The Last Round Up

My alarm sounded at 5:15am. I turned over and silenced it with a determined push of my finger. This day seemed in the distant future a month ago and had arrived much too quickly.   I lay in bed for a few minutes dreading putting my feet on the floor.  I knew that my feet touching the floor would set into motion the heart-wrenching plan that had been carefully thought through and about, down to every detail in previous weeks.

 

My dad, Morris Oliver, aka Papaw to our family, celebrated his 79th birthday last month. He has owned a cattle operation for forty years. Daddy built his herd over time while working as a heavy equipment operator.   My mother, Beverly was in banking and was very good at helping Dad keep up with the accounting side of the business.   Together, through trial and error, they learned the ins and outs of ranching.   As the years clipped by, we all knew an end would be reached one day…maybe, some day… the cattle would have to be sold. None of us liked to think about this chapter of our lives coming to a close. My siblings and my time with Dad at “The Pasture” has been a huge part of our upbringing as well as our own children’s upbringing. We have many precious memories that are centered on the 500+ acres of grazing land, which doubled as our playground.

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Several years ago, new development moved to Katy. As we witnessed many of the larger tracts being sold, our family became aware that the pasture would one day be developed as well, but seldom dwelled on that fact.   Within the past year, the thought has come to the forefront of our attention. Cane Island Parkway will open soon. The parkway is routed down the middle of the flat land that we fondly call The Pasture, to make way for more progress in and around Katy and the outlying towns. It was because of future progress that I dreaded getting out of bed.   I knew that by early afternoon, our lives would never be the same.

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I slowly put one leg and then the other into my jeans. Making my way to the kitchen, I poured myself a cup of hot coffee hoping that this would snap my sad self out of the funk in which I awoke. The aroma of the coffee brought the distant childhood memory of Daddy coming home from a hard day of construction labor, pouring his cup of coffee and heading to the pasture to check on the herd. Fighting tears at the thought, I quickly gathered my things, got in my car, and headed to Katy where I knew he would be waiting for me as he had been many times.  In the past, together we would count the cows, count baby calves, pick dew berries, hunt for deer, trap hogs, pick persimmons, check the pond, check the fences, shoot at coyotes, or hunt for antique bottles in the woods. At other times, we would just simply be.  Unlike past times, this day was strictly business. 

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For the first twenty years, my dad along with my brother, Sidney was able to manage a round up together. As Dad aged and the herd expanded, he hired a cowboy, Craig Zwahar along with several cowboys that work with Craig, to round up, work, and ship calves to the sale barn for him. Over the past twenty years, Craig has become a trusted friend to our family. Today, just as many, many times over the past twenty years, Craig and his men were at the pasture before sun up, with their saddled horses, cow dogs, and trailers, ready to ride. However, this day was going to be different.  The cows would not be worked and then turned back out to pasture. This would be the last round up as every animal was loaded and shipped leaving the pasture vacant for future progress.

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After the last animal was loaded onto the trailer, Craig put his hand on Daddy’s shoulder and gave him a sturdy squeeze and handshake.  He thanked my dad for his friendship and the years of fond memories that they had made working cattle together.  This chapter of life had indeed come to a close.  The trucks and trailers pulled away and we followed behind in their cloud of dust.  Daddy and I sat in silence on our way back to town.  I pulled into the small Midway grocery and bought each of us a cold, bottled, orange Fanta.  Back on the road that led home, we sipped in silence as 40 years of sweet memories were seen in the rearview mirror.

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About Sandy Byrd

I am a wife, mom, grandmother, aka "Honey". I am passionate about my role in life. I love to share my faith in Jesus Christ and His great love for all people. My writings are personal and come from my heart as I hope to share my vulnerable thoughts, struggles, and celebrations with you.
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21 Responses to The Last Round Up

  1. Tomi Oliver says:

    Sandy, we are at a grandspn’s ball gsme in Anilene . They are winning and I am crying . Bet the wonder why? You expressed the memories so well. In this part of Texas people are losing cattle and land to drought. Be thankful there will at least be a profit. Love Tomi

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Sandy Byrd says:

      Thank you, Tomi for following my blog! I always appreciate your thoughts and comments. I hope you all experienced tears of joy with a victory tonight!

      Like

    • Sandy Byrd says:

      Hope you all experienced a victory! Thank you for following my blog. It was a difficult day

      Like

  2. Janice Byrd says:

    Sweet memories…so beautifully expressed and documented with great photos!

    Like

  3. Denise mccombs says:

    Dear Sandy, I’m sorry dear friend you had such a hard day. But I loved how you described so beautifully all the memories you have with your dad. They will become more precious to you…thinking of your dad today too.

    Like

    • Sandy Byrd says:

      It was a bittersweet day for sure but God is faithful always and I continue to experience his grace and mercy daily. Thank you for thinking about us!

      Like

  4. Patsy J Jordan says:

    Oh my! Brought a tear too my eye as well. The pasture has been such a huge part of my brothers life for so many years. It’s hard to imagine His life without “The Pasture.”
    Thanks for the great blog as well as the great photos. All very much appreciated.

    Like

    • Sandy Byrd says:

      None of us can imagine life in Katy without The Pasture, for sure. I imagine it to be like an amputation. We’ve lost a leg, but together we will learn to walk again. Thanks for your comment Aunt Patti. It’s your turn to write!

      Like

  5. Lynn Roach says:

    Such joy you shared with us, your readers, of times gone by…oh, what a wonderful life!

    Like

  6. Beth Fraley says:

    What a great story – one that will be passed down through the years! Thank you for sharing these memories. Progress always comes with a price and is hard to see at times! I guess we just have to be thankful for all the years we have had “our pastures” and keep those times close to our heart.

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    • Sandy Byrd says:

      Thank you, Mrs. Fraley! You’re a great encouragement to me. All of the “old timers of Katy” have experienced this loss in some form or fashion. The key is to cherish the good memories and step through the next door because there is always something waiting. I appreciate your comment!

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  7. Patsy Williams says:

    Sandy, Thank you for sharing your God-given talent to put true stories into words that make us both happy and sad at the same time. What a heartfelt visit into your family’s life and the impact it had on all of you for the rest of your lives.

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    • Sandy Byrd says:

      I appreciate that you read my blog! Your words are a great encouragement to me. I’m sure you have many stories of your own and I would like to encourage you to put them in writing. I know for sure you have many Girl Scout memories as well as raising children in the country… THank YOU for being part of my life story!

      Like

  8. Cathy Gau says:

    Once again, as much as it hurts……time marches on. It’s gonna be hard to drive by and not see cattle there. Thanks for sharing this, and other stories. Your recollections are beautiful, and so fitting, for so many of our generation. You are an inspiration to us all! Hugs!

    Like

    • Sandy Byrd says:

      Time indeed marches on, Cathy! I wish I could stick my foot out and slow it down! I appreciate you following my blog and always appreciate your comments! Hugs back to ya!

      Like

  9. Val says:

    Sandy,

    Such a beautiful way to describe you and your family. I knew you would have come from a lovely family. Of course, you made me cry and will continue to be praying for you and your parents.
    Hugs, Val

    Like

    • Sandy Byrd says:

      Thanks you for reading, Val! Lauren said to me, “PLEASE blog about something happy. You are killing me.” I will work on being more upbeat in my next post for the sake of all the criers. Miss you!

      Like

      • Val says:

        Sandy,

        Your blogs come from your heart , tears are good they come from God!
        Keep writing from your heart.
        Hugs,

        Val

        Like

  10. Jennifer says:

    You made me cry – but thank you for sharing your day. I am sad now when I drive by and your dad’s cows are not there. We have all seen our share of things change in Katy but it seems to be happening at lightening speed right now. Hugs to you and your daddy – Jennifer

    Like

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