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by Kim and Kari Baker


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Runnin' Moonshine

Kim and Kari Baker

Well, it appears that we've got a new occupation....runnin' Moonshine! Now hold on. Before yuh expect a nip at the bottle, yuh gotta set down and listen to our tale.... If'n after our tale yuh still want some Moonshine, well, by all means.

The day started out fantastic...got up in the mornin' and saw that we had another new calf. Our ol' Black Angus cow Spooky produced a nice solid black bull calf for us...we've named him Blacksmith - Figure we'll call him Smitty for short.

Anyhow, the day flowed on in good form. We gotta say that the weather is so unlike our usual February snow and ice - instead we're experiencin' spring in northwest Montana. Actually we've had spring pert near all winter...or has it been fall?...what the hey, its just been a ridiculously mild winter here. But at least we're havin' perfect weather for calvin'. On top of that, we've enjoyed the magnificently bright moon each night as we trek out through the cow pasture to check on calves.

This evenin' when we went out to hay the stock, our dad and a visitin'  friend of his wanted to go see all the new calves so they trailed us out. While we trekked off to the hay barn, dad an' his friend sauntered up to the pasture fence to view the calves.

The mama cows politely showed off their babies to the curious onlookers while we fed hay out to the east herd of horses and the three old mares in the barn yard. Then we brought hay out to the cows who had begun to bawl in an attempt to remind us that they had not yet been fed.

While we busily doled out the hay, a two day old black baldy heifer seemed to become a bit confused about where her mama was and started lopin' sorta helter-skelter through the pasture. Awe cute little thing, ain't she? We weren't too concerned about her - shucks, we figured she an' mama would work it out as they usually do, so we set our minds on wrestlin' with little Smitty. We needed to band him (that's the modern way of makin' a bull into a steer).  Well, seems Smitty wanted to keep his jewels so's every time we tried to put the bander on him he kept a sittin' down. Finally we decided to put him on the ground and commenced to sit on top of him rather than do him in the standin' position. 

In the mean time the lost little heifer managed to climb through the fence into the round pen, then back out, but instead of headin' back to the herd she made a beeline for the pasture fence line an' beyond to the west ridge. Dad is a watchin' her real careful an' see's that she has managed to climb through the barbwire fence an' then vanished into the forest.

Now right here we got to tell yuh that cows ain't the smartest of creatures the good lord has placed on this here earth.  Fact is they're the most simple minded critters we know. Sometimes this is a good thing...other times, well shoot things can plumb go from bad to worse. This 'un was of the latter sort.

Once we finished up with bandin' Smitty, the bull calf, we headed off to help dad look for our wayward heifer. While we had been busy with the bandin' dad had hiked north along the fence line hopin' that she hadn't gone too far, but after not spottin' her he took off up the west ridge toppin' out on one of the loggin' trails.  Not long after he headed southward along the ridge, he called out that he had spied her. She was just below him and was stymied.  Her little calve legs had become tangled in brush as she attempted to scale the steeply wooded slope.  A few moments after dad had spotted her, she in turn spots dad lookin' down from the skid trail above her.  So with a burst of energy the little heifer turned back down the ridge, tumblin' and fallin' over brush and logs.  A shout from dad told us that the calf was headed for home.

Wrong. Suddenly, the darn little heifer breaks out of the woods but is headed south....oh but the good news is, is that dad's friend is standin' right smack dab in the heifer's path so we're thinkin' great, she can turn the heifer back toward us then we can haze her back through the pasture fence in the general direction of mama cow.

Now we really can't fault this lady. She ain't a rancher by no stretch a the word, so when the heifer came up to her she just put out her hand an' petted her as the heifer slipped right on by. That was as close as anyone had managed to get to her since this wild doggie roundup begun. (Sigh).

Directly the little heifer slips through another barbwire fence enterin' the south pasture. With open ground out ahead of her she picks a fair amount of speed so is makin' good time on her run south....we're thinkin' that she must be headed for Texas.  Presently we're wishin' we had a horse under us, but we also realized that seein' as how she's a little Houdini, if'n we were a horse back we'd need steeplechasers to get on the other side of all them fences that she has a special knack of slippin' through. So all we can do is hoof it, that is foot it as fast as we can whilst at the same time tryin' to swing wide so's to get out a head of her and swing her back toward home.

Well, if'n she was a race horse we'd sure as shootin' put our money on her! Not only did we trail her down through our south pasture, but on through the neighbor's pasture as well. Luckily an' with another gal's help who just happened to be drivin' out of the neighbor's lane at the right moment, we managed to point the heifer back through first one fence then another, 'till we had her headed back up through our south pasture, an' were on a fairly steady course for home pasture....that is if she doesn't over shoot an' she heads for Canada.

It wasn't long 'till we made it to where we were in proper site of the south corral an' other ranch buildin's....halleluiah we're almost home!  Well except for the new roadblock - a dandy of a dust storm caused by the poundin' hooves of a small herd of uneasy horses. The horses had been carefully watchin' our pursuit down through their pasture, but now that the little black heifer was makin' a beeline back in their direction the horses weren't all too anxious to stick 'round to see the outcome of the race. With tails an' heads held high an' nostrils flarin', the knot of horses danced 'round in utter confusion, no horse apparently willing to take the lead.

Of course now our little heifer spies the foolish horses an' understandably decides to make a quick right turn slippin' through yet another fence line, an' into the pump house pasture. We're still a puffin' trailin' along behind an' seein' that she's set a brand new course we follow suit, swingin' wide to haze her back north. Without too much difficulty we get her turned north again. Poor little thing was finally gettin' as tuckered out as we were so when she came up to the next fence line she didn't immediately climb through, thus giviní us the opportunity to close the gap.

At this point we think "great now we can drop a rope on this little calf an' drag her back to her mama," so we each shake out our lariats (which we've been carryin' along with us throughout the chase) an' go to buildin' a loop.  As we move up on her easy, tryin' to get within ropin' distance the little heifer finds renewed energy so Kari quickly sets a rope into action an' settles a loop neatly over the calf's head, but the little devil manages to run right on through the loop before Kari can pull out the slack. Dadgum! Okay the cute little calf ain't really a devil, but 'bout this time we can't help but see red.

Back on the run the heifer has turned south once again an' our hearts sink for there is no way for us to get up ahead of her to turn her back.  Our  Dad's friend has obviously been watchin' our bizarre roundup so has moseyed on over to the pump house fence so's not to miss a thing.  She was a grinnin' like a possum eatin' a yellowjacket so we knew that we'd been  providin' our guest with an excitin' bit of ranch entertainment that she would take back an' share with all of her city friends....oh good lord help us!

Well, low and behold we luck out. The three pump house pasture horses are smack dab in the heifers path an' as she runs into 'em there's so much confusion that we lost track of the calf, but the next thing we knew good ol' Hoot was actually chasin' her back toward us.  At a way Hoot!

This time Kim makes a quick toss with her rope an' catches the heifer by the hind legs, but once again the little rascal slips free an' is on her way. This time she was headed north an' she was swiftly through the fence where she has now the east herd of horses dancin' and snortin' in their attempt to flee the little black banshee. (Some kind of cow horses we have, huh?)  So anyway, we trail after her, on through the fence an' out into the east pasture swingin' wide again so's to try to point her west, which she obliged an' the next fence line is home. There waitin' for her is mama cow, expectant as a robin standin' over a worm hole, but also mad as a rained on rooster at us for takin' her baby on such a frightenin' flight across the country.

Oh, by the way, did we tell yuh that the little bunch quitter's name is Moonshine?   So there yuh go.....we've been runnin' Moonshine.

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