Carol’s story is just another glamorous tale of a city girl who married a romantic Nebraska Sandhills rancher years ago and became a “vocational cow assistant” for life.

“So what exactly do you want me to do?” she asked.

“Take the pickup” (she didn’t learn to drive ’til she was 29) “then go out there to the Big Pasture” (the dreaded Big Pasture where one grass-covered hill looks like the next one to her). “Start way back there at the gate in the Middle Pasture where we have the heifers now and honk. They’ll come follow you and we’ll just run ’em up through the Big Pasture and put ’em where they used to be” (she lost him right after “you take the pickup”).

“Don’t get too close to that gate if it’s surrounded by water, because even in four-wheel drive you could bury this thing up to the hubcaps” (she made a mental note to check behind the seat for a life jacket).

“On second thought, go through the Middle Pasture past the old school-house to the windmill with the green gate panels. Then bring the heifers out that gate with the staple in it into the Big Pasture” (Oh, no. The Staple Gate! Wonder Woman herself couldn’t open that gate with her Golden lasso and a come-a-long). “Then you’ll have a straight shot to the last gate where Gene bucked off the roan colt (in 2012), which leads to where the heifers used to be.”


“I’m gonna take the four-wheeler and go through the other gate where the heifers were ‘cause it’s closer to the mineral feeder, and I can check that windmill while I’m there and fill the feeder. See ya in a bit.”

A bit passes.

“Where were you?” he asked. “I moved the heifers by myself and fixed another windmill. When you didn’t show up I started lookin’. What are you doin’ back here anyway? You could have come out the other gate. You were closer to it, ya know.”

She took a deep breath and replied bravely, “I got the heifers through the Staple Gate, but it took so long to close it, I turned the wrong way. I followed the road to the windmill we’d checked and realized I’d gone too far (not to mention the heifers disappeared). So, I remembered what you’d told me: “If you ever get lost in the Big Pasture, get up high, then you can see fence. Go to the fence and follow it to a gate.” (Which is as useless a piece of information to someone like her as finding your way home by looking for moss growing on the north side of trees when you’re lost in the woods).

“So I climbed this hill and dropped into a bull hole” (buffalo waller, for you Okies). “The truck made ‘that noise’ and stopped” (“that noise” that causes anyone who doesn’t like hiking to break out in a cold sweat). “I managed to back the truck out and come back the way I came ‘til I found the Staple Gate where I’ve been waiting for you to find me.”

“Hmm,” he says and loads the four-wheeler in the pickup and they start back to the house. He drives. As they bounce along the sandy track, he puts his hand on her knee, and she rests her hand on his shoulder. The truck is still making “that noise,” but it doesn’t bother them. They’re pardners. Together they can handle anything.  end mark