Spring's Gate Girl

In Iowa over spring break, I volunteered to be Dad's gate-girl one chilly morning. It's not a glamorous job. I just needed layers of clothes, jersey gloves, and good boots. Knowing the difference between an electric fence and a barbed wire fence was also helpful. Call it innate Iowa wisdom: You grab electric once as a child, and the knowledge stays with you for life.

This was my vehicle for the morning. I got to drive the Ranger, which I thought was pretty cool.

...Until I gave it some gas. Then it was darn cold. Although it was a sunny morning, the temp was 40 degrees and the wind was gusting at 20+ mph, throwing the relative temp to around freezing.

This was Dad's farm implement for the morning. The skid-loader.

Each vehicle was well-suited for each of our jobs. I had easy on-and-off access to open and close gates as we made our way to the field where the cattle were eager to eat. Dad's had a loader on the front to scoop silage from the pile and dump it into the feeders.

After 15 minutes watching Dad drive back and forth with load after load of silage, I realized Dad was driving the Cadillac. I was driving the Ford Pinto. Dad's was encased in windows with a heater and had slick tracks that let it glide over the mud and slop. Mine had wheels that slipped into and shuddered in the slop, reminiscent of the golf cart on the bog. (Remember "How about an 8 Iron?" ?) So, I made tracks a little like this.

Yet even with my under-insulated, spinning jalopy, I loved it. In my Ranger, I circled the cows and baby calves. Most are Angus, but there are a few few white-faced Herefords. Taking pictures is tricky as the Angus are solid black. If they are standing together, they photograph as one furry blob.

But up close...

...huggable little blobs of fur.

Thanks for letting me drive the Pinto, Dad.

(As luck would have it, my boys got to experience Walking Beans in the summer after my Gate Girl spring.)