Years ago, when I was in my teens, a close friend and neighbor of the family found out I was interested in roping. This knowledge was quickly followed by him giving me a few basic instructions on how to practice and a rope of my own. It was just a rough nylon rope, but it really made my day. I never did take the time to practice so I could hit a target. I do still remember the basics and I still have that rope because you never know when you might need one. 

That rope finally paid off this morning. I had Savannah set up eating breakfast and Caroline laying down. I was making the bed before I’d finally get a chance to change from my pjs. I heard a crash and went to look out the window in time to catch a flash of black that looked a lot like a calf. I grabbed socks and threw on a hoodie and muck boots. I got to the door in time to see the calf now over along the yard fence next to the lot where the herd was eating. Papa called to me and thankfully I was already together for going out. 

We got him cornered next to the feed lot and talked over what to do. I suggested my rope and Papa said to grab it. Once we had it, Papa slipped it over his head while I held the end further away in case the calf got the rope out of his hands. We first tried to flip him down and shove him under the fence. I think it would have worked, but I was concerned about not letting Papa hurt his back.

When that didn’t immediately work, I suggested taking him through the loading shoot about ten feet away. It was just a little further than the distance we had wrangled him along the fence, but this would be open space. Papa asked if I thought we could make it. I assured him and we proceeded to make our way. I held the loop around the calf’s neck to keep it secure but not tight and an arm around him just behind his front legs. Papa had this tail and encouraged him forward while I directed. 

Finally we made it into the shoot. Papa shut me in with the calf and walked around to open the other end. Of course, this is all with trying to not spook the calf more than he already is because he would have been even harder to handle. I got the rope off the calf and guided him out. I then had to guide him through the lot and around the edge of the gate so he could see where the herd was now. As he trotted to his mama, I gave Papa a high five and he closed the gate behind him. 

I am so thankful I kept that rope, but I hope we never have to use it again. At least the calf was still small. This is the same calf that was born this week and went missing the other morning. I told Papa he better fetch a good price for all the grief he had caused in just the first week of life. That’s the nature of raising calves though. 

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