Posted by: patwogan | October 24, 2008

My Pioneer Spirit

Part of the school curriculum in Kansas required that every student be taught Kansas History in the Fourth Grade.  I have always loved history and especially liked the thought that pioneers had settled the very land on which I lived. 

I had a good friend, Marvin Garner, who lived about a quarter of a mile away from me.  That was a close neighbor in the country about like across the street is in town.  Marvin and I played together a lot.  He had a toy farm set and a big tree with exposed roots that made good garages for toy cars.  I loved to play in the dirt with his farm set and toy cars.  We used our imaginations and played “pretend” a lot.  He was also my walking home from school buddy. 

While we were taking Kansas history, we got the idea to build a sod house in my pasture.  It didn’t sound too hard.  All we had to do was dig up blocks of sod and stack them up to make a house.  This would be a much better play house than the small calf shed we used at the time.  So we started to construct our sod play house.  We got about five blocks laid for the foundation when we noticed the cows were running across the pasture toward us. 

Now we didn’t have a large herd of cattle, but the “boss cow” had horns.  She looked like Elsie the Borden cow without the chain of flowers around the neck.  The main point was she had horns.  As with most cows, Elsie was very curious.  Marvin and I were in her pasture, on her turf, so to speak, and doing something unusual.  She came to see what we were doing.  Now, if she had just ambled by herself over to the construction site of our sod house, it would probably have been okay.  But she didn’t.  She started running over and as the boss cow goes, so does the rest of the herd.  To Marvin and I, who had seen too many cowboy movies, it looked like a stampede.  I think at the time there were probably ten cows in our herd and the sight of ten cows running at what we thought was full speed toward us was very scary.  So we did what any wise sod house builders would do.  We ran.  We ran for the fence that surrounded the cow pasture. 

Now the fence was a barbed wire fence as were most fences around pastures.  It seemed to us that the faster we ran, the faster the cows ran.  So in our minds, we were running for our lives.  We had nice tight fences around our pasture and when we arrived at the fence, we had to hurriedly climb between the wires.  As I climbed through the wires, my leg caught on a barb of the wire.  It cut my leg right along the inside of my shin.  The cut was about three inches long and fairly deep.  But our lives were safe from the stampeding cattle.  When the cows got to the fence, they just stood there and looked at us.  Elsie didn[‘t look quite as dangerous as she stood swishing her tail and chewing her cud. 

We never did finish the sod house.  In our minds it was just too dangerous to risk.  Besides, the calf shed worked okay for a playhouse.  That sod house idea also turned out to be more difficult than it sounded in the history books.  No wonder the idea of sod houses just didn’t pass the test of time. 

I still have the scar on my leg as a reminder of that day in the pasture pretending to be pioneers.   To allay any fears you might have about our dangerous herd of cattle, they were not.  Our imaginations just got carried away.  These were the same cows that were milked in our barn morning and night.



  1. Pat, this was the cutest story you have told! I could just see you running across the pasture. I was smiling the entire time I was reading. Keep up the good stories. By the way, congrats on the new grandbaby on the way. From what I’ve read, your girl is not feeling that good. I pray she feels better soon. Nella

  2. Ten running cows with horns, you should still be wise enough to leave the pasture. Did you use the cow’s tail tuft to create sutures to stitch your own wound. That would have been the real pioneer in Kansas way.

  3. Oh mom, I have tears running down my face I am laughing so hard. I can absolutely picture this! Hysterical.

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