I’ve been helping my Dad sort and downsize for a move. We tackled his study first. As he and I went through books and photographs and cleaned out cupboards and drawers we came upon lots of treasures. It was interesting to hear Dad’s stories about them.
This cowbell is probably even older than my father. When he was a young boy it was his job to take the cows to the pasture in summer. About a dozen families in the village of Gnadenthal in southern Manitoba jointly owned a large tract of fenced-in pasture land at the west end of the village. Each family took turns in the mornings and evenings herding the cows to and from the pasture. My Dad did the job when it was his family’s turn.
After their own cows were milked Dad would get on his horse General, ride to the pasture and open the gate. Then he’d go to the east end of the village and start ringing his cowbell. This was a signal for the farmers along the village street to bring their cows out. At each house, that family’s cattle would join the caravan.
Although the cows all knew their way to the pasture instinctively and usually walked in docile fashion down the length of the village and through the pasture gate, Dad had his dog Rover along to help round up any stray cows that might think it was a good idea to graze in the ditch a bit on the way. Once all the cows were through the pasture gate Dad closed it.
In the evening around four o’clock, he repeated the whole process in reverse, opening the pasture gate and riding behind the cows as they plodded home to their respective farmyards.
My dad has kept his family’s cowbell all these years. I didn’t even know he had it. I am looking forward to telling the story of the cowbell to my grandchildren.