The Story of Ruth and Other AnimalsPosted Sunday, February 6, 2011, at 9:00 AM
Ruth was a burro that my dad purchased at an auction one time. Of course, we had to name her Ruth after the donkey on Gunsmoke. She was a roan- colored burro and we had fun on her for a while. I think that Dad envisioned training her to be a pack animal for one of his hunting trips.
Unfortunately, Ruth got into the grain one day and foundered quite badly. She never was the same. So she went to live in the pasture with the cows and the various horses that ran loose in the summer months.
The horses didn't like her, they would try to run her into ditches, so after a while, Ruth began to identify with the cows instead of the horses. You would find her grazing amiably with a herd and when they were moved to another pasture, she went too.
Ruth wasn't the only animal on our farm that had an identity crisis. In later years, we had a pig who nursed from a very willing cow. That cow raised several orphan calves and a pig. Our pig thought he was a cow too.
It is sometimes the circumstances in our lives that makes us change course, whether it a temporary thing or a permanent move. Even though the pig went the way of all pigs, his "cow" mother never made him feel differently as he grew up. Ruth in different circumstances might have been a completely different animal had she not foundered on the grain. This made her slow and plodding and the horses sensed a difference in her.
Ruth died of old age on our place. She lived out her days as a cow enjoying the green pastures.
We all find ourselves with challenges in this mad world that we live in. Some of us will adapt, others rage against the unfairness and some will find a nice green pasture to live out their days.
When my sister and I were in high school, we started our cattle herd together. First we had two calves that we raised from a bottle. Their names were Sparky and Pokey. We had two bottles, but only one calf nipple, so you would have to jump on the back of the pick-up to change the nipple to the other bottle. This was fine the first couple weeks, until the calves learned to jump up with us. Then it became a little more dangerous and challenging.
Sparky and Pokey also bonded with a dog and a cat and they would all walk around together. It was crazy to see. But one day, the calves walked up the front stairs and into my mother's dining room. After that, they were confined to a horse stall with a door propped up in the opening. This worked until one morning they discovered that they could push the door over. Sadly, they crushed the cat in the process. It was the end of the unique friendship that they all shared. When we buried the cat, the dog cried over the grave for quite a while but the calves by now had moved on to realizing that they were cows.
We have all at times formed a unique bond with someone different than ourselves. In the beginning, these friendships seem to be beneficial to everyone, until the bond is broken by someone's true nature.
What changed? Well in this case, the calves grew bigger and stronger. Their focus changed from companionship to food and escape. The dog and the cat were still in the friendship mode.
We all recognize that there are differences between us, but there are other factors in life that you cannot deny. The dog and the cat would have retained that bond for many years to come. The calves however, grew bigger and stronger than their brain power. They moved like steam engines through their life motivated by food and trampling even their supposed loved ones in the process.
There are so many parallels to these animals and what we see in today's world. Some of us are being trampled on and will not survive the crush. Others are grieving for something that has been lost. The Ruths of the world have adapted and lived out their days as a cow. But the pig raised by cows, still found his fate as a pig.
In the past, I have stressed personal responsibility and now I am going to add something else. A Caretaker. Their role is not the government or the media or even your grade school teacher. My Caretaker is God, but yours might be something very different.
We are all guided by something we cannot explain in the course of our lives. Some of us are still in the holding pens creating noise and havoc, while others are riding the tried and true trails, and then there are the Ruths who are at peace with their lives and grazing on the green pastures.
Just as a cowboy quiets the herd, the Caretaker's role is mend the fences, protect the livestock, and to keep a campfire burning for the cold and lonely drifters who have lost their way. However, you may envision your Caretaker, mine keeps me company as I walk the fence line.
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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.