So much for the fifty-five degrees and sunny the weatherman had promised for shipping day.
Didn’t help that we were on what I knew was probably a fool’s errand. Chances that any cattle would be in the west pasture were slim. But I didn’t dare assume. First time I didn’t bother to check would be the time a couple of cows were lounging down in the coulee with their big steer calves at their sides.
So Nico and I fought the wind and the rain across the flat, down through the coulee, up the other side to the top of the rise, so I could see clear to the north fence.
We wasted no time swapping directions and putting the wind at our backs. As we trotted along the fence, skirted a bog, and jogged through the gate into the east pasture, the rain buckled down and got serious. I yanked up the hood on my Carhartt jacket and cinched it under my chin. There was nothing I could do about the icy water pooling on the back of my saddle and trickling down into the seat to soak my butt. My thighs were already wet clear through my jeans and long underwear.
I hadn’t even chased a cow yet.
The John Deere tractor rumbled over the hill from the house, lugging a round bale. My husband, no doubt chuckling and patting himself of the back for agreeing the night before to let me ride instead of driving the tractor. He would lead the way, hoping the cows would follow breakfast right to the corral.
The cows moved along pretty good until we hit the corner and tried to turn west. They took three steps into the teeth of the wind and mutinied. By then, my gloves were soaked clear through. My hands turned to cramped popsicles as we all trotted back and forth, shouting and coaxing and cursing at the reluctant herd.
And the rain stopped.
A patch of sky cleared, golden sunlight streamed through. The cows turned, suddenly cooperative. As we topped the last hill, the rainbow reappeared, curving ahead of us, right to the corral where we would sort of the calves to sell.
Despite the wind cutting through my wet clothes, I had to smile. It seemed fitting. Shipping day is as close to a pot of gold as a rancher ever gets.
Hauling a load to the scales.
A snow squall hit as I pulled out with my second load.
Trucks waiting at my aunt's scales, lined up and ready to head for Nebraska.