Country artist Miranda Lambert sings a song about how everybody dies famous in a small town.
If you live in a small town, you know that word travels fast. With the advent of social media, it can travel even faster. Last month I was traveling home from Little Rock and my husband called to tell me in a rainstorm the river had risen quickly. Our cattle had not been able to get to high ground fast enough and were literally swimming down the river in extreme distress.
Cattle are good swimmers and as they came to low spots in the river they began climbing out. All. Over. Goshen, Ark. The first calls came from Waterford (a residential subdivision) on the edge of Goshen. There were so many people out gawking at the spectacle, it made it difficult to calmly get the cattle moving out of the neighborhood.
Later, we received calls all the way in Springdale where some of our animals were roaming other developed neighborhoods. Thankfully they were all tagged so they were easy to identify. They were stressed and not easily approached. This happed on a Sunday evening and by dark my husband was overwhelmed with how many we were still missing and all the places they’d scattered.
On Monday, a couple of cowboys, friends and neighbors helped him round several of them up in areas where we had received phone calls. We posted videos the night before to every social media we could think of to spread the word to contact us if cattle were spotted so we could come pick them up. Several days of setting up temporary round pens, cowboys roping and just plain running around, we had located about 75 percent of herd. At that point, we were still missing our Beefmaster bull and several other cow/calf pairs.
As the week progressed, more of our cattle had found other herds in the neighboring community and gotten into pastures with other cattle. This was the easiest situation because they were calm and easily separated to trailer back home to our farm. It is/was the craziest thing we have ever experienced with our cattle. On a scale of 1 to 10, my husband’s stress level is probably still at a 12.
Here are the positives from this wacky experience. 1) We have incredibly kind neighbors. People showed up to help with horses, ropes and trailers. Too many to count but we are very thankful. 2) We have located all except 10 animals – five cows and five calves. Likely, they were swept under by the river and may be dead. This makes me sad but at least we know they aren’t terrorizing residential areas of town. 3) Social media was a blessing in getting the word out around that area to help us locate the animals. Word travels fast. 4) Washington County animal control was on speed dial and contacted us at every turn to aid us in getting them rounded up. We are fortunate these officers went above and beyond to help us in our time of need.
If you were one of the kind strangers who helped us in this endeavor – thank you! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! If my husband ever chooses to run for political office in Washington County, he will be best known as the guy who had a herd of cattle swept down the White River and scattered all over Fayetteville for two weeks. Everybody dies famous in a small town, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’