Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grace and Pastry

We had our own protest movement that morning: Occupy Round Bale Feeder. Our little herd was rallying against greedy ranchers who store up alfalfa in haystacks, only feeding it to spoiled goats, while withholding it from the animals that do the real work on this ranch—the cows. The spokesperson for the herd, Princess, has a loud and insistent moo that’s hard to ignore, backed up by some of the most enchanting and persuasive big brown eyes to ever plead their case.

We’d been waiting for the ground to freeze and the recently established alfalfa and grasses to go dormant before turning out the cows; in the meantime, we’d been supplementing their shorter pasture with some lesser quality hay. Hubby has always fed the round bales with the tractor. Years ago, a guy I knew was killed in a freak tractor-round bale accident, so I was hesitant to volunteer for the job. But Hubby had been working off the ranch full-time, so I’d resolved to face my fears and help him. Princess and the other demonstrators were in full agreement with my decision.

Earlier that morning, I’d asked Hubby if I should wait until he got home from work so he could ride along with me while I fed the first time, but he’d said, “No, you’ll be okay.”

Well, it turns out that I was okay, even got the bale fed okay, but the two of the gates I drove through weren’t so okay! I’d driven the tractor now and then, but never with the terracing blade attached in the rear. I was so busy practicing with the round bale spear hydraulics that I never thought to check that the blade was lifted off the ground and turned diagonally so that it wouldn’t catch on every other gate I drove through! When I discovered the damage, I was so angry with myself, humiliated, and afraid of Hubby’s anger that I started crying and couldn’t stop. Bodie, my cowdog and right hand man, was wagging his tail slowly, looking worried.

When I reached Hubby on his cell and sobbed out the details of my disaster, he just laughed. “I guess you disliked my gates so much that you decided to just wipe them out!” he chuckled, referring to a recent column I’d written for The Western Farmer-Stockman ( “It’s okay. I know of a good fencing assistant,” he said, and then added when we signed off, “Love you.”

After that, I looked at Bodie and said, “Grace. That’s grace. We’ll have to bake that man some cookies today.” I did, and those cookies sure tasted better than the humble pie I'd eaten earlier.

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven.” Proverbs 17:9 NLT

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