Open The Gap And Get Out Of The Way
By W. P. Sissell
When one has a fairly large heard of dairy cows one must always be on the lookout for pasture. In the middle thirties, before we bought the “Cottoner” place—it was really a part of the McFarland place—Dad rented the land on the south side of Otuckalofa for pasture. It was not being worked in crops for the Johnson grass had taken over the entire field. Dad fenced it with a single strand of wire—which we moved about twice a week. When I went after the cows—they had to come down into the creek so they got plenty of water on their way to the barn.
In 1936, after buying the place, this land was no longer available for summer pasture. That Johnson grass land was plowed and disced. Afterwards the Johnson grass roots were raked (with a dump hay rake) and thrown into the creek (by pitchfork). After the several years of pasturing and this discing, raking, pitchfork treatment that Johnson grass no longer had a home. That creek-bank land was now in cotton and the cows were in the big pasture across the road from our house on land suitable only for pasture.
There was one great problem with the new arrangement—water—for now the cows were not close to the creek and if we let them go to the flat (adjacent to the creek used as night pasture) they scattered after drinking from the pond and creek there. That was partially solved in a fairly easy manner. At about the time the school bus brought us home in the afternoon I, and later Ruth too, got an additional chore.
At the pitcher pump out by the west side of our house there was a twelve foot half section of a hollow Cypress log with nailed on, tar sealed boards at each end—my/our new chore was to pump that trough “run over full” of water—then step down to the front gate—open the gap across the road and get out of the way. Do you have any idea of how much nice, fresh, clean, cool water twenty-five, sometimes thirty, thirsty cows can/will drink? That’s one remembrance that I hold dearly.
If you wonder about that last statement I must add this. Mother, Dad, Ruth and I, and sometimes one additional helper, saw those cows twice daily—actually I probably saw them three times for I was the “getter upper” along with my horse and collie, Mickey, (they knew Mickey and the horse too). In just a couple of hours, after the school bus stopped at our gate you’d see the cows begin to congregate at the gap. If I tarried too long several of them—I called them the “callers”—began lowing (mooing)—calling me to the pump. Before long that was a steady sound as I pumped that first trough full. I tried letting them across first but after the pushing and shoving at the trough I never did that again. I can still hear the “slurping” sound as they sucked up the water faster than I pumped it.
Next week I’ll tell you about the real, final, solution to the problem. Do have a good week. Remember that February is our cold month—as if we haven’t had enough already but planting time is just around the corner. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879. Thank you for the calls—I really get some interesting comments from YOU.