Bicycle Cow–A Ranching Memory

“A grayish brindle cow with up-right horns: that’s what your grandma’s Bicycle Cow looked like.”

orange and blue chevrons

I think this painting might resemble the cow my granddad was referring to. Bicycle Cow descended from a line of cows that had survived the flood of 1908 when the Red River jumped its banks and hundreds of cattle and other livestock were lost. This particular cow’s grandmother had managed to reach higher ground when the river flooded. The cattle stood in water up to their knees, but they survived. I like to imagine that Bicycle Cow’s grandmother was the hero and led the other cows up the hill to safety, but who knows what really happened. Grandma’s Bicycle Cow was from a long line of survivors that is for sure.

Granddad likes to tell the story of how Bicycle Cow got her name, the day that Grandma was bringing water to him while he was fixing the fence. “I saw your grandma head into the pasture,” Granddad recalls, “and about the time she came through the gate, our horned cow saw her, too. From the look on the cow’s face she had never in her life seen a woman on a bicycle and she had certainly never seen one in her pasture. That cow stood on her tiptoes, head raised, smelling the air. She headed to where your Grandma had just gotten back on her bike. When she looked up and saw the cow coming her direction, she abandoned the bicycle and climbed over the fence, letting the cow have a good long look at the bike up close and personally, while she stood on the road.” Ever since Grandma gave her bike to the cow, they always called the cow Grandma’s Bicycle Cow.

That cow is long gone, but we still ranch and patch fence. My sisters and I are the fourth generation to run cattle here. Currently we raise registered Brangus and commercial cattle. I am blessed to live this life I love: ranching and making art.

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