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October 19, 2011

OK where was I?

Oh yeah -
It was a beautiful sunset and I had just posted my status on Facebook "I am happy - my barn is full again!"  That didn't last long!  As soon as I posted that I headed back out to the barn to move calves around, we were going to have 3 pens on different amounts of feed - so I backed the trailer up to the side lot secured the gates and unloaded the weaned Hereford heifer, put her over in the next lot, pulled the trailer up, closed the gate, parked the truck and trailer and proceeded to shuffle cattle - caught my mistake - I didn't until I heard, well some yelling and words that Chris doesn't normally use - it took me a second, then panic set in - I had never CHAINED the gate - I had just kept putting calves out there from inside the barn and they just kept walking out the pushed open gate - 4 calves out - 3 that had only been at our house for an hour!  One steer and one heifer were near the barn and walked right back in the pen the other 2 steers not so much.  We searched in the dark for 4 hours, covered miles on foot and with 4-wheelers, we had just about given up when a neighbor (I love you Paul) showed up with his ginormous spot-light and found them - we walked them towards the house, lost them again, found them again, walked some more and lost them again - and gave up for the night about midnight - in the midst of all the looking several things happened that I was not witness to that were nerve racking to say the least - the oldest ran her 4-wheeler out of gas in the dark a mile away from home - thank goodness for cell phones, the boy was using the gator and almost got hit by a car - skid marks, screaming, traumatized - it was horrible - I layed in bed with the boy all night, I was awake just thanking God repeatedly, Chris told me later that he had never been so scared - hauling corn Sat. he sat in the truck and kept telling God he didn't care about the calves he was just thankful Cole was alive - yeah it was that serious.  I listened to my kids (all 3) sob uncontrollably all night over those lost steers - I felt helpless and like the worst Mom in the world!  Needless to say I didn't sleep much finally got up about 20 minutes before sunrise still wearing the day before's clothes put on my jacket

and my new Carhartt overalls (a whole other post - but they came in really handy) and drove and looked and drove and looked and . . . . . . no luck, I talked to neighbors and more neighbors I even called the sheriff's dept. who (and I kid you not) insisted I file a "missing person's report" - I said all I want is to be notified if someone were to call in that they spotted random cattle wandering about - and in true tax payer dollars at work - 2 deputy's showed up at my house and told me I did not have to file a report they would just notify me if someone called in random cattle - THANK YOU!  I had a conversation with Danny (my soon to be hero on horseback) at one point that morning that went like this:
Me: Danny (sobbing) I can't believe I left the gate unchained, the kids are so upset, Chris is so mad - what if he divorces me?
Danny: Now Jennifer calm down - if you have cattle eventually you are going to have cattle out - I promise we will find them and we will look back on this and laugh!  And Chris won't divorce you then he would have to find someone else to take care of that passel of kids you have, cook meals and clean the house!
Me: (sobbing harder than ever now) Danny I suck at all that stuff he really is going to divorce me now this just gives him a really good reason!

I moved on to hog work with my wonderful crew of 6 kids -

Well I got to this point in the story last night and didn't quite know how to continue - this is the point I actually lost it mentally - I had not let myself cry to this point - I had been the one to screw up I didn't deserve to cry yet and have people feel sorry for me - but as Saturday progressed and just got worse - I cried - I cried a lot!

We happened to have a sow farrow outside in the last group and she had 10 healthy pigs and they needed weaned - in steps me and six kids - it started off looking like a greased pig contest - I actually laughed (I needed that) but then we had to get serious - I got the sow out of the little barn and sent the boy in for some piglets - the sow got mad - got past me - got to the boy, threw him into the barn wall HARD then when he hit the ground she started pounding on him with her head and tossing him around, I reached in grabbed him threw him out just as she clamped her jaw closed on my arm - seriously people I couldn't make this stuff up - it went from bad to worse - Cole was shook up and bruised but fine, I have teeth marks and lots of bruises on my arm - and once again my knight in shining "olive colored button down shirt with button down collars" came to my rescue (Chris) - pigs weaned, kids cleaning aisles in barns I went out once again on the 4 wheeler to look for calves - no luck!

A ray of hope - around 6pm a neighbor spotted them coming out of a woods - some quick phone calls - a couple 4 wheelers, 4 pick-up trucks and 2 scared to death calves and you have what you might call a red neck rodeo that criss-crossed 2 miles of fields and still had 2 calves on the loose 3 hours later and pitch black - called it a night again - I took 2 sleeping pills and still couldn't sleep that night!

The next morning I was back out looking and just about ready to give up when a neighbor (thank you Glenn McAlpin!) called and said he spotted them in his woods - I was done, I was calling in the cowboys - guys on horseback, we were bringing these calves home!  We watched those calves for over an hour waiting on my cowboys to get home from church and load up there horses!

There were tense moments - the calves were in a fencerow under a tree and our plan was to gently walk them down the fencerow into the makeshift corral we had set up!

That little white speck is my MIL and kids keeping an eye on the calves who are hunkered down under that tree in the fencerow that still has all its leaves.

This is our make-shift corral 600 feet down the fence line to run them into.

But just in case things don't go as planned (because why would they) Chris made a corral at home that lead into the cattle lot - it is made up of 18 round bales, the 4430, our pop-up camper, 4 wheeler, gator, wheat drill, cultipacker, 4440, corn head cart, FIL's truck, grain cart on the 4640 rounded off with the semi and grain trailer!

In come the horses -

Up come the calves-

And the calves bolt - they run the whole mile and half back home with the horses in hot pursuit!

I saw them bolt sat down in the grass by the truck tire and cried continued sobbing - about 15 minutes later my phone rang, they had run all the back to our house - we jumped in the truck and rushed home - I'll be honest from that point it becomes somewhat of a blur and I did not witness all the rodeoing that happened - ironically I was put in charge of running the gates at the barn so that when they did come in that gate could be latched!

What I heard happened was after the black baldie basically gave up and walked into the front gate (not utilizing either corral we put up!) - from there we located the little red calf had been hiding under a pine tree for 20 minutes in our yard while we had covered a 1/2 mile radius around the barn on horseback, truck and 4-wheelers - we scared him out from under the tree and in the process I saw my girls in the Explorer (yeah no one posses a license) take off at a rather high rate of speed to keep him out of the corn field rounded him into the yard bouncing up and down in my Explorer into the bean field where Chris took over running the calf in circles running the throttle with his left hand grabbing the calf halter with his right, drug off the 4-wheeler - at one point the story goes that the guys on horseback said they stayed back far enough because they didn't want Chris to hear them laughing - after he was jerked off the 4-wheeler apparently he and the calf were both laying on the ground eye to eye, a neighbor jumped on top the calf and they finally got him tied to the back of a pick-up truck - I pulled the trailer back to the field and we got him loaded up!

Now everyone is home and looking at the glass half full - after 3 days of everything being out of whack we just stuck all the calves in the same pen, fed them all the same amount and they all ate!


My barn is full again and all the gates are chained!



  1. Oh My Gosh that is the scariest story I ever heard. Your kids and you this was a nightmare for sure. I hope you have now woke up and know it is all a dream.
    Since that is probably not going to happen take care of your self and your awesome kids.
    We once bought four heifers they broke out of the barn and disappeared we think they went back to where we bought them he says no, it was only a couple of miles away. Long story short we joke he had them trained, he sold them they ran home, he sold them again who knows we never seen them again. True story. That one hurt the pocketbook.
    I am so happy everyone is OK it must really hurt thinking of your kids I know that one would be the worst. He would never divorce you you are one of a kind and he knows how lucky he is.
    Take care Hugs. Now go to sleep. B

  2. GOOD lord! Thankful everyone is safe and found and so glad you can finally rest. That had to be super stressful.

  3. And I would leave them there for awhile You had a hard time Yes cattle do get out once in a while and it can be a nightmare Glad everyone is OK

  4. OMG Jent! Bless your heart! I had a similar experience right after we were married. It's on my page under Long Walks/Talks, but your story totally wins hands down. I so feel for you, and the whole pig trauma was way too much icing on the cake. My hubby kind of laughed at Chris' 4-wheeler rodeo experience. Farmers! Hope this weather works better for you and your tours tomorrow and Friday. I'm sure today was "fun" just like the last few days have been for you all. LOTS OF HUGS to you and maybe a shot of your favorite "anti-freeze" for these chilly nights!

  5. So glad everything turned out in the end. I've had some similar dramas around here. It's that time of year when they want to really get to that grass on the other side that's greener.

  6. Good Lord!! Everyone came out in one piece and you can look back and laugh(some). You can't ask for more than that.

  7. Oh my goodness Jent! This story is crazy! You are an amazing woman. Don't ever forget that!

  8. Oh My How I remember those days

  9. This is SOOOO something that would happen at our house. Just last week my mom had to round up a rouge rodeo bull who jumped the fence during the night and was lying in the middle of our township road chewing his cud @ 6:30 in the morning - in her Jeep while on her way to my house to get my kids ready for school and on the bus. City folk would never believe the daily tales of adventure. :)

  10. I absolutely love Chris's corral! Those are photos that will make you laugh (I hope) in the weeks to come. I am so glad that Everyone is home safe and sound, cattle included. Put your feet up, mama, and snuggle your awesome family.