Early Monday morning, mom woke me up to hug me goodbye and left for the airport. Grandma and Grandpa were already up so I stayed up and had my usual breakfast of Cheerios. Grandma offered me bacon and eggs but, ewww!
“I’m heading up to finish checking the fences.” Grandpa told me. “Ya’ wanna come with?”
“Sure” I mumbled. I had nothing better to do. I got my shoes on and climbed up into the passenger side of his big old pick up. We headed up the driveway which turned into a mud track through the fields behind the barn. It had rained last night, and everything sparkled. Everything except the mud that was splattering on the windows. Grandpa gunned it through a long mud puddle and threw lots of muddy water out both sides of the road. I giggled. He glanced at me and smiled a sly grin.
“Don’t let Grandma know I did that.” He said with an even wider grin.
“I think the mud all over the truck is going to tell on you.”
He laughed and said, “You’re probably right. I don’t think she would really care anyways; at least not too much.”
We reached the top of the ridge and turned left. There was a barbed wire fence and we rode close beside it.
“I checked the lower half on Friday before I hit that big rock that messed up the skid plate. And there’s some work there.” He stopped the truck next to a tree that had fallen across the fence. We hopped out and he grabbed a chainsaw from the back of the truck. As soon as he fired it up, I covered my ears and backed away. I hated loud noises. As I backed away, I kept my eyes on him and the branches that fell quickly away. The sky whirled as I flew backwards, my rear landing with a muddy squish-thud. Since I wasn’t looking behind me, I had tripped. I turned around to get up and froze. Not 10 feet from me was a huge bull! Yes, I said bull. This really happened! I quickly and carefully ran back over to Grandpa. Thankfully, he was almost done cutting the branches and I only had to wait a few seconds for him to shut off the saw.
I frantically pointed towards the bull, expecting him to panic. “Aw Buck! What are you doing over here again?” He asked the bull. Then to me he said, “This is why we have to keep the fences fixed up. He won’t hurt us, but he scares the sheep and harasses my milk cow in the barn.” He then pulled a long white pole with a pointy end out of the back of the truck. “I got a job for you” he said with a sly grin. “This is a prod. You poke the bull with it to get it to go where you want it to. Just guide it down through the fields, out the driveway, and turn left. He belongs on the next farm, the Vaughn’s. I’ll phone Ken and let him know you’re coming.”
I shook my head and backed away. “There no way I can do that!” I almost tripped again backing away from the prod.
“Sure you can. He’ll go wherever you prod him to.”
“But he’s ten times my size.”
“His brain isn’t. You’ll do just fine. I’d have Hank do it but he’s got to get going to work at the hardware store in a few minutes and I’ve got to finish mending this fence, so Buck can’t get back over. If Ken’s home, he’ll meet you on the road.”
“What if he’s not?”
“Then just put Buck in the corral by the barn. And Ken will take care of it when he gets back. Sara or Hannah can probably help too.”
And that’s how I found myself holding a cattle prod standing in the upper fields of Grandpa’s farm facing a huge bull. I gently poked it in the side and, surprisingly, he started moving down the hill. Before long I was prodding him past the barn and into the driveway when a tall skinny blonde man came out of the mobile home.
“Well don’t that beat all!” Hank whistled. “never thought I’d see a city boy prodding old Buck.” Hank reached a tattooed arm out to me and introduced himself. “Sorry I missed meeting you earlier. I was feelin’ awful yesterday. Cain’t say that I’m all better today but I gotta work. Lemme show ya somethin’.” Hank reached for the prod. He tapped the prod on the bull’s haunches and it started walking again. “Jus’ tap it real gentle like and he’ll obey. Whatever you do, don’t prod him in the face or he’ll get mad. He knows what it feels like to get poked by that thing so alls you gotta do is remind him that you hold the prod and you’re not afraid to use it.”
“Thanks,” I said as he handed the prod back. I had kind of hoped that he would take over for me. On the other hand, it was kind of cool to be able to control this great big animal. Hank helped me with the gate as he headed to work. I somehow managed to prod Buck back to his farm, though he did try to go the wrong way at the road.
When I arrived at the Vaughn’s farm, a tall girl with long brown hair scolded Buck. “Buck, why do you keep wandering off like that?!” She guided him without using a prod into the barn and into his stall where a younger blonde girl, about my age, closed and latched the stall gate.
“Thanks” the younger one said. “I’m Hannah and this is my dorky sister Sara.”
Sara gave her a playful hit and said, “Thanks again. I think Buck is sweet on y’alls milk cow so he keeps busting through the fence. And for the record, Hannah’s the dorky one. Dad should be back any time now. He just had an appointment with a pregnant sow.” When Sara saw the confused look on my face, she offered, “He’s a veterinarian. He takes care of most of the farm animals around Kerryville.
Then Hannah piped in, “Would you like to see my rabbits?”
I should mention that I am very awkward, especially around girls. You may have noticed that I had not said anything yet. I think I felt my face burning as I stammered through, “I think Grandpa wants me back to help him.” I had already started towards the barn door.
“Nice pants!” Hannah called after me.
To my horror, I realized that the seat of my sweat pants (I can’t stand the feel of jeans) was covered with mud. I ran the rest of the way back to the farm.
Fortunately, that was the most excitement for the week. I helped Grandpa with some chores and stayed in the house playing my games that did not require the internet. I was really missing You-Tube. Any day now.