I have recently fallen hard for a wonderful blog called Magic in the Backyard by a very talented Southern writer, Kellie Elmore. The blog is also the title of her first book due to be released in 10 days. I came to WordPress with the intention to write a book and I am inspired by the number of people who are out here and succeeding at this unconventional method.
Kellie has a wonderful component of her blog called Free Write Friday where Kellie posts something on the subject of the day and we as fellow writers blog on that subject without stopping, without correcting punctuation or grammar to see where the free-flow of ideas will take us. I am going to participate in this today and I will follow the rules. All of my grammarian readers out there I always appreciate your edits and if you wouldn’t mind refraining today whilst I complete this exercise.
Todays FWF is …and the cow says. I am even going to write this before I eat breakfast so God knows what is coming. I hope you all will find something to take with you here and please consider joining the party as there are no rules on timing or which post suggestion you attempt.
You… are a cow.
You, the cow, have a story to tell.
Chew on that a minute then…
tell me something good.
Elsie came to Grasshopper Ranch in 1985. I didn’t think much of Elsie at first as she never seemed a fit for life on the Ranch. When the trailer arrived with the newbies, fish as we call them, the girls and I mad bets on which one of these Colorado cows would breakdown first. I had my money on Elsie. She was lean, taller than the others and seemed unsure of her own gait. Life on a ranch could be difficult for a cow that grew up just a mile down the road, but for a cow from Colorado life on a ranch in Texas was often too much to bear.
I don’t think politics ever crossed her mind though, but I know the heat did. Being a cow who could get things I figured old Elsie would be saddling up to me soon. The flies in summer were like anti-aircraft fire and those without the tails to swat these pests of pestilence would be in for a long 5 months.
Elsie’s tail was short and without the usual fan of hair on the end and the girls and I knew she would moo out in the evening when the flies got to be too much.
That first night the biggest cow of the new herd mooed deep into the night, but Elsie never made a sound. She kept to herself and with methodical rhythm like a metronome her sallow little tail swayed to and fro. I could not help but wonder how she grew so adept,but there were many things about Elsie I would grow to understand over the years and eventually none of them surprised me.
The Rancher and his goons came down the next morning to prepare the new herd to join with us. Their needles and contraptions of torture set off the usual scuffling of hooves, moos, and falls. The Rancher was not a man of God but a man of the town. We all could tell he was good to us and we got to graze where so many others were only fenced and watching the best grass go to the pretty horses.
I remember that first day after the release, how Elsie sat along the fence and just watched the horses dance in their way. I took my time to observe the new herd over the next few days during feeding, watering, and especially during herding with the little satan of a dog charlie. What the hell can we do with this little monster nipping at our heels cried one of the newbies. Elsie spoke up and said, “we follow their rules but we create our own paths. we are not here in Grasshopper because we are considered extraordinary, we are we here because we are considered tasty”
No one ever mentions “the day” around grasshopper, no one. But Elsie did and she knew why, because Elsie had no intention of staying here at Grashopper.
I knew then it was time for me to say hello. I walked up to the fence where Elsie stared out at the horses and spoke
Angus – I hear your name’s Elsie
Elsie – you hear many things?
Angus – more than I want to
Elsie – you seem like a woman who knows how to get things
Angus – I have been known to come up with a few things; corn cobs, fermented cud, fly paper, a..
Elsie – do you know what bolt cutters are?
Angus – I may have seen a few lying round when the goons are working on the fence. You think you can just cut the fence and run from here?
Elsie – I never said what they were for
Angus – no you didn’t
I knew Elsie was not like the other Baldies the Rancher had brought to grasshopper. Why even the day the goons cornered here near the watering hole and chased her with their cars Elsie simply avoided and mooed to appear as dumb as the rest of us. At night she kept to herself working on the puzzles in her mind
When I got the bolt cutters she wanted me and old Red the bull helped Elsie to cut the lock on the barn. She never intended to leave Grasshopper she just wanted to make it better.
BY the third night at least 10 of us were in the barn at once playing pool and poker while listening to old Frank Sinatra records on the Victrola. What joy Elsie brought to Grasshopper, but we knew it was too good to be true.
Winter was coming and Elsie’s ways of leisure had brought her weight gain straight to the top. When I tried to tell her that slowing down on the hay was the only way to stay alive, she ignored me.
I think Elsie knew that life for a cow was short and if it was then why not make it sweet.
I had done my best to starve all these years knowing I would not make the cut at the sale barn.
I thought I was the clever cow who would outlive his peers and brag to the world that I am still here.
When Elsie mooed her head goodbye as that old gooseneck trailer pulled out of grasshopper ranch. I knew I would never see my friend again. The goons always got a cut of the sale and on this day the price would be the highest ever.
I know Elsie was the happiest cow to ever leave Grasshopper and some lucky son of a bitch would put a bullet in her today and feed from the flesh of the best friend I ever had.
The next morning in the cover of pre-dawn I took the bolt cutters to the newest section of fence and I cut my way out of Grasshopper. I followed the horse paths the old men would take when they take their preening equines for rides of pleasure. Elsie had shown me these paths in our days watching the fields.
I walked till I couldn’t see any more and cars just ignored me along the road. I lay lain down in the mud of a pond’s edge to cover my brand and I ripped my ear tag off on a long metal fence joint.
I assumed they would find me after a while. I didn’t care. Today my life was finally going to be about me and I was so glad to know the end would come soon
It did not. A petting zoo is not exactly Valhalla for a cow, but for the 16 hours each day the humans are not here it is one of the best places once could be.
As the last toddler leaves my back each day I think of Elsie and I smile. She came to grasshopper with an exit strategy and it worked. Sure, she was sirloin for a plumber, and a fillet for a banker. Her beautiful white face was sullied with her own iron-rich blood as she convulsed in her final throes. I like to believe she never felt a thing and that I will always remember her like I did that morning before she broke the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.