The One Who Checks the Pens

Photo courtesy

When it comes to feedin’ calves
There’s a lot of things one needs
Like sheltered corrals and drainage,
Clean water and good feed.
And in spite of k.d. lang,
Much to cattlemen’s relief,
Most of the population’s
Still into eatin’ beef.
But with truckin’ and the banker,
Feed and vet bills to be paid
And fluctuating markets
Seems there’s little to be made.
Yet in this risky business
The payoff may be double
If some keen observer
Is out there spottin’ trouble.

Someone who sees an ear down,
A glazed or runny eye,
Who checks the slightest limp
Or a head that’s held too high,
Spots icicles on tassels,
A tail turned to a rope,
A muzzle full of quills
Or a tendency to bloat,
Breathin’ that’s fast or raspy,
Snotty noses or dry coughs,
And who checks out any calf
Slow comin’ to the trough,
Who sees a switchin’ steer
Lumps that show up anywhere
And who takes the time to study
The sheen and lay of hair.

With eyes just like an eagle,
The penchecker makes the rounds;
Nothing goes unnoticed,
Not one blood spot on the ground.
And the red ink or the black
May very well depend
On the calf-smarts and the know-how
Of the one who checks the pens.

The One Who Checks the Pens was excerpted from Teamwork by Doris Bircham.