Showing Eli Real Cows

I took Matt to my hometown for a camp out this past weekend.  It was fun to show him my ol' stomping ground like that.  I hadn't camped at Seven Sisters since high school I bet!  Oh, it was a blast from the past.  It was made even sweeter by the fact that my lovely pal Alli was able to come camp out with us.

The trip with Matt along got me thinking about my blessedly rural upbringing.  Now, for the record, I have always considered myself a city-dweller.   I've never lived on a farm, though I would go on extended stays to my relatives' farms in the summer.  Taking Matt, who has only lived in Montana's largest city (pop. 100,000) his entire life, to Sidney (pop. 5,000) made me even more aware of how rural I guess I really am.  I used to run around in cow fields at night for a thrill.  I knew the camp spots where there was always readily available fire wood and how to start a fire. I knew the location of secluded fishing holes.  I drove on gravel just as much as pavement.  I can tell some crops apart in the fields.  I've helped brand.  I know why they put those pipes through the middle of the sugar beet pile.  I've learned both square and line dancing.  I like to ride horses.  At one point I could identify more than 25 breeds of cow, though certainly I am now rusty at this skill.  But, you see what I am getting at.  For a "city girl" I was quite agriculturally exposed. 

Living with Matt has made me all the more aware of this.  I tell him stories from my high school shenanigans like taking Friday night drives out to Cartwright to use the water pump smack-dab in the middle of main street there or having "stampede wrestling" matches in the abandoned train tunnel that was our hang-out or getting offered extra-credit in school for flipping a sheep onto its dock at the stockyards.  He chuckles and jokingly calls us "hillbillies."

Reflecting on my rural childhood also me recall how when Eli was visiting from Seattle we had to pull over and show him real live cows.  Apparently he had been watching a cartoon where all the cows had udders (even the boys!) and had their eyes on the direct front of their heads.  It was a pretty inaccurate depiction so Lisa asked us to find some real ones.  Not hard to do in Montana I must say. 
We had driven to the Natural Bridge and the highway is lined with pasture in every direction pretty much.  It didn't take long to find cows right up along the roadway.  So we stopped and had a look and chat about all things their stylish earrings and the purpose thereof and so on.
I honestly cannot imagine what my life would be like or what sort of person I'd be if I hadn't had this rural-agricultural framework to my childhood.  Even as a "town kid" it shaped so much of who I am.  I am sure I'd have become an equally fine human being if I'd been born into Seattle.  After all, Eli is delightful boy and will undoubtedly grow to be a fine man even lacking a proximity to free ranging cows.  Still, I count my lucky stars that I was born in this quiet, uncrowded place among the sugar beet fields and sage brush.  It moves me deep down in my heart.  I cannot imagine it any other way.
It was really sweet to be able to share a bit of that with my little red-headed nephew.
He even got to pump some water....though at the Falls Creek camp ground not on Main Street in Cartwright, ND.  Maybe on some other Montana journey.


  1. aww, what a sweet post. and thanks for it, because you've made me realize that there are a few cow tidbits that should probably be pointed out to my city-dwelling grandgirls!

  2. This is so true! I do hope your nephew knows where hamburger comes from as well!

    Gotta laugh about "hillbillies" I didn't know they had them there!

    I grew up in the country too.

  3. I am sure your city-dwelling grandkids would love that, Dmarie! The ins and outs of animal life is so fascinating, especially to kids. I used to soak up every single word my uncles and farm-friends said about their livestock.

    Mary, actually, that was one of the points of discussion! I think it was mildly mind-boggling for him. I always laugh when he calls us hillbillies too. We really aren't....just a little bit country. : )

  4. ok, so I grew up even a little more country than you and i had NO IDEA we had that many different cattle breeds in eastern MT! i think the only ones i could name would be red and black angus, herefords, black baldies, longhorns, charolais, dairy cows, and belted galloways (oreo cows). IMPRESSIVE, SIS!! :)

  5. Ah, thanks!

    Also, not all of the 25+ were found locally. Some were just breeds I read about and admired. For example I always thought Brahman and Texas Longhorns were awesome, but I've never seen one in Eastern Montana. Despite a lack of local dairies in my area I was particularly interested in the different kinds of dairy cows because at one point I thought they all were the standard black-and-white Holsteins. I think Jerseys, Guernseys, and Brown Swiss are some of the most beautiful cows around and they are all dairy cows. I've also always like the look of the belted galloways.


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