Exchanging Cattle Pleasantries on Old South Dakota Land

Cattle hands offer awkward exchange over lunch on homesteaders' South Dakota land.

| Good Old Days

To prove a claim a certain number of rods of fence had to be put up, so my father hired two young men to build fence on his South Dakota land. My mother provided dinner for the two workers, whom she described as "gentlemanly as could be, very nice boys." Of course, there was conversation around the table.

My mother recalled this incident:

"One noon as we were eating, some mention was made of how the cow had bawled that morning. One of the young men casually put the question, 'Is she with calf?'

"I froze! Never in my life had the menfolk in my family, or in any other that I knew of, raised such a question before the womenfolk. After a pause, I was able to say, 'I don't think so.'

"None of us could find a thing more to say for the rest of the meal. "Later the cow took care of the matter herself. She broke away from her stake and for a day joined the 'wild' cattle that grazed on the unfenced prairie. My friend and I rode horses out to the range and brought the cow home where she seemed content to stay." 

Lucile Houser
Tyler, Texas

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