Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ranching 101 - Part 1

Our trip down to my hometown of Cotulla was fast and furious. Though we didn’t race any cars, or do any Tokyo drifting, we did have quite an exciting time.

Cotulla’s been going through a lot of changes lately because of this:


No, it’s not home to the newest theme park. This little town has nearly doubled in size because of an oil boom. This rig in the picture is right across the street from my old high school. And, since my house is two blocks from the high school, we can hear the rig running all night.

The field behind my house which once was the brush covered backdrop for many childhood adventures has been cleared to make room for trailers that house oil company employees.


In fact, any bit of free space in town now has a travel trailer parked on it. Every hotel room in town is booked for several years. There are two new hotels being built in this one stoplight town. There’s actually traffic!

But despite all of the oil activity, some things have remained the same. My dad still houses enough animals to rival Jack Hanna; the kids think this place is better than Sea World [though they’ve never been to Sea World]; and I  get stuck with the task of explaining why we can’t take that dog, or cat, or donkey, or baby calf home with us.


This trip in particular was filled with some planned and many unplanned activities right up until we left. My dad, besides being super busy as a feed salesman, has also taken up a job as a ranch manager. From the moment we arrived, we were schooled in the art of ranching…which my kids soon found out was no easy task.

Cotulla, like just about every other place in Texas, is going through a major drought, which keeps my dad’s feed business in overdrive. When he’s not hauling feed, he’s on the ranch, trying to keep the numerous cattle fed and watered. The first morning there, we accompanied my dad to go burn pear cactus, in which he burns the thorns off of the plant so the cattle can eat it. It’s not a pleasant job by any means, but especially in 100 degree weather.







This, as you can imagine, is a hot job. The kids sat in the truck a good portion of the time, munching on ice. My dad was sweating through his Carhartt jacket, which is like sweating through whale blubber….not easy to do. The kids weren’t too keen on this little venture, but the biggest weenie was this fur ball:


She was terrified. She sat in the floorboard of the truck the whole time, wouldn’t drink any water, wouldn’t even eat the beef jerky I offered. To say she’s a spoiled little city dog would be an understatement.

After burning pear, we helped my dad load up a cow to take to the vet 30 miles away. This poor cow had a prolapsed uterus. If you want to see something really gross, look that up. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. It might steer you away from ever having kids. I could barely look at the poor thing. Her calf, on the other hand was beautiful. Moonpie Alice Cooper, as we named him, almost made the trip back to Austin with me. Just look at that sweet white face and black eyeliner:


While his mom was getting fixed up, we stopped into DQ for some ice cream.


30 minutes later, we loaded the momma up, and headed for home, where we were met with a whole new adventure. I’ll tell you about that in Part 2 of our ranching adventure, otherwise this post would be the size of a novel.


nessa dee

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