Less Talk, More Action

Have you ever heard the advice to use action words to describe your experience and assets when writing your resume?  Potential employers want to be entertained just as much as the rest of us.  They want to know what you can do and not fall asleep while reading about it.  You know, like this:

Job Title:  Master Castration Assistant and Novice Ranch Hand (Dec. 2017):

Duties:  Secured young bulls’ hind quarters via tail and one rear leg while Rancher surgically transformed them from bulls into steers.  Promoted to Junior Gate-Juggler concurrent with hind-quarter responsibilities.  Mastered teamwork necessary to help herd each nervous patient through network of increasingly smaller pens and chutes until they reached operating table enclosure.

Achievements:  Miraculously maintained steely grip on own stomach and the contents therein throughout the entire procedure.  Promoted to Ranch Hand at the end of the day.

 – – – – – –

Not too shabby, huh?

John (Head Honcho) and his wife, Carol (Co-Honcho), suggested I add this new skillset to my workamping resume after helping them castrate this year’s bull calves.  I have mentioned these friends in other posts.  They have been raising cattle in north Texas for 55 years, and they do it the old fashioned way, doing most of the work themselves, including birthing, tagging, weighing, inoculating, castrating, weaning, and so on.

One Lucky Heifer

This visit, they let me assist during the messy task of castrating 10 bulls.  It was supposed to be 11, but one lucky calf, upon closer examination, turned out to be a heifer (see glossary of cow-terms below).  That became apparent once she was on the table and John couldn’t find what he was looking for.

When John first started raising cattle, a local teen showed him how to do the castration.  At that time, he had no special equipment beyond ropes and a sharp blade.  They literally tackled the young bulls and did the deed as quickly as possible.  He had to learn an awful lot the hard way.  A momma cow just about took him out one time with a good head-butt.

Momma’s Watchful Eye

Carol joined John sixteen years into the endeavor.  One of her early jobs before they had a network of pens to control the herd’s location and movement was to keep the Mommas away until John finished each calf.  Picture a 98 pound woman shooing off a 1,200 pound cow intent upon dealing with those mean men who just tackled her calf.  Ya.

Their calves are Angus Source Certified in accordance with USDA and Angus Association requirements.  Operations like theirs are the start of what you eventually see in your grocery store labeled as Certified Angus Beef, which is among the highest quality beef you can buy.  Great care is taken in the raising of these calves in order to meet strict requirements.  Carol is in charge of the meticulous record keeping necessary to maintain this qualification.

Whenever I visit my rancher friends, they treat me to a delicious steak grilled over an open fire.  I appreciate each year’s meal even more than the last as I learn more about the hard work and dedication that goes into raising our food, especially by small, private operations.  For the vegetarians out there, the same applies to the farmers that grow our vegetables, fruit, and grain.

A Texas-sized ‘thank you’ to all those hard workers and to my friends, Carol and John, for yet another wonderful, educational, mind-opening, resume-padding visit.  Who knows… If I time my next visit just right, I might gain another new skill for that resume:  Assistant Cow Midwife.

 – – – – – –

Glossary of Cow Terms:

Cattle:  Generic term that covers all the members of a herd.

Cow:  A female who has given birth.  Also used generically to refer to all the members of a herd.

Calf:  Juvenile member of the herd, generally under two years old.  Refers to either male or female.

Bull:  A non-castrated male, either adult or juvenile, the latter often referred to as bull calf.

Steer:  A male castrated before reaching sexual maturity.

Heifer:  A young female who has not given birth.

Where’s the Beef?

Where’s the beef???  In Mom’s freezer and, pretty soon, in my tummy!!!!

Mom and I went camping with our Texas cowpoke friends in Missouri a bit ago.  I love the fella, Mr. John.  Those are his feet that I am cuddling up to in the photo to the left.  He knows just where and how to pet me.  As for the lady, Miss Carol, I worship her.  She always has a pocketful of my favorite cookies, and she loves to dole them out to me piece by piece.  It is a lovely game.

Better yet, Miss Carol transferred half a dozen packages of ground cow from her freezer to ours.  She knows I am on a special diet and wanted to contribute to my good health and longevity with beef straight from their personal herd.  Mom says it is magic meat and will probably get me at least through Christmas.  Not bad for a sick old girl that she had all but written off a few short months ago, eh?

Mr. John says that I look great and that Mom is just overreacting to stuff the vets told her.  I really like how that guy thinks.  I also totally agree with him, but I am not letting on.  I am enjoying all the special treatment I’ve been getting, especially the home-cooked diet.

Anyways, we had a great time together.  Lots of walks and visits.  Mr. John and Miss Carol’s house-on-wheels is bigger than ours.  We all fit in there just fine and nobody stepped on me once, though I have to admit I tried my best to trip Miss Carol a couple of times when she was on her way from one spot to another carrying food.  Even if I couldn’t get her to drop what she was carrying, I was hopeful more cookies would spill from her pockets if she went down.  I suppose it is just as well that I did not succeed.  Something tells me that Mom would have banished my old bones from our get-togethers should I not be on her definition of good behavior.

One day we spent a couple of hours outside and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  Mom and our friends were trying to see something funny that was happening up in the sky.  They put weird, dark glasses on their faces and stared up at the sun.  Silly people.  Don’t they know that will give you a headache?  Things did get funky for a while, though, when the sky, trees, and grass all shifted to deeper, cooler shades, the cicadas stopped singing and end-of-the day critter songs took up the oddly-slacking chorus.  But it didn’t last long, and I knew all was well with the world when the cookies and walks resumed.

Our friends didn’t just treat me really special on this visit.  They were super nice to my Mom, too.  Mom had a birthday while we were together and they spoiled her even more than they spoiled me!  That’s all right.  Even Moms deserve a little spoiling now and then.

Back to me.  I was really sad when our visit ended.  Mom and I rolled out of the campground and she told me that our friends were going to head back to their ranch in Texas.  I cried and whined for a bit, then I took a long nap.  Everything looked better when I woke up, even though my ears hurt because Mom was howling (she calls it singing) along with the radio.  Mom says we will get to see these friends again in just a few short months and, before then, we will get to see other people that we love.  Meanwhile, I can enjoy the gift that is in our freezer and–to get to the real meat of the matter–I can relish the memories of all our good times.  So many, many good times.

Yes.  Dogs have great memories.

Especially me.

(Note from Mom to all scientifically-minded readers out there:  The picture of the eclipse included above–taken with a simple i-phone and no filter–shows the brightness of the eclipsed sun (around 98%) at the bottom of the photo.  How many observant eyes noted the curious crescent shape above and to the right?  Somehow, the eclipsed sun’s reflection ended up in those clouds, masquerading as a crescent moon.  Please explain.  Because I cannot.  Feel free to use the comments section so that others can see your explanation.  The prize will be another mystery-puzzle based on a ground photo taken around the same time.  So, come on people, make an educated–or intuitive–guess!)

Just Don’t Get Cancer :)

“Don’t worry,” my doctor reassured me when I asked about what it would cost to see him if I lost my health insurance due to the recent change in administration.  Such a benign way of putting it… change in administration….

“I will still see you for a reasonable charge if you don’t have insurance.  Just don’t get cancer….”  He smiled.  It was an odd joke, but I took it for the reassurance he meant it to be.

Until he found a lump in my breast when doing the physical exam.  Laying there as he dictated to the nurse, “left breast, nodule, one o’clock…,” that’s about the point I stopped listening.  And just focused on his face.  The poor fellow really regretted his joke.  I could see it replaying over and over in his head.

Later, sitting precariously on the examination table’s edge, reclothed, straight-backed, mind whirling-avoiding-whirling-avoiding, I smiled at the doctor when he came back into the room.  I didn’t want him to feel bad.  Or awkward.  He is one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever had.

I received my instructions to stop coffee for a month, after which I would have another physical exam and then a mammogram.  Coffee, for those of you not-in-the-know, can make breast tissue extra lumpy and dense for some women and, worse, very painful for that life-saving torture procedure known as a mammography.

Don’t worry.

Everything came out fine.  No cancer.

This time.

My birthday this year will not be a Fabulous-and-60 affair.  It will be a Hold-your-breath-because-it-is-still-five-years-until-I-am-65-and-somewhat-safe birthday.  Five years until I can get health insurance through Medicare.

Oh well.

I understand and appreciate that there are many, many, many folks out there who would resent the fact that I am a “taker.”  The federal government, through ObamaCare, assists me tremendously with my health insurance premiums.  “Why aren’t you out working and paying your own way?” they may politely inquire.

“Well, I tried.  My business failed.  I couldn’t get a job.  I took another path,” I respectfully reply.

And it looks like that pathway is closing.  Depending upon what happens with all of the politics storming around this excruciatingly basic, human need for simple, affordable health care, I may or may not be able to afford what comes next.

Just don’t get cancer.

And I will be fine.

But what about all those who do get cancer?  And heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and a host of other scary conditions that tend to be all about someone else way over there somewhere until they hit you smack in the gut close to home.

I remember a few years ago in Virginia there was a crazy news story about a state legislator who was attacked and injured by his very own son with a knife.  Sadly, his son was in dire need of mental health care but there were no beds available in the state system so he had to remain at home.  And that is where he came after his dad one day with a nice big butcher knife.  After the attack, his politician father went on the warpath to make sure that state resources would be available to meet mental health issues such as theirs.  As if it was a new issue.  Self interest.  Moves all.

Self interest.

Moves all.

And in the interest of full disclosure?  Honesty?  My own self interest?  I don’t want a cataclysmic health condition to either:  1) outright kill me because I can’t afford to go to the doctor for something that could easily save me or, 2) strip away all of my resources so that when I exit from the crisis I am a destitute pauper.

That’s all.

I apologize to my readers out there who come here for a light hearted view of life.  I apologize to any readers who would like to comment.  Like my post preceding the 2016 Presidential election, this post will also be closed for comment.  Chalk it up to my deep and abiding need to avoid conflict.  You can yell at me all you like.  I just don’t want people I care about to have to hear it, too.  🙂

(This post is dedicated to my three knights in shining armor:  Dr. Raymond L., Michael M., and Greg H.  Thank you for watching out for this old girl, each in your own way.)