Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Nonstop to Talkeetna"

For those of you who might not get the title inference, it's an almost quote from the movie "Snow Dogs". I have watched that movie a few times and it still gripes me but I guess you'd have to be an Alaskan to get why. Anywho, that's not the topic for this particular post. Dad and I drove my poor, unsuspecting heifer to Talkeetna yesterday. She made the acquaintance of the most magnificent beast, Obsidian. He's an Highland bull, in case you couldn't tell.
I had to drag her out of "bed" at 6 a.m., shove her unwilling body into a trailer and make her stand for six hours to get there. Okay, I didn't force her to stand, she was in a trailer and could have laid down if she wanted to. She didn't have to ride backwards either but that was what she chose to do. I kind of understand, "I know that I got in here through these things, now if I can just get them open somehow!" We stopped in Wasilla to see Charlie and have breakfast at IHOP. (I had an omelet, just so you know) and then moved on to Talkeetna. In actuality we turned off the road before we got all the way to Talkeetna but it's easier to say that we went there then try and explain the directions.
Tony's place is a lot like ours in that he's got his own thing going. His cow corral is right next to the house so that made me feel better since he can see everything that's going on out there. His corrals are really big but they are made from electric tape and barbed wire, neither of which are familiar to Bonnie. Which leads us to a really funny story and the entire reason for this post. And now...
"The Bonnie Saga or Moodini, Part Two"

It is a beautiful, sunny day as we roll into Talkeetna, towing our charge behind us. We could tell that she sensed something because our white, Explorer began to jerk and sway with the movements in the trailer. As we, uncertainly because I left the directions at home, turn down a twisty, dirt driveway my father looks at me and raises his eyebrows.
"I don't think this is it"
"It's the twisty one after the straight one and that 's what the directions say... I think. I'll call Mom and ask her to run home and read them to me if you want."
"No, if it's not then we'll ask directions or turn around and try another driveway."

As the SUV rounds the last bend a small, log cabin comes into view. Standing in front is a slight man, long bearded in Carhartt overalls. Through the trees I catch a glimpse of an immense, shaggy blackness. Butterflies erupt in my stomach as Dad hollers out the window that we're looking for Tony.
"That's me." Mr. Carhartt says and sticks out his hand. After Dad shakes it he introduces me and the chatting begins. As we slowly fall from the cab, it was a LONG ride after all, we run through the various pleasantries that perfect strangers seem to do. When I pop the side door on the trailer, to check my baby Tony comes around to check her out too. He notices right away that she is mixed blood but he doesn't seem to mind cause she is beautiful after all. Dad is unsure about how she will react to being in a strange place so he unloads her. Actually, he throws open the door and stands back as she flies from her confines. My sweet cow doesn't freak out though and I am able to lead her safely to the first corral. As Tony turns off the electric fence and pops the divider out I let Bonnie wander around and sniff things. It seems at times that she is a dog, with the incessant need to explore her world with her nose. She is incredibly interested in the small paddock that holds an eight week old heifer calf, the product of an illicit affair with the Black Angus bull down the road. As I lead her to the, now open, corral that houses her future baby-daddy she doesn't seem too nervous. I, on the other hand, can't help noticing the massive animal moving in our direction. He is GORGEOUS! All horn and hair and patient, rolling gait, getting closer and closer. I ask Tony if I could just turn her loose, he says sure and I reach for Bonnie's chin. Normally, this is her signal to bolt from me, kicking up her heels and playing but as she takes her first hop she finally notices that boy that is so close to her. Her jump seems to change in midair, from vertical to horizontal and she bolts away from him. Fortunately, she also bolts away from us. Tony has very nicely put a rope on Obsidian's halter so that occasionally he would step on it, slowing his progress and allowing his reluctant mistress to scamper away. As he moves past us I can't help but admire the sheer power of him. His horns are so perfectly formed and as he moves through the trees he tilts his massive head to accommodate them. Perfect!!!!!
Parched from the long ride, Bonnie stops at the water tank and is rewarded with an eager nose shoved into her... Well, that part doesn't need description, I think everyone gets the picture. As she moves around the tank, a persistent Obi follows her until she stands still long enough for him to get a decent sniff. While he curls his lip, testing her readiness with the organ in the roof of his mouth, she moves on to the enormous pile of hay, just laying there waiting for her. Of course, being a healthy male, Obi has to make sure she is absolutely, positively out of of heat before he can relax and they make several rounds of the corral before things calm down. But as Bonnie becomes less concerned about Obi, she becomes more curious about her new home. As we're standing there watching, she meanders over to the side and sticks her head between two hot wires and begins stripping a sapling on the other side. Panic ensues until the fence is restored to it's position and Bonnie's head is on the same side of the fence as her body.
"She's never been around electric fence before so she may not realize..." My sentence is halted by Bonnie's jerk as she touches her wet nose to another section of fence and is given a shock. Maybe she'll get it now and not stick her head through it again? HAHAHAHA!!!!! Not my Bonnie! Five minutes later, I must run out the gate, around the corral and grab her with my bare hands as she meanders around in the woods outside the corral! She had nonchalantly stepped through another section of fence while we all stood there and watched her and poor Obi, powerless to make his new female stay inside with him. As I start to pull her back to the fence she stops to pull a few weeds up and gazes at me with her big eyes as she chews. When she realizes that I intend to put her back with Obi she gladly goes back through the fence and canters to the other side. I realize that this could get old, chasing her though fences so I sidle up between them and grab her halter. Apparently, Obi takes this as his signal to throw his big shaggy head onto Bonnie's back, preparing to attack, er mount, her. Of course, since she is not receptive, Bonnie lunges away from him, crushing my right foot in the process. Okay, it's not crushed! Not even broken but it sure hurts real bad!
I allow Bonnie to drag me to the hay and stand there, foot throbbing as Obi ambles up behind and starts to get friendly again. I'm prepared this time and warn him off, pushing his nose to the side. He's not that tall and I'm wary of the horns but I've got control of her and it's my job to watch her back... and other rear parts. Tony comes to the rescue with a lead rope and a chain. Since Bonnie gets chained up all day, every day I tell him that it shouldn't be a problem having her tied beside the hay. He's leery since he had a cow that got tangled in a rope, panicked, fell and broke her back. I assure him that she is familiar with being tied and can untangle herself. So long as she can get her rear end away from Obi if she needs to then she'll be fine. And with Bonnie safely restrained in the corral, Obi standing protectively close, we saddle up and hit the road. It's been an eventful trip but I, for one, am eager to get home. Have a fun stay my Bonnie

The End

Stay tuned for the continuation of our story, or " Cow Among Tony's Cabbage"
In the meantime, here's some pictures so you can better appreciate the previous events.


This is the Highland/Angus heifer calf. She's coming home with Bonnie. But she's not gonna stay. The owner of our borrowed trailer wants her.

This is Obsidian, ambling through the trees, in pursuit of his latest lady.

Bonnie was approaching him this time and he turned to look at us. When we left she was trying to get him to play with her but he's too dignified for that.


Aimee said...

aww I think he's cute!

alaskan arndts said...

Yeah, I guess in pictures he's cute but in "person" he's just the most magnificent animal. The only word that came to mind when standing there looking him square in his forelock, cause it covers his eyes, is "WOW!!"

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We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

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Died on JULY 4th, 1826



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