When I was 21, my folks moved to John Day, in Eastern Oregon. Dad loved John Day. As for my mom, she just really wasn't a small-town type of person.
I stayed with Mama and Dad for a few weeks. I helped them get settled in their new home, and I helped Mama plant a vegetable garden and flowers. We must have planted more than 100 flowering plants, and the vegetable garden was huge.
One morning, Mama and I were just finishing up the breakfast dishes when I looked out the kitchen window and spotted a cow in the vegetable garden.
I wasn't too upset with one stray cow, but Mama was furious that somebody's cow had gotten loose and was eating her garden. I told her not to fuss and went outside to shoo the cow away. Mama followed on my heels to see what the damage was.
When we got to the side of the house, we heard a horrendous rumbling and bawling from over the hill. Next thing we knew, hundreds of cattle were coming over the hill right toward our yard! Mama shrieked and grabbed a couple of brooms. She shoved one broom into my hands and ran out to protect her territory.
Have you ever seen a herd of cattle on the move? At first, all you see is a huge cloud of dust with hundreds of big beasts surging along in it. Now, picture two women, both armed with brooms, one of them yelling at the top of her lungs, trying to keep those cattle out of the flower beds and vegetable garden.
I wasn't sure what to protect: the flowers and vegetables, Mama from the cattle, or the cattle from Mama.
It didn't help that I got to laughing so hard that I could hardly stand up. Mama was swinging at the cattle with her broom, but aiming a swat at me every once in a while because I was laughing. All the while, she was yelling her head off.
The cattle didn't know what to make of Mama, so they veered away from her. Only a few got into the yard. The riders at the back of the herd had a good laugh at the two crazy women.
When Mama turned back to check on her gardens she stepped right in a fresh cow pie. I couldn't take any more. I collapsed on the porch, laughing till I cried.
Dad finally got Mama calmed down later that afternoon. All it took was the promise of a two-week vacation to Portland, Ore.
We managed to save most of the plants, by the way. And the damage was offset by all that free fertilizer the cattle left behind.
Guess which laughing fool got to work all that fertilizer into the garden?