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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

The Wild Ride

By Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge

During the second year of my marriage, my husband was offered a job on a cattle ranch in Eastern Colorado. Being a city girl born and bred, I was not thrilled at leaving my home at the foot of the Rockies for that barren, wind-swept part of the state. However, I was willing to give my outdoors-loving husband the kind of life he loved and I agreed to move with one caveat. He had to teach me to drive.

After moving to the ranch, he kept his part of the bargain and started giving me driving lessons. My few lessons consisted of starting and stopping a pick-up. This was a harrowing experience for my 'ever-lovin' as I kept forgetting to use the clutch. When I did remember it we lurched jerkily forward making my husband most irate. This, in turn, caused me to become more nervous and my marriage was in deep trouble. Before I mastered the art of a smooth start and stop, my lessons ceased because calving season was upon us.

If a mother cow refused to let her calf nurse (not all mothers are good ones), the cow and calf had to be driven to a corral where the new mom couldn't get away from her baby. This procedure involved herding the cow by horseback to the corral and transporting the young calf by car.

Lucky me! I was elected to drive the calf to the corral in the pick-up while my husband, on horseback, herded the cow to her destination. My heartless mate put the terrified calf in the cab of the pick-up beside me and merrily rode off into the sunset with his beast in tow.

I don't know which animal was more frightened, the calf or me. With trembling hands I started the motor with my foot on the accelerator. The sound of the motor terrified the calf and he started thrashing around ending up with his foot on top of my foot on top of the accelerator.

Like a lightening bolt we sped forward and were merrily flying over the turf. Now the prairies may look level, but they are full of hidden holes and gullies. If you can picture me, a novice, behind the wheel trying, with one hand, to get the calves foot off of mine while navigating the vehicle around big dips that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere you might have some idea of the state of panic I was in. The calf continued trying to extricate itself from the horrible machine that had it trapped.

An adrenalin rush must have saved me as I arrived at the corral with all intact.

When my cowboy husband arrived with the mom he noticed the blood in my eye. He simply couldn't understand what was so difficult about driving a calf to dinner. I'm sure you can believe me when I tell you that he soon found out.

Life on the ranch was short lived. Morning sickness convinced me that I was not about to go through nine months without indoor plumbing and, mercifully, we moved back to town.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:27 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow!!!!!!!! I think I would have been forgetting I was a lady by the time I got the dang calf home! The things we do for love, huh? And I remember when my then husband taught me to drive a stick shift -- I laid down the rule that he was not allowed to holler at me remembering my dad teaching my mom to drive and it wasn't pretty.

This is great, Darlene! I really enjoyed it?

I think you came out of that better than I would have Darlene. Sometimes the ones we love the most put us in the most stressful situations. I'm sure lessons were learned by everyone that day. Great story.

I cannot imagine having to do that! I enjopyed reading this Darlene, and I trust that you are happily ensconced in a city, and know how to drive well now....LOL

I would SO have been stuck with a broken azle somewhere, with a starving calf and a husband out trying to herd me!

It's amazing what we can do when we have to, isn't it?

Bravo. Oh, what a harrowing experience written of so well.

Thank you for your comments and kind words.

I can so see this scene with the frightened calf and the far more harried transport driver!

Oh, and I know all about pasture driving; made my back jar to remember!

Great story and well told. Reminded me of some of my early driving experiences on my uncle's farm, then the manner in which I was given my first driver's license years later. As for farm life without some of the finer accommodations of life, i.e. plumbing, I prefer to not do without that, too. But calves are cute, and cows can be so loving, if you have just a few and they become like pets.

Darlene, your story was so well written I felt I was there with you.

I learned to drive on a stick shift car and I hated it. We soon got a car with automatic transmission.

Hello Darlene,

I enjoyed your well written story so much. It took me back to the day in 1949 when my boyfriend decided to teach me how to drive.Of course he had a stick shift car and I had never driven before.He didn't take me to an old back road or a school yard to practice. No, he took me to one of the busiest streets in Philadelphia. It was Memorial Day and all along the city streets there were kids on bikes, decorated wagons, veteran's parades, and hundreds of people headed for picnics.
The car jerked and bucked as I learned to use the clutch and gear shift and dodging all of the above made my lesson very challenging. As I finished my first session, I was shaken but proud. The car had no dents and nobody died. Then I heard it, the 21 gun salute coming from the veteran's parade. I felt it was meant for me and I deserved it!

Nancy, you deserved a medal. I hope you dumped that insensitive boyfriend. He certainly showed a lack of good judgment. Your experience was worse than mine.

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