I wish I had a picture. There’s my handsome mate gesturing frantically. He’s trying to get me to do something. He’s too far away. I can’t hear a word and we didn’t talk beforehand what the gestures are supposed to mean. Sound familiar, ladies? Wouldn’t any man have known exactly what he meant?
Here’s the scenario. We have to move a herd of 120 cows: mamas, babies, heifers and a few steers. There are only two of us. The general plan is to entice them with a truck full of hay and with said mate on horseback push them from behind. I’m driving the truck. The mate is horseback. The horse is a young and somewhat amenable gelding. The weather is good. The cows are hungry. Mate says it should be OK. So without further ado or discussion I mount my mechanical steed and he mounts his biological one. Off we go.
It goes well at first. The cows hear the familiar rumble of the diesel engine, get a whiff of food and they come a’chargin’! I floor the pick-up and make it to the gate well ahead of them. I have the gate wide open with enough time to actually drive back towards the running herd. They catch up fast but I stay ahead of them so they can’t pull hay off the back which would cause them to stop and eat.
Then the predictable happens. As soon as they’re through the first gate the heads go down. There’s nice grass here and as I said before they’re hungry. The mate is behind them whoopin’ and hollerin’ and they’re half heartedly following me and the hay. It’s a fairly long distance between the gate and the pasture we’re taking them to. We’re about half way there and we have yet to go through the “pass” and over the creek to our destination. The cows aren’t into it. What’s the rush? We’ve got grass here and it tastes GOOD!
Now we’ve reached the part where we have the communication breakdown. Here’s where the difference between men and women roars to the foreground. This plucky team has not talked about what to do in the event the cows don’t act according to plan. Back there on his horse the mate is gesticulating for me to come back. Huh? I see the classic wave of hand and arm sweeping out to the front and then sweeping back. OK. I know what that means. I turn the truck around and go back. All of a sudden he’s gesticulating for me to go away. Wha’? Now I’m seeing the classic wave of the hand and arm of sweeping from back to front in a pushing manner. You want me to go away now? I just barely started coming back. I’m thoroughly confused.
So I go back to where I had been. Again, with the hand waving to come back. I comply. Again, with the hand waving to go away. Now I’m getting frustrated. What IS it that you want? You can’t have it both ways. So when I turn around this time I get out of the truck and walk towards him. If it wasn’t grass you could have heard me stomping. The cows aren’t going anywhere anyway so I may as well get clear on whatever concept he’s trying to get across to me.
He says I wanted you to come back and stay close but out of reach. Oh, really? You could have fooled me. For thousands of years the men went out to hunt the wild game. They could not talk or they’d scare the game away. They had a general plan for when they got near the game. The game never did what was expected of them. The hunters had to execute on the fly and they developed a non-verbal type of communication. Over on the other side of the hill the women are going out to gather. The quarry is stationary. Lowanna, you go over there and Eiderdown, you go over there. Meet back here when your basket is full. While they are filling their baskets they discuss when Umlaut and Ucka Mucka are tying the knot. Talking makes it safer because the bears will run away when they hear humans in their vicinity. Fast forward to the present and you get the picture.
We’re back at our episode of “Rawhide” with Gil and Rowdy. Finally I have a clear idea of what he wants because we actually communicated! We are now able to push the cows through the “pass’ and over the creek. We only have one more incident of vague yelling and meaningless (to me) gesticulation. I am not suckered this time. All is going well and the hand gestures I now interpret are counter-productive. So guess what I do? I shamelessly ignore him. Gals, ya gotta take matters into your own hands sometimes and make that executive decision. Hopefully, you’ve got a mate with a sense of humor who can laugh at himself and look at it positively when the job is successfully completed even without endless prep for potential what-if’s or a single mysterious hand gesture!
Our cows safely installed in their new pasture