Monthly Archives: October 2017

Ready’s Wild Cow–a riding shotgun story


Same veterinarian, different truck


Mr. Robert Ready worked hard at a public job so it was often late afternoon when  he called Charles for veterinary help. Thus, I remember several times late in the evening going to his place off the Camilla highway, out Ready Road, then bumping down a winding trail of a road to the back side of a rolling pasture. Mrs. Ready worked “in town” also and was usually still not home or thoroughly busy cooking or canning or tending her roses. She didn’t come out to help round up cows. Mr. Ready, a tall thickly built man, always wore a dark gray uniform and a canvas hat both of which were not only wet with sweat, but showed signs they’d been that way many times before.

Charles never grumbled when he discovered a cow needing to deliver but still loose in a ten acre pasture. He’d speak cheerfully to Mr. Ready and begin hauling out rope and whatever was needed to catch the cow without tranquilizing her. If he shot her with the tranquilizer we’d have to wait fifteen minutes for the medicine to take effect, then deal with a cow unsteady on her feet whose contractions might have all but stopped.

On one occasion I particularly remember Mr. Ready pointed out the patient amongst sister cows, calf feet showing under her hiked tail. “She’s a gentle one, Doc. We should be able to get her easy.”

When Charles walked toward her she quickly suspected it was she he was after and, smelling trouble, she ran awkwardly down to a clump of tag alder near a swampy area.

“We’ve got to keep her out of that swamp,” said Charles. To me, innocently watching from the passenger seat, he said, “You’re going to have to drive down to the edge of those woods.”

I slid over obediently thinking, “That’s fine as long as I don’t get too near the swamp.”

Before I even reached the woods, the men had flushed the cow out of there and here she came up the sloping pasture again. Charles yelled, “Let me hop on the back of the truck. I’ll have to lasso her.”

He, of course, did not hear my groans.

Thus began a hair-raising journey around and around Mr. Ready’s pasture. Charles yelled, “To the right, the right, the RIGHT! No! the LEFT! Closer, speed up, STOP! To the left, the left I said, the LEFT! No, the right!”

We rocked wildly over terraces, spun through wet places, flew to the right, suddenly sped to the left. My heart was pounding and the fear of running over the cow or Mr. Ready made my palms slick on the wheel.

When it was all over, cow roped to the back end of the truck, calf delivered, a live one that time, I think, I hovered near hoping for some nice words about my skillful driving. But they never came. I think Charles was pretty well convinced I didn’t know right from left, slow from fast. When we left, Mr. Ready lifted his hat to me revealing dark hair drenched in sweat. He grinned and said, “Nice to see you, Mrs. Graham.” Was that all? I got that much just sitting idle in the truck.

Mr. Ready was the one who used to send me grapes which Charles brought home in a clean examation glove. Those gloves are about two feet long, hold a lot of grapes! I was much more successful making grape jelly than driving a cowboy truck!


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Peanuts, Cotton, and Goldenrods


I went out yesterday to take pictures of peanut fields, a cotton field and goldenrods blooming by the old silo off Highway 112. I enjoyed the escapade much more than the pictures will show. They can’t convey the surprise I encountered when two different people stopped to see if I were having trouble. One was the owner, I guess, of the cotton field I was trying to capture in my camera. He offered to take me in his truck for a closer view but I declined. The other was a sheriff’s deputy who looked unconvinced when I told him I was fine. Maybe I shouldn’t have left the hazard blinker on when I parked beside the road. My pictures will certainly not give off the nutty, earthy scents I breathed in nor will they capture my fear when I realized I was wading calf deep in thick grass where a rattlesnake could be coiled.

My tour of Grady County’s peanut harvest included a view of large trailers piled high with peanuts, fields generously populated with huge bales of peanut hay looking deliciously like great loaves of bread, meeting a combine in the road and being glad he moved over to give me space. Overall, I felt energized myself from feeling the intensity of the farmers working to get their crops in ahead of the rain.

We had a real nice taste of the new crop earlier this week. I stepped out to get the mail one afternoon and waved to Ronnie Whitfield as he zoomed past. Then he backed up in his jeep and called out, “Do you like peanuts?” In the back of his jeep were three crates full of  peanuts already picked off the vines. He gave me about three gallons which we soaked overnight, then boiled, covered in water, with a cup of salt for five or six hours. Oh, my! did the house smell good that day! And the peanuts are wonderful, addictive, so good! How nice to have a neighbor like that!

To extol the peanut for only a line or two–how could I have raised my children without PBJ sandwiches? How could we have a party without salted peanuts? How would the South have recovered from the boll weevil without alternative crops like peanuts and soy beans? Thanks for your part, Mr. George Washington Carver!

And then there’s the cotton crop. Because we did recover from the boll weevil and learn how to make sure he leaves the beautiful bolls alone. For years there were fields of tobacco, corn, soy beans but no cotton. Now the beautiful white fields stretch towards the tree line. The cotton is not delicious like peanuts, but so soft in flannel, sturdy in jeans, so adaptable a fabric. And so beautiful growing. After defoliation the fields are really “white unto harvest.” I saw a field yet untouched, one in progress of harvesting, and one where the fantastic huge bales of cotton as big as a house stood ready for transport. How do they make those bales so neat and tight?


Charles remembers picking cotton, neighbors helping each other out during harvest. My mother talked about what it was like when she was a girl growing up in North Georgia, how hard they worked during cotton picking time. She said the rows stretched forever and she thought she’d never get the required pounds in her bag. Yet, she said, there was the fun of singing, telling tall tales, teasing and laughing with her brothers. That man I saw in the combine was all alone. I guess he had a radio for entertainment. I did wave to him after I took his picture, in case he needed a little encouragement!


All along the fence rows and in forgotten patches goldenrods bloom profusely with some morning glories and asters mixed in. The sky was, in itself, reflecting glory to God the day I was cruising the harvest. Now as I write a gentle rain is pattering down and the sky is a mixture of puffy grays. I wonder if the crops are safe.

Peanuts, cotton and goldenrods–food, fabric, and beauty. And neighbors who come by to share peanuts! And folks who are concerned when they see a silver-haired woman out tramping around in the weeds!

This is a wonderful place to live.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalms 98:4 (KJV)




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