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It takes a lot of patience

Allene Stovall told me she'd be driving from her house in town to the old family farm to check her cows that evening, so when I first walked up to the abandoned property – two barns, a house, a wooden tool shed, and an old mud-brick stable – it was just me, and the hot late afternoon sun, and Thunder, a 4-year-old dog. Thunder was sprawled in the shade and barked once, stood up, then lay right back down to sleep. I took it as a welcome. An hour of warm breeze in a patch of shade of my own, and then Allene drove up the farm road in a beat up blue truck with tools all over the cab. Allene, who celebrated her 83rd birthday in January, normally drives a newer truck but needed this for its lift. She cleared a place for me on the bench seat, and we drove north on a dirt road, heading first to check some irrigation lines. One line was leaking, so Allene threw the truck into park, grabbed a wrench, and whacked the lid. We looked out across the flat brown field at the wind turbines running north. Allene has four on her land, and likes them. Brings in a little money. But the energy company wanted to burn the old house she'd grown up in a few miles away to run electric lines over the area, and that, she told me, was hard to watch. Allene turned the truck west along the edge of her 640-acre section, then south to see the calves. The sun was falling fast, then, and Allene drove on, stopping in the center of the section above a slope that ran to a creek. Calves and cows idled, except for one, giving birth. The calf was halfway out but stuck. A young man hopped off an ATV to give a tug. The cow, spooked or just wanting nature to run its course, rose and bucked, the calf going for a wild ride before sliding out completely, hard onto the earth. It took two men on ATVs to coax the cow back to her calf. But after 30 uncertain minutes, the mother had come around, licking the newborn, and then nudging it upright to nurse. Allene pointed at a small pond, created by a dam built by her father decades before. She looked back at the newest calf, wobbling, and said of keeping cattle, "It takes a lot of patience." #texas #wind #travel #journalism #instaessay #unh808

A post shared by Tom Haines (@twhaines) on

 

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