After being married to a cowboy several seasons of my life, there is one critical rule I have learned.
***ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATES****
It may be the most important lesson ever needed to be learned by green cowhands. (meaning me)
The ranch is divided into pastures by fences and gates. The fences are very important and serve many purposes.
The fences keep calves away from the mama cows after being weaned so they don’t get back on the tit.
The fences keep the bulls out of the cows when there shouldn’t be any hanky-panky going on.
The fences keep the neighbor’s bull out of the cows when you don’t want a black calf in amongst your red ones.
The fences keep all the cows out of an over-grazed pasture when it needs resting from the cows eating the grass too short.
And the gates help move all these animals around from pasture to pasture. In and out, in and out.
An open gate, on the other hand, allows for the cattle to meander wherever they choose, in wrong pastures, mingling with the opposite sexes, reeking havoc on a cattle ranch and making a cowboy who has to sort them all out, very grumpy.
The cardinal rule of cowboying (among many others) is
ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE.
Many times have I heard the complaint from my beloved of how somebody left the bleepity, bleep gate open and made a mess for him to straighten out.
It has been ingrained in my head ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE.
I went out with Jason for a little job this past weekend. He needed to gather up about 20 cows and pen them. This entails getting horseback and pushing cattle (cattle that don’t always want to go the direction you want them to) from one pasture, through a gate, into another pasture, through another gate, into the cow pens.
My mission if I choose to accept it:
Jason to me: I’m going to go gather the cattle over in this pasture. You need to go up this road to the east. You’ll come to a green gate. Go through the gate, make a left hand turn to the north, open the white gate running east and west. Open it into the trap.
And then he rides off.
Me: But?…..what?……Jason? (wondering) Which direction is north? Did he say open the green gate or the white one? Was I supposed to go up an east road or a north one, open an east gate or a west one? When did he learn to speak Swahilian? Remember Angel, Always close the gates, always close the gates, always close the gates.
I decide I’ll figure it out when I get there.
And so begins my journey.
I travel where the turkeys have trekked.
I meet a wounded comrade.
He is grateful for my assistance.
I reach the green gate and pass through.
And then there are two. Two gates. Which one am I supposed to open? The north one? The east one? I scan the horizon for Jason. He is nowhere to be seen.
Am I supposed to open this gate?
Or this gate?
I can’t remember what he said. My heart is racing. My palms are sweaty. Oh the repercussions I will face if I open the wrong gate and let cattle in the wrong pasture. I say a silent prayer, toss a coin, draw a straw, open a gate and hope for the best.
Then I leave the way I came, out the green gate.
Remembering to latch it up securely.
Then Jason arrives with the cattle, pushing them along the fence line.
They make the turn, through the east/west gate opened up to the north or something like that.
Basically, I did it right!!! Yea me!!
In they come.
A little further.
I opened the correct gate into the correct trap, and Jason penned the cattle. All went just as planned.
Well, except for when the cows took notice of me.
See them staring at me. I’ve been spotted.
They’ve noticed me and it has caused alarm to their bovine brains. So they do what cows do.
They head back out the gate they just came through and run down the fence line in the opposite direction.
And Jason has to, well, uh, he has to do his job all over again and turn them around and bring them back down the fence line and in through the gate. Again.
Then Jason spent the rest of his time either opening a gate.
Or closing a gate.
Or opening a gate.
Or closing a gate.
And fixing the green gate I didn’t latch correctly.
But I helped a bug.
That’s a noteworthy achievement, right?