My 21st Century Cattle Drive
Two Miles Smith Farm Scottish Highland steers traveled 2,000 miles from New Hampshire to Sedalia, Colo. The steers, Walter (left) and Gilligan (right), a birthday present for Kristi Wiebe, made it to their new home just in time. Photo by Kristi Wiebe
A grand gesture loses grandeur when the presentation goes awry. Then it becomes a wet firecracker, a towering foul ball, an uncompleted pass. So when a guy named Darcy in Sedalia, Colo., decided to give his wife, Kristi, a couple of my shaggy, long-horned Scottish Highland steers, they had to be presented on her birthday – February 26.
Kristi is a photographer who fell in love with Highland cattle, among the most picturesque creatures on earth. She had been longing for a pair of her own.
Darcy searched for a pair of Highlanders to give Kristi on her birthday but couldn’t find any in his area, but an online search uncovered Miles Smith Farm. He selected two of my steers, Walter and Gilligan, from my website, called me, and arranged delivery. Darcy insisted that the boys arrive before Kristi’s birthday.
People buy my cattle for many reasons, but this was my first birthday-surprise sale. I knew it would be hard to find a commercial trucker to make the 2,000-mile, 30-hour drive (without stops) from New Hampshire to Colorado in time. Since we were delivering a cow to Harley, a friendly Ohio farmer, we brought Walter and Gilligan along. They’d stay at Harley’s farm, and a commercial trucker would finish the delivery, about 1,200 miles. I made the arrangements.
But then the trucker rescheduled the trip for the week after Kristi’s birthday. Darcy was adamant. The steers must arrive by Feb. 26. Plan A had failed. We needed a Plan B.
Colorado or Bust
How could I get these steers from Ohio to Colorado? Hitchhiking wouldn’t do. Who would stop to pick up two loose steers? Maybe we could drape a sign around their necks, “Colorado or Bust,” or “Steer me to Sedalia.” That might work until Walter and Gilligan wandered off in search of grass. No, hoofing it wasn’t an option. A serious challenge required a serious solution.
That’s when Harley sprang into action. After several phone calls, he found a local trucker who would transport the steers halfway. With the steers in a stock trailer, the driver would meet Darcy in Joplin, Mo., where the steers would transfer to Darcy’s trailer. If Plan B worked, Darcy would return to Colorado by Feb. 25, just in time.
Then on the morning of the 25th, Darcy’s stock trailer blew a wheel bearing in Wichita, Kan., so he had to find someone to fix it. “The boys are doing good. Walter is a very sweet boy. He licks my head when I water and feed them. I can’t believe how relaxed they are given how long they have been on the road,” Darcy wrote in an email.
Plan B worked. They made it to Sedalia in time, and, according to Darcy, Kristi was “over the moon.” Walter and Gilligan now have a forever home in Sedalia. Walter, with fluffy red hair and brindle-colored (brindle is a mix of black and red hair) Gilligan, with wide horns, will be impressive subjects for Kristi.
All’s well that ends well. Birthday girl Kristi will get to create stunning photos of these boys. I can’t wait to see her work. And kudos to Darcy for coming up with such a fantastic gift. What a special guy!