For as long as I can remember, one thing I have greatly struggled with has been my personal self-image. The root of this internal conflict is yet to be determined, but nonetheless it is something that has significantly impacted my life ever since I was a kid. Over the years I have tried several methods to solve this problem, but ultimately the issue never seemed to resolve. That was until about 6 months ago, around the time that I met Texas Slim, it was also around the time that I came to my epiphany moment and my relationship with God began to grow and to this day still continues to grow. Within the last 6 months I have not only grown as a person internally, but externally as well and it is clear to see why. Working on the farm along with drastically changing some of my lifestyle choices, has enabled me to accomplish tasks that I never would have even thought about before and I have gained a new sense of confidence within myself that I will always carry with me.

Although my time on the farm has been limited, I have been able to take away a lot of life lessons as well as learn how to care for the animals which to many may not seem like a very daunting task, however, until you have been face to face with an angry bull, I don’t think you could truly understand the true art that is required to properly do the job. Before an animal can be processed to provide us with several nutrients that our mind and body needs, there is a process that must first take place outside the facility where the animals spend their lives. I never thought about it before, but the same way that we are immunized to prevent the spread of diseases, cows are also treated to protect them and prevent diseases from spreading within their herd.

The first step of treating a cow, is getting the cow in a place to be properly treated. This may seem like common sense and to be quite honest, once you get the hang of it, it does become a whole lot easier, but it does require some finesse. Moving a herd of cattle from one pen to another is a bit nerve racking your first time, at least for me it was. When I entered their pen and saw at least ten cows headed my direction, my initial reaction was to find the nearest exit, which was right behind me in the same direction the cows were headed. Luckily, I had an instructor who has more than fifty years of experience working cattle, so it’s safe to say my life was in great hands. I was able to learn how to properly move the cattle by listening to him tell me what to do and also just watching what he was doing.

Once all the cattle were out of their initial pen, some decided to head in the direction that we needed them to, others decided not to walk with the crowd and went the complete opposite direction. Now what do you do when you need to herd ten cows from one end of a metal alley to the other? You walk right past them. As simple as it sounds, it is very intimidating to walk past living creatures who have the ability to put you in the hospital, or 6 feet underground without thinking twice or even once about it. I’ll be the first to admit that I was scared, not only was I scared, I was also a bit embarrassed because I felt like my job as a farm hand is to reduce the amount of work for the rancher, but as it only being my first time, the rancher was quick to assist me in moving the cattle. My mind was blown once I saw how quick the rancher was able to get after the cattle. I was put to shame after watching a man nearly 3 times my age move much faster and with much more intent than I had been.

Once we had wrangled all the cattle into the proper pen to be worked on, we were finally able to treat the cows. This meant giving them a shot, a dose of antibiotic, and for the bulls it meant losing their manhood: castration. I was fortunate enough not to be the one castrating the bulls, but I did give each cow their dose of medication. That in itself required a lot of patience, grit, and determination.

This may come as a surprise to some people, but not every cow was delighted about being confined for no more than a few minutes. Some cows were more subtle than others, but in the same way that young kids don’t enjoy taking medicine, cows don’t enjoy it much more. Before too long we eventually had all the cows worked, except for one bull that busted through two gates and jumped over the pen entirely. Returning the cows to their pen was much easier since I had experience from getting them out of their pen. I felt confident in doing it because the process to getting them back was the same as getting them out. This time I was able to do it without needing as much assistance from the rancher.

I am grateful to have been able to see such an immaculate work first hand. For the first time I felt as if I was a part of something bigger than myself, surer than ever that I was working with the best possible candidate for my first-time working cattle, it was truly an eye-opening experience and I feel confident in saying that if everyone was able to see the amount of hard work that goes in to meat processing, the world would be a much better place because everyone would appreciate the people that bust their rears for us to be able to put food on the table so much more. Farmers and Ranchers deserve so much more recognition and appreciation for the amount of work they put into their trade. I definitely feel more confident in myself after having to evade angry bulls for a day, but nonetheless, I would gladly do it all again.