Truthfully, I'm not sure that number is high enough. But, as I stood waiting on the tractor to again pull the pickup and trailer through mud and muck, it's what went through my mind. It was more like mud wrestling than farming around here this fall.
So, am I exaggerating about the 35? Nope.
First of all, we were a couple weeks behind schedule. We had waited until mid-November, hoping the water on our normal route would recede after the 14-plus inches of fall rain we'd received.
We couldn't wait any longer, so we added 12 miles to each of our trips to and from the pasture, since we had to go the long way around. (We made a total of 12 trips, so that's an extra 144 miles. See? I told you 35 wasn't exaggerating!)
In fact, it rained and deposited another 2 inches or so of rain, and it snowed a couple of times for good measure, including on the night before we were supposed to round up all the cattle at the Ninnescah.
But it was a brisk 4-wheeler ride to find the mamas and babies and get them to cross water into the pens and corral.
Of course, a few of them were "visiting" a neighbor's pasture, so it added another step to the process.
The ground was so saturated that a 4-wheel-drive pickup couldn't pull a trailer by itself. So each trip to the pasture also necessitated hooking up the loader tractor to the pickup and pulling it back out to the road.
At first, Randy planned to have the loaded trailer "limp" all the way home. But one of the tires was leaving a dark mark on the blacktop road, and I started campaigning for an alternative. What if the trailer totally broke down on U.S. Highway 50, a route we had to take for several miles to get back home? I was envisioning trying to transfer cattle from one trailer to another while semis whizzed by.
Getting the cattle to step from one trailer to the other is usually the bigger challenge, he contended. He and his Dad had to do it a long time ago. But the mamas and babies cooperated well. (Maybe they knew we were about at the breaking point.)
I was the feed truck driver and full-time hired hand.
Note: We actually moved cattle home from summer pastures in mid-November. I never got the blog post written - visiting granddaughters, holiday preparations, personnel problems ... the list goes on and on. But I still thought we needed a record of this memorable year. And by memorable, I don't mean enjoyable ... except the granddaughters. That part was enjoyable! As I've said in the past, it's important to tell about the hard stuff, too - not just the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets but what actually went on between them.