Home on the Range - Memories may vary

by Karen Hamilton

Disclaimer: Memories may vary…
“Oh yeah, they’ve been in a trailer, had a rope around their necks, and they’re weaned.” None of the preceding statements were true, and dad was there that day to load them up, take them away from their mamas, and castrate them while they had them caught.
Two yearling bulls, now steers, loaded in a borrowed trailer to be brought to the pasture at my grandparent’s house, the summer I was 12. In my few short years of walking this earth, I had never felt closer to being a cowgirl, or at least a farmer.
The one steer managed to throw himself around so much in the trailer that he was on his back for most of the ride. Dad pulled into the pasture, threw the trailer door open and got out of the way. They were soon grazing.
Not long afterwards, maybe a day or two, after they healed up a bit, the steers decided they didn’t care to be fenced in. They went for a stroll. Down grandma and grandpa’s driveway. Then down Highway 21.
“Dan, your cows are on the highway” the sheriff said when they called dad at work. Dad promptly left work to chase the wandering steers. We heard the story at dinner that night, I was offended I wasn’t picked up from school to help chase the steers down the side of the highway.
Perhaps they got out once more, maybe twice… but Dad had had enough. Asked his friend Bruce to come out and stand guard… handing him a pistol, “They go through the fence, drop them. I’ll be back”
Dad went up the road to a neighbor’s, and negotiated the use of a small cinderblock barn they had on the property. The steers would be housed there for the duration of their lives.
My brothers and I bickered daily on who got to go with Dad to do “cow chores”… these silly steers had their meals brought to them, and full housekeeping services, all because they didn’t respect fences.
I think Mom named them Steak and Hamburger.