Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

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"The Big Round-up" - Family Ranch in Calaveras County, CA

The ranch had cows.  Or is it cattle?  I’m showing my city girliness now I realize.  My cousin, the big animal vet in town, was letting her cows (mom cows and their calves) graze on her parents’ ranch.  Today was weaning day, which meant round-up time.  I was all expecting to watch my relatives saddle up and lasso those cows, herd and hog tie them!  My aunt looked at me and laughed!  “Oh Linnie Jean, no one uses horses any more unless we have to!”  So Santa Barbara beach girl that I am, I decided I’d better help them by getting out of the way, so I stood outside the corral and grazing area and watched my family do modern round-up.  (...and why do aunts tend to call us by our first and middle names even at 50+?  It's hard to not feel like I'm 6 again!)


Like a relay, my young cousin drove her little pickup over the pasture and herded them nearer to the corral, where my aunt sat waiting in her pickup loaded with a bale of good hay. 


When the cows got close to the second truck, my aunt drove inside the corral.  She stopped at the other end of the corral, jumped out, calling enticingly with the cow delicacy.  It sounded humorously similar to how I'd heard her for decades call her cats..."here kitty kitty..."

The tiny herd nie stampeded to get to that meal!  Both trucks were parked outside and the cows were permitted to indulge a bit while the next phase of the round-up was prepared.  My uncle prepping the gates and pens, first closing the initial gates then opening the others, creating a maze of sorts into a smaller holding pen, which usually was an eating area for the horses (long put away before this).  

Then my cousin separated the calves from their moms and my aunt and uncle “shoooood” all the calves into the maze.  Lots of MOOing, going on, I can tell you that!!



I kept wondering what the other 2 men present (besides my uncle) were going to do!  Alas, that’s Aikens women for you—doing the work of 2 men, and faster to boot!!  Here’s this 5’1” tiny woman out there herding cows in her tennies!!  Granted, they were young cows, but they were all bigger than she!  


So NOW the men jump in action and drive the big truck and livestock trailer in and start herding the cows down the “chute”  (?) and into the trailer.  All those poor little cows were crying for their mamas, and all night long...believe me when I tell you....ALL NIGHT LONG... those sad mamas mooooo’ed heartbroken wails for their babies!  The bad thing was that my cousin just lived over the rise, not even 1/4 mile away, so both mamas and babies could hear each other but couldn’t get to each other!    


You don’t even want to know what they were going to do with the baby cows!   I think that cured me of wanting to live on a least a livestock ranch!  hahaha!


So I turned to the chickens, who I knew my aunt and uncle were too softhearted to ever eat!!  Fresh eggs was the only harm ever to come to those chickens, who all had names!  


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