When I invite friends over to the Ranch for the first time, part of my directions include, “when you go over the cattle guard you’ve made it”. Finally, I had a friend that asked me what in the heck was I talking about? What was a cattle guard?
I sometimes take for granted that people know what things like cattle guards, chinks, and emasculators are. In the world I grew up in, these things were normal, everyday items that I really never thought twice about. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth grade when I realized I was just a whisper different than my peers. They didn’t have bottle calves, go on cattle drives or live on ranches. Unfortunately, my peers also realized I wasn’t normal about this time and made sure I was aware of that too.
Fast forward about 20 years, and suddenly knowing your farmer is cool! The same kids that made me cry in high school now are on my beef buying waiting list. I was bullied and picked on a lot as a kid, because of my passion for agriculture. It got to the point where I changed schools, didn’t wear any western clothes at school, never listened to country music, and asked those friends who knew about the Ranch to please not talk about it. As always though, I was my own worst enemy, someone would bring something up in science class, and I would have to tell a Ranch story, forever dooming me to un-popular kid hell.
Oh you want an example? In 8th grade science class I shared about a two headed calf that had been born on the Ranch when I was a kid. One of my Great Aunts had it mounted and put it on her wall, so the visual of the calf really stayed with me, plus it was cool! So I shared that story with my class, thinking it was awesome. Mistake.
Couple weeks later, we were learning about space, so I shared with my class about a story I read in the History of Butte County book, about a meteor that landed on the Ranch during the 1800’s. Again, to me, this stuff was interesting! To a bunch of 8th graders its perfect fodder to make someone’s life hell for the next four years.
Almost every day for the duration of my high school experience someone would tease me about that time a meteor landed on my two headed calf. When I graduated from high school and they told our senior fortunes, it was determined that I was going to grow up and implement a breeding program for two-headed calves. It never stopped.
Luckily, high school is over and instead of being a popular kid, I internalized my experiences and tilled an emotional garden of personality awesomeness that would serve me well in adult life, while the former popular kids changed my car’s oil and serve me my morning coffee. Now that I am an adult I realize that most people lash out because of one of two things; jealously or fear. And kids are just mean.
Anyway I realized that by sharing about the Ranch, I can do a lot to diminish people’s fear, at least about their food supply. If you haven’t noticed I try to make this blog educational sometimes. In that spirit, I’m going to try and blog about things that are normal to me, but might be odd to some of you. The first being the cattle guard.
A cattle guard is used instead of a gate to prevent the animals from getting out of their enclosures. It’s usually in an area of high traffic so you don’t have to open and close a gate all the time. Around here (Northern CA) you will see them where public grazing is allowed or in driveways, like ours!
Basically to an animal they look really scary and they don’t like to come near them. However over the years I have seen a scared calf try to jump over one, he made it. But I have seen some cattle and horses not get so lucky and get stuck, getting stuck generally means a broken leg, not good.
So now when someone says cattle guard you know what they are talking about!