, for fun.

But when she ran and flipped the thing

     my driving days were done.

 

One horse can be tough to handle,

     I can’t imagine two.

And if they want to scrap and fight,

     Whatever would I do?

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When the horse was transportation

     back in days of old,

there were men called Teamsters,

     worth their weight in gold.

 

There are teamsters still today,

     who can center a team of hosses.

You see them flicker back their ears,

     They’ve learned who the boss is.

 

The Teamster sees potential in

       this pair of such great pow’r.

Teaching them to pull together

       for a needful hour.

 

I see a lesson here for me,

     as I look upon my mate.

Sometimes we fight and scrap ourselves.

We don’t cooperate.

 

We want to go our selfish way,,

     We each think we’re the boss!

The Master comes and talks to us,

     a teamster to his hoss.

 

He lengthens here and loosens there,

     our tugs and fills so knowing,

showing us that He’s the boss,

     and He knows where we’re going.

 

And so He centers us, His team

     with a voice that’s full of care,

reminding us that we’re a match.

     and His beloved pair.

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My mate and I, we are a team,

     through good or stormy weather.

We lean and pull at His command,

       and so … we pull together.

 

Schaffee’s Mules

 

Shaffee had a team of mules, large and soft and black.

They were taller than my dad, and had great, fat backs.

Shaffee loved those big mules, he never made them work.

They were kind and friendly, but pleasant don’t plow dirt.

 

Funny thing about those mules, that never plowed the sod,

(you could see it from afar) – their mismatched ears were odd.

Dad and I would call on him and go see his ‘ol friends’.

They always came to the fence, glad to make amends.

 

I would study them big ears. They were rough and bumpy

Three ears had missing tips, one – half gone and lumpy.

The old man saw me staring and then he told the tale

of how those mules lost their ears on a fiery trail.

 

This story is old, he said. Near forty years ago!

We lived up in the North Woods, close to Peshtigo.

I heard Dad suck in his breath, and knew this tale was true.

He had lumberjack-ed up there, back in his years of youth.

 

A  fire raged, great and hot. The flames reached to the sky,

and as far as you could see. We all began to cry.

The only thing I could think was to go into the burn

to get to where it was safe. There’s nowhere else to turn.

I hooked my mules to the cart. The wife wet down the quilts.

I steered them into the flames, (and swallowed up my guilt.)

We hid in our comforters , to keep us from the heat.

Those two mules went right on through, though the ground burnt their feet.

By prayer and grace, we made it through heat and flames that day.

My family and I, and the mules who pulled our dray.

We were fine but smelled of smoke and felt we got off cheap.

Our faithful friends lost their ears, but they had earned their keep.

The only hair they had left, was where their harness lay.

We cried as we tended them. Thank God for them, that day.

Dad’s and my eyes teared up, as we looked upon those two

black and shiny pair of friends; beloved heroes, true.

The courage of those brave mules still inspires me today.

Courage means to face the fire  and not to run away.

Close Encounters

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I walked up to Madison’s City Square, to meet a friend. It was early spring, early Sunday. I’d been under the weather lately, but couldn’t put my finger on why.  I sighed, resigning myself to the cold mundaneness of day to day life.

Walking with my head down, I sensed a large person coming toward me. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see he was huge. I avoided looking directly at him, but glanced around to see if there were any people outside who could come to my aid, if I needed it.

The streets were empty.  Early Sunday mornings are not known for their pedestrian traffic or outside activities. It was one of the reasons I was out walking. Regret wormed its way through my gut. I could cross the street. How rude would that be? Besides, there was no way I would outrun such a big guy.

I pursed my lips and pressed on, not making eye contact. When I was within a few feet from him, I glanced up. He was big, but beautiful. My two second glimpse of him captured a smile that shot through me, casting light into all my dark places!

Dazed, I dropped my eyes. His smile, erasing any memory I had of what he looked like, carried a message of hope to my heart that warmed every element of my being. Though at the time, I could not have put that into words.

As soon as he was past me, I turned my head to try and recapture his image. I wanted to remember.

There was no one there.

I stopped and turned around, searching everywhere. The only movement was the gentle breeze, moving new leaves.

Forty years later, I can finally put my experience into words. When I feel the cold mundaneness of life closing in, that smile still warms me.

Have you ever had a brief, but close encounter that is unforgettable?

Write on,

Ani