In the words of the former President Bush, “We celebrate the cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”
Every year on the fourth Saturday in July, western fans across the country celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy. Established in 2005, the day was set aside to honor the contribution of the "cowboy" and "cowgirl" to America's culture and heritage.
This year it fell on July 22, Allen's 48th birthday. Appropriately, "working cattle" was at the top of the day's agenda. Allen's father, Larry, had cows that needed to be wormed, young calves that required vaccinations and older calves that needed to be loaded and hauled to the Gonzales Livestock Market.
Despite an extraordinary, lingering headache and a few other minor aches and pains following his initial intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatments, Allen insisted on being a part of the "roundup." Raising and managing cattle is in his blood. His grit and determination is unyielding, which is indicative of a true "cowboy."
He had just spent three days, 6 hours per day, at the Central Texas Neurology Consultants' Infusion Suite hooked up to an IV to treat the neuromuscular issues he's been experiencing. Almost immediately following the treatments, he began to notice some subtle changes with the function of his hands. His neurologist, Dr. Adam Horvit, who's expression and tone is typically very "neutral," seemed physically excited about the news, which renewed our hope for a more positive outcome.
Regaining control of some finger movements gave Allen the ability to button his shirt more easily, open the tractor door with one hand (instead of two), and grasp the steering wheel while raising a few fingers to "wave" at passing cars, as polite "country folk" do.
The wrangling went reasonably well, thanks to some amazing teamwork. Everyone had a task. Communication and cooperation, amid the intense heat and dense cloud of dust and flies, was the key to successfully corralling, sorting, treating and loading the cattle.
Our neighbor, Conrad, who has a small herd locally that we help manage, and Michaela, our daughter studying pre-vet, assisted Allen and Larry. Larry's girlfriend, BJ, also offered a helping hand, while Mackenzie and I provided moral support and captured the moments.
Allen's birthday "bash" occurred when a calf straddling the post being used to block the calves from backing up in the shoot got hung up. Allen tried to ease the post out while the calf struggled to get its feet back on the ground. In the process, the calf landed directly on the opposite end causing a "seesaw" reaction resulting in Allen's chin, mouth and nose being grazed by the end of the post, knocking him to the ground. It was intense for a few moments, until the "stars" disappeared and Allen was reassured by Michaela that he still had all his teeth intact...although they were covered in blood from his cut lip.
All's well that end's well. Nine calves were delivered to the auction without further incident and the crew was able to dine, with cow-dung-covered, sweat-drenched clothes, at the Cow Palace, while laughing at the mishaps of the morning and making precious memories!
"The best way to describe a cowboy is mud, guts, blood and glory." ~ Redneck