I was wearing my Elmer Fudd hat on this early winter evening. I needed it to keep my ears warm while crunching through the snow to feed my steers. The sun, long in the western part of the sky, had started to scratch the tops of the Stansbury Mountains while indigenous wildlife began their feeding ritual next to me.
Mule deer, just ahead of me, lifted their heads and twitched their ears as they heard the crunch of my boots through the snow. I could tell they were a little nervous as they shifted their bodies in a way that would allow them to bolt if necessary. Their actions caused me to angle my approach just enough to allow them to enjoy a sense of calm.
When my steers heard my sounds, they too raised their heads. Then they walked toward their crib and hesitated. Sometimes they get a little nervous when their corral is invaded by deer. On this night, they were very cautious because more than 30 deer grazed near them. So I called out their names as I approached. Yet, they stood still.
I walked forward, gathered six flakes of alfalfa hay from the barn, and threw it into the crib thinking they would follow their normal pattern of crashing forward to eat. Still, they stood. So I walked toward them in friendly greeting. They fidgeted nervously, so I stopped and stood still.
While standing, I remembered what an old cowman once said: “Cows have more time than cowboys, so cows always win.”
I decided to wait, to live in “cow-time.” What happened next was magical.
The evening became still. The air around the steers, the deer and me felt as if a low-pressure system had moved in. The deer put their heads down to graze and they sauntered around, just a few feet away from me, as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
And the steers? After a short time, they lowered their heads a little, fluttered their ears and walked right up to greet me. I reached out and rubbed the tops of their heads, right where they like it. They shook their heads up and down to show their delight.
The deer, just a few steps away from me, lowered their heads and twitched their ears as their anxiety faded. I could tell they were comfortable as they shifted their bodies in a way that would allow them to graze calmly. Their actions caused me to angle my approach just enough to allow them to enjoy a sense of calm.
Now this old cowman says, “Cows have more time than cowboys, so cows always win. But if you stop and live in cow-time with them, something magical will happen in your life.”
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.