The Primal Scream
- June 8, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
When my middle grandboy, Taygen, was just past yearling size, he discovered his “loud voice”. He would be doing something like walking around the furniture, crawling around on the floor, or riding in his carseat, when suddenly, without warning or provocation, would emit a scream that woke the dogs four miles away. Just one. Never a second one, and then he’d go on about his business, apparently pleased with the hair raising response of those around him. I started referring to it as his Primal Scream. It would probably have registered in the 200 decibel range, and was a bit startling, especially coming from such a small person.
We had to move the cows and calves, and the only way across the boggy creek was to go out on the county road for about a half mile and cross at the big culvert. We had them gathered and were walking them down the road. I had Taygen with me on Rush, their Mommy was on Callie, and their Daddy was on Lakota and had Carson, who was almost three, with him. The cows were moseying along, not a care in the world, as were the horses. It was a beautiful morning, full of bird song and peace. One of those perfect cowboy days, riding good horses and moving a nice set of cows.
A calf decided she needed to explore the road ditch right at the approach to the culvert, and it was a jungle of grass and weeds, which hid who-knows-what horse crippling/ensnaring treasures. The fence was questionable down by the culvert and I didn’t want the calf to waller through it, as there was no gate on that fenceline. I rode Rush down the deep ditch to push the calf back onto the road and Rush was chest deep in the roadside weeds along the wire fence, when, with no warning, Taygen released one of his Primal Screams. The cows spooked and ran several strides, Callie grabbed herself and lit 10 feet ahead, Lakota leaped off into the opposing ditch. The calf squirted up onto the road, sure that Sasquatch had nearly gotten her in the big grass. Rush? He flicked an ear back and then forward, kept his mind on the job at hand, which was to safely traverse the road ditch mess we were in and get the calf back onto the road.
Truthfully, I had about levitated from my saddle, but holding onto Taygen kept me in place. When I looked down at his darling little face, he was grinning ear to ear. Apparently the results of his Primal Scream had far exceeded his expectations. Everyone on a horse was looking at him in amazement. His Daddy asked him what brought that on, thankful to have weathered the jump without losing the grip on Carson. Their Mommy was pretty big eyed as she hadn’t ridden much and knew she had nearly been dumped. The cows settled back down to a faster walk, calves close beside them, casting furtive glances back over their shoulders.
Ears still ringing, we got the cows through the gate and into the pasture without further trouble, and Taygen was still grinning as we rode home. One Primal Scream was enough for any given cow works.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....