Not Safe For PETA
Yesterday brought with it a five am wake up call, which brought with it some interesting new experiences. For instance I now know that there actually is a five am…and that it’s apparently legal to wake someone up at that time. Who knew?
On a brighter side (Hmm…interesting choice of words, brain. The sun wasn’t even up until 7:30.), the events following the slow crawl from a surprisingly comfy super-twin bed turned out to be MUCH cooler than I would have thought.
Getaway Girl and I were invited out to, her dad, Jimmy’s ranch to “help” round up about fifty cows that weren’t breeding to be taken to a “happier place.” I was probably exactly as helpful as you’d imagine.
After gathering the horses, we mounted up and made our way out to the pasture. What with my current reputation for falling off of everything I try to ride on and this being my first solid experience riding a horse I was understandably not 100% confident the day’s events would play out in my favor.
As I sat on top of “Woody,” (Wow. There’s GOT to be a better way to put that! It was the horse’s name! Woody. It’s not some sick…okay, let’s just drop it.) I thought back, trying to remember everything I’ve learned from years of being forced to watch bad westerns.
Catching me looking around for the accelerator Getaway Girl turned to her dad, “I think Brett may need a quick course on riding a horse.”
As he jumps up on the saddle he yells back, “Keep the horse in the middle. If he can ride an ostrich he can ride a horse!”
I think to myself, “That’s funny. I like Jimmy…I wonder if he knows I fell off of two ostriches?”
On the ride out to the pasture that the cows were grazing in I kept shouting, “Mush!” But Woody didn’t seem to care. I continued to lose ground to the rest of the team until it occurred to me that spurs would be useless if you weren’t supposed to kick a horse. Not that I had spurs on…but the logic still seemed powerful and Woody seemed to agree by picking up the pace to a trot.
Until we’d get to a ditch, at least. Then Woody mostly just looked at it until I’d kick him again…at which point he’d start drinking the filthy water. “Come on buddy, you’ve got this! It’s just a little ditch. All the other horses are doing it.” Sometimes the words would touch his little horse heart and sometimes they wouldn’t but eventually he’d work his way up to a half leap (you know, like when you start to lean out over a gap but you wait until your only option is to either fall over or jump so you put JUST enough effort into the push-off to barely land on the other side…) and we’d speed up again to catch up to the group.
It turns out the actual herding was pretty simple. Mostly you just ride behind the cows yelling nonsense at them so they know you’re there and send them into ever-smaller pens. (Remember that game Jezzball? It’s like that…but with saddle sores.) Of course, I’m sure a large part of why it seemed easy is because I wasn’t very helpful. I had a few opportunities to get things done but mostly I stayed out of the way to the best of my ability and watched Jimmy and Bob do all of the work.
Once the cows were penned near the scales we had to send them into a cage a few at a time until they could be weighed and let out the other side. I got to be in charge of the gates on both sides…
As it so happens, when you shove several scared cows into a small cage together they can kind of freak out…and when they do, there is no shortage of watery excrement hitting the ground. Mind you, this is the same ground they are frantically trying to gain traction on to run through the bars of the cage. So, the guy closest to the cage (the guy working the gates for example) will spend an hour of his life having cow crap rained down upon him in a “shit storm” unseen since, well…since this week at the NYSE.
Eventually, once I was covered from head to toe in feces and the two trucks were loaded with enough walking hamburgers to feed the guests of fifty end of Amtrekker celebrations (October 25th!), I walked away feeling like I had a completely satisfying new experience unlike anything that had been put on the list. These are always my favorite moments…when I can go be part of an adventure that I never even saw coming. As cool as my sudden ranching experience was, it was made even cooler by the spontaneity of the whole event.
So thanks again to Jimmy and the whole Wohl clan! I totally enjoyed my time in Sebring and met a TON of friendly people I hope I can stay in contact with. And thanks again to Getaway Girl for making it all happen!
Just for the record. Bookingbuddy really is a pretty rad website if you’re looking to plan a trip. It actually allows you to search most of the top websites from one location. Pretty handy! But more importantly…our new affiliation with bookingbuddy.com means all you have to do to help out Amtrekker is click on one of their ads and sign up for an awesome newsletter filled with travel deals! Thanks everyone!
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