Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Fall’s coming on | TSLN.com

Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Fall’s coming on

It's shippin' time! Words and photo by Heather Hamilton-Maude

Fall's coming on and it's quarter til four

Everyone's up, headed out the door

Horses are saddled and trailers are hooked.

It's a long drive before a long ride can be took

Hours later, bleary eyed kids stumble out with a yawn

Cinches are tightened and riders swing on

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The wish for long johns is no longer a joke

And those on a colt will soon know if he's broke

When the sun graces the earth with her rosy glow

They're on the backside, hunting cows high and low

There's a sheen to the sage that's more frost than dew

Its scent pairs nicely with the occasional moo

The calves are big and rather curious fellows

While compared to June, their moms are quite mellow

Toward the corral, they cruise right along

Except one gimpy bull someone gets to bump along

Puffs of white mark each breath

As over the last hill the bunch does crest

They pour down the other side in a sea of black

Not a single cow bothers to look back

Gates are shut, others opened

Sticks in hand they commence to sorting

In and by, bunch by bunch

With only a short pause when the bull shows up

If all goes well this is followed by lunch

But if not, everyone just sucks it up

Only hell or high water prevents being ready for trucks

Or the occasional unlatched gate, dang the luck

In they roll with a chorus of brakes and dust

Followed by a brief cuss and discuss

Talking numbers, weather, markets and weights

Until someone emerges with a scribbled update

Twelve, eighteen, eighteen and twelve

On they go with a rattle and yell

Gates slam shut and the back door drops

Still be best to count them off

Down the road goes truck after truck

And for five whole minutes the rancher's caught up

Then home he goes to meet the mess

Which is all laid out to reduce calf stress

Thanks are given to the crew for their help

Fifteen hours after they showed up

Checking the calves and making sure the tank isn't low

Precedes unsaddling his horse by the barn light's glow

Whether good or bad the year is now complete

His life's endeavor, bawling and pacing between stops to eat

Before hitting the light and patting his horse on the rump

He prays God watches over those calves til sun up

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