Saturday I went on my first cattle drive! I know, what?!? Is the typical reaction I got and my own best friend ponder and reconsidered our friendship. But I love this kind of thing. When Mary and Steve told me they were going on a cattle drive, I greedily invited myself along. I can’t emphasize enough the value of knowing and supporting your local farmers. Several summers ago, I took on the role of investigative journalist and visit several of the local areas grass-fed farms. Swiss Connection (which was the site of the said cattle drive) was one of them. Not only do they raise grass-fed cows, but they also produce raw milk products, including their notorious cheeses. To these farmers its more than money, its more than the quality meat and food products. They believe in what they’re doing and they care about their animals. They are passionate, good people.
That is something I have always cherished about the Midwest, the friendliness. I enjoy traveling to cities, but being out in the country is another experience. I remember growing up, anytime my cousins, siblings, and I were outside playing, anyone driving or passing by would give a friendly way. People talk about Midwestern values. People are friendly. My grandpa Dreher never met a stranger and others are willing to go out of their way to help you. Last summer when I’d take a stroll with my backpack, I can’t tell you how many people stopped to make sure I didn’t need a ride. This is what I thought when I climbed onto a straw bale attached to a tractor, surrounded by Mary and strangers. They all had a smile on their faced. A crowd of good-natured people, coming out to help their neighbors, asking nothing in return. Part of me is envious of the farmer, country life. Such simplicity and genuine attitude.
So on with the story, we climb onto the trailer, where we’re taken 3 miles down the road to where the cows currently reside. On the way more experienced herders share their stories of wrangler cows in the ice in December. Once we arrive, string is attached to either side of the trailer. We divide into two sides with sufficient distance in between. Holding the rope at hip level (any higher and the cows would have looked to dip below to freedom). The cows were released, rapidly running to gather at the front. Note, most of these cows were pregnant, so they were just eager to get going wherever we needed. For three miles we looked along side the cows (70 to 75 cows total). It was a unique experience. I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to a cow for such an extended period of time. For most of the walk I found myself next to a beautiful brown and white marbled cow, bulging with new life. It was amazing. And everyone did their part to help out.
We finished with the cows safely home, elated with the feeling of a job well-done. A new camaraderie building. Each relaying our own experiences and pleasures. Gathering around to enjoy a home-cooked meal made on an open fire. A wonderful community feel. Something that feels so natural and right. Like this is how it should be, how it used to be. Thank you to Mary and Steve for taking me, and thank you to the Swiss Connection not only for the wonderful work they do, but for the experience!