Thursday, September 19, 2013
Through the process of working cows and calves, I figured out something about my job description. I am a Cowpoke. Yup. I don't know why I never thought about it before, but last night I went to bed with my arms and shoulders and armpits aching from poking up cows. It was then that it dawned on me where cowboys derived the name Cowpoke -- one who pokes cows and calves down an corral alley. I'm not totally sure that's where the name came from, but it makes sense to me. When the kids were home, they were the main cowpokes, and now that I'm the main help, I poke up calves. We don't have to poke the cows so much because they are older and smarter, and they know the routine that you "have to go in to get out." They've done it many times before, but the calves don't know squat. They only know they don't want to go. Instead, they back up or turn around or balk and do nothing. I have a particular poking stick that I use to get them moving -- it's not too long, not too short, and it's good and stiff. The last couple of days working cows, I nearly had to twist every single tail or poke each calf all the way up the alley. Let me tell you, these 51 year-old arms and shoulders are either getting stronger or weaker from being a cowpoke. Tonight I feel better than I did last night. Perhaps, then, I'm getting stronger.
I'm also the one to pour the cattle. That's what we still call it since long ago we used to have a dipping cup that measured out the insecticide to be poured on. It was nasty stuff called Warbex. We poured a cupful on each cow's back as it went down the alley. Nowadays we have a container with a gallon of ivermetin with a tube and a squirt handle on it. It's much improved over the dipper method for safety, but my hands get so tired of squeezing that squirt handle. I used my left hand as much as I could today to get it strengthened and to give my right hand a break.
That's what I do. I suppose there are other things a cowpoke does too. I'm an ever-ready helper when the men need a hand, and I love my job. This particular cowpoke cooks lunch after poking up cows, washes manure splattered blue jeans, shirts, and boots after poking cows, and gets to cuddle grandbabies when her work is done.
I'm also known to poke sheep up the sheep corrals, but I've never heard of a sheep-poke, have you?