Working Cattle with a Decimal

Before I met Marc, I had no idea what "working cattle" meant... and if I'm honest I probably still don't know what all is involved in sending cattle through a chute. Heck, I didn't even know what a "chute" was. I didn't know the difference between a steer and a cow and a heifer.  

So with that shining reputation in mind, you can now read the following with the knowledge of my abilities and therefore NOT judge me. Too harshly anyways.

It was a cloudy Wednesday morning and my very first morning working cattle! It was early so I was wearing some extra glamorous leggings, an old college t-shirt, a Co-op ball cap, and some polka dot muck boots. Okay, if I'm honest I wear that even when I don't have to get up early. Comfort is key.

I was feeling pretty good about my cattle-driving clad self as we drove over to the farm to run the cattle through the chute. I felt pretty good, until I was surrounded by mooing mama cows, mooing calves, and a mooing bull. You got it, lots of loud mooing. Which I never thought would be intimidating. When you ask your 2 year old niece what a cow says, "mooOOoo" sounds so cute. When you make cows mad and they "MOOOO"... it's downright frightening!

Not only were all the cows letting us know how they all felt, moving cows through pens and into the chute sets up a semi-tense environment. Or maybe it just feels that way for a newbie country girl... regardless, I was feeling tense, from my ball cap all the way down to my newly manured boots.

I was given a very important job. I was going to write down each cow's number and weight when they were in the chute getting shots and fly spray and whatnot. I tried to stay out of the way as much as possible so that Marc and Kirk could work. I stood to the side of the shed, and peeked my head around to see the scale and jot down the weight with each new cow. 

"Number 23, 109.0 lbs" I wrote.
"Number 18, 89.5 lbs"... and the list continued with the cows weighing anywhere between 80 and 110 pounds. 

Kirk turned to me after one particularly large mama cow exited the chute, "How much did she weigh?" He asked. 

"104.5 pounds," I stated, very mater-of-factly. My job was important, I was finally giving some valuable information. But I thought his response was odd. Instead of commenting on how big she was or his surprise at the number, he gave me a second glance and then turned to work the next cow in line. 

I continued in my job for around 10 cows when Marc came up and questioned me on how much Number 26 weighed. So I told him some number with the decimal. Without stopping he sort of chuckled and called over his shoulder on the way to vaccinate the cow in the chute, "There is no decimal on the scale."

"Yes there is!" I retorted, very confident in my ability to read an analog scale. I wasn't an idiot! 

"No way that cow weighs a hundred pounds, babe." He said as he moved more cattle into line in front of the chute. 

"Oh." Was all I muttered as I looked at my list. Then I walked up close to the scale to see either a glitch in the scale, or manure, or a smashed gnat... whatever it was looked deceivingly like a decimal point from my little corner of the shed. 

I rolled my eyes at myself and felt like that smashed gnat. I was so tense about doing my job right and staying out of the way, that I wasn't thinking logically about how much a cow would weigh... What would a suburban girl care how much a dumb cow weighed anyways?

So... I'm not the best when I make mistakes like that. Typically very hard on myself. (please know I don't think cows are dumb... Marc, that was for you if you read this. I was just upset) BUT now I think its hilarious and I told Marc this last time we worked the calves that I would make sure to include the decimal point again. ;)