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AMY KIRK: 'Day of rest' often turns into day of stress


Doesn't the sound of the word evoke thoughts of a calm, relaxed and slowed-down pace? Sundays are commonly considered a day to rest, take it easy, be lazy and get rejuvenated. It's just that kind of thinking that lands our household unexpected work on Sunday.

I view the thought of Sunday with caution. It may be the one day of the week I anticipate napping, not having any plans, and staying home to re-energize my mind and body, but that frame of mind usually inspires Murphy's Law to provide me with a day of unplanned exertion instead. Our family's plans to go to Sunday church or do something fun together have been scratched more than once on account of finding a livestock-related problem requiring immediate attention.

Every Sunday, I have intentions of scaling back on to-dos and encouraging my family to recuperate from the past week's activities, but we still take care of our responsibilities to our cows first thing and go on a range check like normal. On Sundays, the intention is to do the check quickly and enjoy a restful day afterward. After a few consecutive uneventful Sundays, we quickly get accustomed to a minimal-work mindset day of rest -- and that's when troubles reveal themselves.

A recent Sunday the kids and I found some cows had crossed a cattle guard that had filled up with enough dirt to cross it. Instead of getting an early morning check done, going to church and relaxing afterward, we got the bunch of cows back in, then went back home. Everybody picked out a tool and we spent some quality time together cleaning out the auto gate before resuming our water tank and salt checking.

On another recent hasty Sunday range check, my daughter, the dog and I came upon a few pairs standing under a nice grassy, shaded tree with no access to water and a mile from the grazing unit they were supposed to be in. It was a Sunday I spent doing some physical exertion and unscheduled fence fixing. My daughter drove the Jeep and I did some footwork to push the cows back and turn them toward the closest gate back into the unit. Since Sundays are oftentimes affiliated with being lazy, I didn't run very hard to head the cows off before the critical turning point at the top of a hill. Naturally, they chose to lope down the road that I didn't want them to take where a gate exists a longer distance up the road.

I had no other choice but to run with it -- run a shortcut ahead to open the gate that somebody wired completely shut, all before my daughter got the cows there with the Jeep. The cows saw me before I got the gate open and out of the way, and the cows ran past the gate, forcing me to run some more to head them off and turn them around. Once the cows were back in, we then looked for the spot where they'd gotten out and fixed the fence -- wearing my last pair of work jeans that hadn't been ripped by barb wire until then.

The only good thing about our upcoming Sundays is that we no longer have to feel disappointed about not being able enjoy a relaxing, no-work day, because they're over. We're too busy haying.