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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Faith to move the Herd

(Sorry the picture doesn't match well with the story today)                                                           

                                                              One Cold December Day

     It's hard to relate the gospel to our lives sometimes, so today I want to relate an experience that I had while moving cows in the desert on a cold day in December in Southern Utah. 

     I was down visiting my sister and her family for a week and I wanted to have some work during the day while their family was busy. So I had previously asked her to speak with the people she had told me about that own a local ranch. She did and they said it would be a possibility for me to help them out. So I called them up to see if I could have some work while I was down there. They were glad to have some extra help and said that they would put me to work for the week.
     One of my more memorable days there started at around 5:30 in the morning. It was cool and the ground was covered in frost. The air was fresh and the day was young. I showed up early to the ranch yard and began to feed the steers and the weanling colts their hay for the day. Not long after I arrived another young man showed up that worked for the family and had worked for them for a couple of years now. The boss man told us that there were some cows out on a pasture way out in the middle of no where it sounded like to me! ( You know how it is when people are talking in terms that you don't understand or using words and names to places that you don't know. It can get very confusing very fast! ) I was ready to get out and get some riding though and see the country around. What I couldn't foresee was the size of the project that we would be getting into that day. 
     We caught the horses and saddled them up, loaded the horses in the trailer and headed south. At first I was thinking that the range we were going to was pretty close by. After driving for about 30 minutes I thought that I would ask Leo, the kid I was working with that day how far we had to go. He replied pretty simply that it would be about another hour or so. Once I realized this we took the chance to talk about the area and what it would be like when we got there and the boss and how much he knew about the place. We both knew that we had a big job for the day, but we knew we would get it done. 
     We drove the highway for a while, and with time we turned off the road onto a well graded gravel road and drove for another 30 minutes, winding through the beginning of the badlands. This all seemed like a great new experience to me, and my hopes were high that today was going to be a great day! A while later, and after unloading salt in the pasture as we drove we finally got to a valley where the hole in the fence was that the cows had been getting out of, or at least one of the many holes along the miles of fence on the vast range. To give you an idea of the size of the range, from the center point of the range they say it was about 25 miles in every direction without leaving the same piece of range. So our job was to get whatever cows were outside of the pasture and bring them all back to that hole in the fence to get them where they needed to be. The good thing was though that they said the cows had only been out for a couple of days, so they should be relatively close by.
     We figured we would start by driving a ways in the truck to see where some of the cows were. We drove for 8 miles to the next water hole and we saw only 5 cows. The boss said that there was nearly 100 that were out of the pasture. We looked a little bit more, and decided that we had better just get started on moving them since it was already about 11:00 so that we could get them all in and get back to the ranch at a decent time. 
        We drove back until we were where we saw the couple of cows and I got out to start them in the right direction. Now I knew that if I followed the road the whole way that I would make it back just fine, but I also knew that the cows had been in this pasture many times and they knew where to go. Half of them didn't want to go back and some did. The problem was, that I knew the range worse than any of them and Leo had left me behind saying that he was going to drive a ways and park the truck and then ride back, looking for cows along the way. The first mile or so I was feeling nice and perky, but as time went on and the cows began to trail far ahead I realized that I wasn't in control and I had more than I had started with. I then began to see some cows up in the little draws and ravines, and I started gathering them up as well. Not long later I was really hoping that I was going to see Leo on the ridge somewhere and he would be able to tell me that I was headed in the right direction and that things were going well ahead of me also. Thank goodness, Leo appeared about 3 minutes later on a ridge a ways away, but from what I could tell from his hand gestures, I had them headed in the right direction for the most part and things were still alright. 
     The herd and I were coming up on an open area and I was seeing two different valleys and I wasn't sure which one was going to be the best one to take. They both looked pretty good and I figured that we could make it work either way. Plus, they were all on a high trot for the one and I was thinking that they knew a bit about where they were headed. As the lead cow was about to get to the head of the canyon, I saw Leo appear again on the horizon, this time though, he was to the side of me and I could very obviously tell that the cows were headed to the wrong canyon and I put my horse on a quick lope to get around them and point them in the right direction. It was a dead run chase to the head of the canyon, but I finally got them turned and headed back towards the right canyon. I was beginning to feel good again and things were going smoothly. Leo began appearing on the horizon more, and I could tell that he was working near me with another little heard.
     With time, we both joined our herds together and had them headed down the right canyon. This was the right canyon and we soon were funneling down into the canyon not far from the hole in the fence that we were going to.
     Now that we had everything in our sight for the most part we decided that I would keep them moving along and that Leo would run up and open up the gate just yards down the fence from where the hole was that they went through. The next 30 minutes were filled with running everywhere and turning cows back in the right direction. We then got them back in and pushed them away from the fence and into the pasture on the other side of the fence a ways.
     Leo and I went back and got the truck so that we could grab some fence fixing materials. We each grabbed some wire and staples and head out from the hole in opposite directions. I went about two miles and I came across very few holes in the fence, but I then came up on a huge drop down canyon of a national park. It was a big drop and a deep canyon. It was then that I realized if I had let the cows go down the draw that they were headed for they would have wound up down in that valley and it would have been a fight beyond belief to get them back out.
     I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to learn about the Holy Ghost in my life through the example of Leo and him appearing on the horizon to help guide me and the cows in the right direction. I know that I had to have the faith that I was headed in the right direction most of the time, because if I had doubted that the cows or my life would have quickly lead down the wrong path and been hard to correct. But since I was able to move forward in faith and have some occasional help from Leo we were able to get all of the cows back through the fence and into the right pasture. This experience and not getting lost in the Badlands of southern Utah will always be a time of impression in my life. I look back on this experience on a regularly and I realize how grateful I am to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in my life so that when I need help I can look to God and receive answers that will guide me to where I need to be.
     Through this experience I have also been able to learn more about the love that our Father in heaven has for us and how he always remembers us in our times of need so that we can return to live with him again. I know that Faith in Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer, and His Atonement is the first step to living with Him again! This is one of the glad messages that I share as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.     

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