Don’t buy 44.

The colt unbroke and three years old
The Ebay item that goes unsold
The rude child that’s never been told
And the soft drink that’s not yet cold

The pessimist who can’t be consoled
The woman that you can not hold
The house you’d like but’s full of mold
And fool’s gold

The laundry that you’ve yet to fold
The politics perpetually polled
The 7 or 11 that won’t get rolled
BUT, not the faith that’s bold.


When the day kicks off with having to haul water to the cattle-working location of the day, you know it’s going to be a hot one.

The combination of heat and cattle volume required Morgan and I to hook up the water trailer and deliver it across the road from the headquarters where we were going to be working cattle that afternoon.

Around 2:30 or 3:00, we penned them. The first half are shown below.

Everyone said we were waiting for it to cool off a bit, but we were just postponing the inevitable. It didn’t cool of until it got dark. And it’s pretty hard to work cattle in the dark.

Everyone in the background is doing their part within the machine. J.M. was inspecting the heifers and calling shippers.

84 years old and we still have hell keeping him out of the crowd pen.

Close to eighty head were loaded and delivered back to the pens at the headquarters where we unloaded them and shaped them.

“Shaping” cattle is a term that refers to sorting them into groups that go with one another. Some of the cows were moved to a different pasture. The keeping heifers were another group and the shippers were the last group.

Usually we ship on Thursday. But, it was a LONG day. Our cattle needed breaks. Our cowboys needed breaks. Our horses needed breaks. It was hot.

Those of you familiar with cattle are probably familiar with a situation that includes cattle “getting hot”. Well, for the rest of you, that phrase refers to cattle that start fighting. Usually, they are actually hot as well. They start out nervous, working themselves into a heated situation. And then, they fight.

Well, when every animal you work starts out hot… You’re going to have some fighters. My horse got hooked. Morgan’s horse got hooked. Mick’s horse got hooked. And Dick got hooked. No, not Dick’s horse. Dick.

He didn’t get too stirred up about it. One of the bigger bull-calves took his feet out from under him in the crowd pen and started to work him over a bit once Dick was down. Bo “clowned” for him a bit and the situation cleared up pretty quick. Dick just stood up and got back to work. This wasn’t Dick’s first time.

Well, there was a cow in this group that was a little worse than the rest. This wasn’t her first time either. I wish I had gotten some pictures of her antics, but most of my time was spent trying to keep her from:

  1. Jumping out of the crowd pen – failed on this one 😉
  2. Jumping out of the pens altogether – didn’t fail, but did have to cut her out of the fence once
  3. Hooking my horse – failed on this one too

So she earned a trip to the auction barn.

When we finally got her in the trailer I managed to get a picture.

Well, Alvin is Bo’s step-dad and fellow South Texas cattleman. He buys some of the better cows through the barn sometimes. Naturally, Bo helps him work his cows, too. And Bo did not want to have the pleasure of working with this cow again.

Then, Bo said he was going to call Alvin and tell him not to buy that 44 cow. He said it laughing, half-joking. But, I bet he made that call.


Mathew 7:6
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Take care to be diligent looking after your ‘herd’. 44 was in the group we were watering that morning. Too often we decide who the pigs are before we even try. So, try. Make the effort. Even when it’s a hot, miserable situation make the effort. You may be discouraged, but those that rely on you may need you in that situation more than you can imagine.

But… Here’s the tricky part. Recognize a lost cause and have the courage to call a spade a spade. Don’t waste your time on those things that drain your energy, both physical and spiritual.

If I had kept that cow in the crowd pen, kept her out of the fence and kept her from hooking my horse, what would we have? We’d still have a shitty cow.

Sometimes our failures come from situations we shouldn’t even be in in the first place. It takes a bold faith to listen to God and have the courage to cut some strings.

What’s in your life right now that you need to load on the trailer and send to the butcher?

Mathew 6:11
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t buy 44.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jessica. Glad it related. Cut those strings girl. Let it go. This is probably the hardest thing for me. I take on everything ( and blame it on my “I-can-do-anything-just-watch-me” Irish heritage ) But, it’s just not healthy. Thanks for the comment – James

  1. hmmm… the irish part makes me try to be involved in everything without sinking?

    Your message was a much needed one – I often let people get to me time and time again, and if I were to just cut the strings…

    I love how the analogies refer to common things in our lives!

  2. James,
    thanks for the passages and the story for your day. it is how this day ended with my freind and i BJ earnest as we were working two yr old cutting horses. how to sort out or leave some of the bad habits we have learned and focus on GOD as we work and as we do our works have improved by sorting off the not so good cattle and still have good works and be soft and glad at the end

    thanks
    Gary Dale

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