En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘Short Stories by Scott’ Category

Lost in the Woods

Posted by Scott on November 30, 2009

Lost in the woods: An adventure of two old cowboys searching for lost calves!

It was the spring time of the year when Harold and I were working cattle for days without much sleep. Our job was to move over four hundred head of cows, calves, and bulls from one section of pasture to another which happened to be on the other side of the canyon. The distance between these two pastures was over thirty miles. Harold and I along with about fifteen other hired hands could move these “beeves” about 15 miles a day.  It could be dusty, wet, and sometimes sleepless, most of the time a thankless job. This particular morning it was briskly cold. A sharp chill would cut right through my jacket which seemed to pierce my skin going directly into my bones. At times the chill seemed to get into my blood stream and would make me shiver from my head to my toes. I shouted to Harold, “I can’t get warmed up this morning. I wish that north wind would calm down.” I spotted in the camp hot tar black coffee on the fire and I thought to myself, “That will warm me up for the long day ahead”. You see, a cowboy almost has coffee running through his veins rather than blood. We live off of coffee in order to stay awake, alert, and when it is cold, it provides warmth for our soul.

The pastures we were working were in the valley down below the Sunhill Mountain range in southwestern Colorado. You could travel through hot ninety degree days in the valleys and enter thirty degree nights in the mountain area. Great area to run cattle, but the weather could change on you within minutes it seemed. Mr. Garret owned this cattle ranch called “Running Bar Ranch” and the ranch has been in his family for three generations. So, we all took great pride in tending to Mr. Garret’s cattle.

It was Harold and I’s job to see to it that every single cow, calf, and bull made it safely to the next pasture. We did not leave one calf behind if it was at all possible. Leaving a calf behind to die was like losing money and Mr. Garret frowned on that, plus he would dock our pay one days wages if he found out we had not tried to retrieve a lost calf. From time to time a calf would stray off into the woods at the foot of the mountain range. When that happened we would go into the woods after them. However, the calves would do this when no one was watching and we would find a cow not wanting to go with the herd. She would stand at the edge of the herd bawling towards the woods. That was our indicator a calf was in the thickets of the woods. Sometimes the momma cows would bed them down in the woods and other times the calves would simply wonder off in curiosity. Either way, our job was to go in after them.

I remember one balmy late spring afternoon just after the morning chill had finally given into the sunny warmth. We were driving our beeves north to far end of the pasture. We noticed about five momma cows refusing to follow in with the rest of the herd. They kept running towards the thickets to our west bawling loudly, but no calves could be seen or heard. I looked at Harold and motioned for him head towards the thicket after the calves and I would be there shortly.

I road my big fifteen hand brown horse on up towards the front to let one of the hired hands know where Harold and I would be and to keep moving the herd forward and we would catch up with them later that evening. So, I caught up with Harold and we moved slowly and methodically into the thicket. The trees and vines were so thick at times we had to get off our horses and go further on foot. Harold hollered out to me, “Where in the world could those five calves be?” I looked at him and just shrugged my shoulders in bewilderment myself. I had no clue. What some of these momma cows will do is take their babies off into the woods and bed them down together. But usually one momma cow would stay with them like a baby-sitter. However, this time it seemed all the calves were alone.

My thoughts immediately started thinking about how wolves or mountain lions possibly could have gotten some or all of the calves. No matter though, Harold and I would not stop until we had found all of the calves safe and sound or what was left of them as proof of their whereabouts.

It started getting late as the sun was just barely peeking over the mountain peak and we had been hunting for these calves for hours. It was starting to get cold again and a small thunder shower had formed just above us over the mountain range. Fortunately, we had packed our rain slicks for such an occasion. As the rain pelted our heads and soaked our boots, Harold heard a faint bawl of a young calf. We hurried in the direction of the cry over large rocks and around enormous boulders. There just on the other side of a jagged boulder he found two of the calves hung up in some of the thickest vines and trees we had encountered. Since we found them, what would we do with them? It was no easy trip up into the mountain range to start with. Harold or I could take these two calves back, but what about the other three. About that time two of our riders from the herd came clapity-clopping up next to us. “Do you guys need any help finding the calves?” one of the hands yelled. “Yes, you can take these two calves back to their mommas with the herd while Harold and I look for the other three calves.” One of the hands yelled back, “We figured with it getting so late and we had not seen you guys yet, you probably needed help.” So, they put the calves across their saddles right in front of them and off on their horses they went.

As Harold and I climbed higher and higher into the mountain area the thicket was extremely dense. The darkness seemed to fall like dark chocolate running down the sides of an ice cream cone. It was thick and heavy darkness. I pulled out an old flashlight I had stuck in my saddle bag hoping it would still work. It has been at least 6 months since I last used it. Sure enough, the flashlight worked, when all of the sudden, Harold let out an “eek” loudly. I yelled over to him to find out what was the matter. When from high above us on rock cliff was the biggest mountain lion I had seen in decades. The sound from this mountain lion would make your skin crawl. The big cat was positioned to jump on top of Harold. I grabbed the 30-30 Winchester from my saddle holster took aim and fired. I nicked the cat right on his behind. The cat took off up the trail above the rock cliff out of sight. I hurried over to Harold to make sure he was alright and of course he was.

About the time we were starting to head up and around the rock cliff, I heard something off in the distance. A faint but steady bawl from a young calf. Apparently, Harold and I had gone too far up in the mountains not realizing where the calves might be. So, back down the trail we went and found the other three calves safe and sound. Harold grabbed one calf and stretched it across his lap while I took the other two smaller calves and stretched them across my lap on the saddle. Off towards the herd we went.

As we traveled down the mountain side we came across a good trail that lead us right out of the thicket in the valley below. The herd was bedded down for the night about twenty minutes ahead, so we should be able to get back in time for supper. I looked over to Harold and said, “You know Harold, you and I out searching for these five calves tonight through the thicket, the vines, the boulders, the jagged rocks, and all reminds me of how Jesus seeks us out to save us for eternity”. I quoted Jesus from Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus’ mission all summed up in a few words. We came out into the mountain range to seek and to save that which was lost. The result was we found those calves and saved them from danger. Jesus does the same for his own people. “You see Harold; these calves were not looking for us. They may have known they were not in the right place, but did not know who to be looking for”, I spoke plainly to Harold. “People are the same way you know”. People don’t seek after to God. In their lost sinful state of being, they have not a clue they need Jesus”, I confidently exclaimed.

I pondered further about the subject for the next fifteen to twenty minutes until we got back to camp. Finally, arriving at the camp we put the calves back with their momma’s. All the bawling stopped as the calves and momma cows we joined together again. Thinking back over a Sunday-School lesson I heard about a son running off on his own lost to the world. The father speaking to the son’s brother quoting from Luke 15:32 says, “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.” About that time one of the other hired hands came wondering up to me and asked what I was thinking about. So, I simply told about how Christ had come to seek and to save the lost of this world. How Jesus talked about in Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” I told the hand Jesus would come after the one lost no matter what. I then turned to him and asked him simply, “Have you put your complete trust in Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior?” He just wrinkled his face in an expression of “I don’t know”. We left it at that. But the day’s affairs had made me think more about Jesus seeking out His lost people and how He would go through the thicket, across the rocks and boulders engaging Mountain Lions and all in order to save His own.

by scott bailey (c) 2009

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Early One Thanksgiving Morning!

Posted by Scott on November 27, 2009

The sun was rising early one winter morning over the eastern horizon just barely peaking above the tall pine trees like the glitter of a shiny new diamond ring. The temperature was below 30 degrees, and it felt as though icicles could form on the end of our nose. Although, you could see the smoke from our breath it seemed once in the air it just stopped in midair for a moment before finally floating away. The morning was deadly still, no wind at all. With every heartbeat you could feel the pains of freezing cold run through your veins.

My brother, Jake and I was up early at the edge of the woods watching down a small natural clearing between the pines for the largest Tom Turkey we had ever seen on the last hunt we took. Jake, my younger brother, had caught a quick glimpse of him once before and the last hunt in September, both of us saw him up closer. This turkey would feed a large family for days we thought. So, this morning, the day before Thanksgiving, we were determined to bag this old Tom and bring him home to feast on for Thanksgiving. Both of us had twelve gauge shotguns and three loaded shells total between us. So, we must be accurate and selective with our shots.

As we waited next to a couple of huge pine trees almost frozen to the tree from the cold, we heard a noise coming from behind us. It was a noise we had not ever heard before. It was the sound of a large giant grunting through the woods, bouncing off the trees, tumbling in the leaves, and splashing in the creek bed. At times it sounded as though there was more than one, but then at other times only one of whatever this was. Jake and I would watch intently behind as we tried to keep a corner of one eye down the lane for the old Tom Turkey.

In a brief moment of silence, we could hear in the distance the gobble call of a wild turkey. We rubbed the frozen fog out of our eyes to make sure our sight was as clear as possible in order to see the turkey. The sound seemed to get closer to the lane, but nothing was in sight yet. Behind us the noise was also getting closer. Jake and I were perplexed at what we should do…it seemed as though what was behind us would collide with us head-on about the time the turkey would come into the clearing just 50 yards down the lane.

I told Jake to move to his right just behind the tree next to the one near the clearing in order to get a better look behind us to see whatever was tumbling, grunting, and somewhat squeeling down the hillside. We could not imagine what it could be. One thought crossed my mind maybe it was another big turkey. Jake said it may be a stray cow wondering through the woods trying to get back to its herd. Neither of us were satisfied with those ideas, because the noises did not sound like a turkey or a cow. We had to focus on the turkey. Our main goal was to get the biggest Tom Turkey from those woods for our Thanksgiving feast.

All of the sudden the racket behind us finally stopped. We finally took a deep breath which almost froze our lungs as our focus went back to clearing and the call from a turkey. “Still no sign of a turkey”, Jake whispered. We looked all around as far as we could see through the clearing in order to spot the first sign of a turkey. The gobbling noise was getting closer, but still we could not even see the hint of a turkey. By this time, the smoke from our heavy breath seemed to freeze midair as it clouded our vision of the clear lane in anticipation of the wild turkey entering the lane with what we supposed would be splendor. As it seemed like a decade of time waiting for that turkey to come out into the clearing, Jake tapped me on the shoulder with a shaky kind of tap.

I shrugged off his attempts to get my attention for a moment as to indicate to him “stop and watch the clearing”. A few seconds went by when the tap on my should was more forceful and now quivering. So, in disgust I turned to give Jake a stern look of disgust, when I caught a whiff of a smell that was undescribable. The smell was similar to a packing plant, but the stinch was even worse than that. As I peaked over Jake’s shoulder I caught a glimpse of the largest nostriles I had ever been eye to nostrile with attached to one of the biggest, stinkiest, angriest wild hogs we had ever put our eyes on. There it was peering down at us on the ground, with a half cocked grin on its face, teeth gleeming just a bit, its breath fogging out the sides of its mouth like a steam engine train about to leave the station and with a glare in its red glowing eyes as though it had found fresh meat for its own winter feast. It was not moving, but my thoughts were “this beast is definately trying to decide which one of us to eat first”.

Jake was frozen in fear on the ground. He had a huge hunting knife on his belt, but could not move towards it for fear this wild beast would attack. To my surprise the wild hog was not attacking. It was glaring at us, mouth half cocked open, and breathing hard with a labored breath. I was not sure the smelly pig could even see us, but I was not willing to just set there and find out either. Knowing we could not get up and out run the horrible pig, very carefully and slowly I raised my twelve gauge shotgun just above Jake’s shoulder. Working carefully to move it forward so the end of the barrel of the gun was clear of the side of Jake’s face while pointing it directly in the face of this wild beast. What seemed to be huge chunks of time slowly passing by was only a few seconds. As I was trying hard to steadily pull the trigger, all of the sudden without warning something startled the hog and the hog jumped backwards and my shot fired directly through the left ear of the stinking beast. The hog ran off tumbling on the ground and bouncing off the trees grunting and squeeling as it ran the opposite direction up the clearing. Our guess at the time was the hog weighed in around 155 pounds. This was a big hog. “We could have eaten that big hog”, Jake confidently exclaimed. I told Jake the hog was much closer to eating us than we were of eating him. Let us just be thankful the hog is gone. We came to get a turkey anyway.

Now, Jake and I figured the shot of the gun would have destroyed our chances with the old turkey down the lane. Jake looked down the clearing and saw the head of a turkey picking something up off the ground through the tall tickle weeds lining the clearing. He rubbed his eyes again to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing and sure enough, it was that huge Tom Turkey. About the same time as our shot a big gust of wind came up from the direction of the turkey. Apparently the shot of our gun had been muzzled by a number of factors including the strange wind and the turkey had not heard the shot.

About the time I got a good glance at the turkey, he started moving up towards us just outside the tickle weeds and johnson grass pecking pebbles and seeds off the ground on his way towards us. My thoughts going through my mind was, “Lord, on this day will You deliver this turkey into our hands?” “You, Lord, always know our needs and You know this Thanksgiving my family has nothing to eat. You always make a way for Your people don’t You?” I knew in the back of my mind the wild hog that got away would have supplied meat for our family too, but Jake and I were especially wanting that turkey.

We are now down to two loaded shells for this turkey. My thoughts went towards mom back home with our three younger sisters and my grandfather who is in bed ill from cancer. My dad had died in an accident at the local mill several years before and the old farm house was cold, drafty and musty. It seems when the wind picks up from the north it comes right into our old house without any trouble, swirling around everyone’s head and does not stop going through our house until it exits the other side. The living room is where most of the family stays all day and the cold wind always seems to swirl vigorously around the room as we cover in blankets and huddle closely to the fire built in the little pot bellied stove. The vinyl on the kitchen flooring would raise up from wood as the wind tried to get into the house from underneath. What wallpaper was left on the walls flapped to the breeze of the strong north winds. The lighting in the old house was minimal at best. The owner of the home was an elderly man at the next farm and he could not afford to replace anything in the home and really we were grateful he was allowing us to rent the place in return for taking care of some of his cows and a few pigs on the old farm.

Today, however, if this old turkey continues in the direction he is moving, we will feast tomorrow with enough food to warm our bellies and help us to celebrate in true thankfulness for what God has given to us this day. Sure, we have lots to be thankful for already, but would it not be nice to say grace over a big turkey God provided for Jake and I to hunt down?

My thoughts cleared up and I could refocus on the turkey still moving up the lane was within twenty feet of us. Jake told me to take the first shot and he would back me up if I missed. I zeroed in on the old Tom Turkey, placed my steady trigger finger firmly on the trigger. What seemed to take me hours I knew was only split seconds in pulling the trigger, calmly and methodically I aimed at the head of the Tom Turkey, when all of the sudden out of the brush with a fluttering motion and noise from within itself a fine looking ringneck shot up right next to the turkey causing the old Tom to run off into the weeds while at the same split second I fired off my shot. I could not believe Jake and I had been out in that clearing since before the dawn of the day, in the bitter cold, nearly eaten by a wold hog, and now this old turkey was getting away again. Jake and I never recall seeing many pheasant in that area of the woods before. For that matter we do not recall ever seeing any wild hogs roaming those woods either. What a disappointment this morning has been. Such anticipation on getting that big old turkey and now it is gone. I quietly exclaim, “Could that old turkey just be a ghost turkey or something? No one seems to be able to kill it.”

Jake and I packed up our stuff and headed back towards the house empty-handed with one final loaded shell in Jake’s gun. We were extremely disappointed. With our heads dropped low and our walk kind of dragging we made our way back towards the house. Our family would not eat very well this Thanksgiving. My mind began to wonder as I began to remember the promises I had heard from the stories momma told us about God. Promises like He would never leave me alone by myself or forget about me. Other promises like our Lord would feed us when we were hungry, give us clothing when we need clothing, and shelter from the elements when we needed it. Momma always said no matter what, God would take care of His own and we needed to be found faithful and obedient to Him above eerything else. The further we walked towards home I took great comfort and peace in those promises. I could tell Jake was not as convinced as I was, but he would learn. I reminded Jake about those promises momma had read to us from the big Bible in the living room about how God would provide food for us and put food on the table this Thanksgiving and probably even better food than what we were hunting for that morning. Discussing this for a moment it seemed to lift our spirits and we raised our heads as we picked up the pace heading home.

As we climbed up a small hill on the path back to our house, we heard something strange coming towards us on the path just behind a patch of dried up sunflowers. All of the sudden out of nowhere a much larger Tom Turkey was pecking around on the lane right in front of us. The turkey had not seen us or heard us yet, but as soon as the turkey rounded the corner I had my eyes on him. Jake was not bashful either. He knew exactly what he needed to do and he confidently put his finger on that trigger without much of a thought and he fired of his gun. The last loaded shell we had was now spent towards this big old turkey. For me, it seemed like I could see each and every little ball of BB’s from that shell move through the air towards the turkey. All of our hopes was in that last shot. Jake had nailed the Tom Turkey dead. Feathers fluttered up into the air like dust from a storm. Both of us looked towards each other with a confident smile as though we had never doubted this moment would come. As Jake was picking the old turkey up, he looked at me with a strange, but satisfied look. “Well, we can eat well tomorrow”, Jake said loudly.

Jake further said, “God knows exactly what He is doing. This turkey is far bigger, younger, and better than the other one was”. Looking back I started to see God’s providential hand in the entire hunting experience. We only had three loaded shells on us. I started to conclude that God caused that old hog to come right on top of us, but did not allow the hog to attack us, yet He had us waste a shell trying to kill the beast. Then He directed the big Tom Turkey up the path right beside a pheasant and allowed that turkey to get away. God knew we were down to one bullet shell and was disappointed in our failure on the hunt. All the time God knew He had a bigger and better turkey up that path for us. He wanted me down to my last bullet so I had to rely on Him for the provisions for our Thanksgiving dinner. God is His infinite wisdom was building a faithful character in Jake and I that morning unlike any other time in our lives. As Jake and I took off half way running towards home, I simply looked up to the sky and quietly spoke, “Thank You my God for providing for us this Thanksgiving. Thank You, Lord, for proving my momma right as she told us about the promises you make to us when we are faithful to You”.

Our family was humbly thankful to God for providing us with such a treat as that big delicious turkey. It had so much meat on it we ate turkey for three weeks savoring each bite. I can tell you Jake and I have never doubted God’s hand on our lives from that day forward. We trust He always is working His perfect plan to the end and we need to step in and take part in whatever He is doing.

scott bailey (c) 2009

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