You can lead a cow to the pen, but you can’t make it go in

As a longtime sports reporter, I’ve had to learn the rules for plenty of sports which are unfamiliar to me.

Lacrosse? Think I got it.

Sailing? More or less figured it out.

Cricket? Not quite sure about that one.

So when I heard the rules for cow penning, I was relieved. It seemed pretty straightforward. A team of riders gets cows from one end of a pen into a smaller pen at the other end.

Simple enough.

However, watching the riders try to get the cows from point A to point B was pretty interesting, and at times downright hilarious.

See, cows are either much smarter, or much dumber than I give them credit for.

The cows likely had no idea they had numbers, designating which cows needed to be separated from the herd and put into the pen, on their back, but the ones whose number was up for penning sure did a good job of cramming amidst a bunch of other cows.

The first group of riders I saw go into the pen failed to get even one cow from one side to another, prompting the announcer to call in the girls who demonstrated how to do the sport back into the pen for another demonstration.

The next group managed to get two cows in and both were remarkably wearing the correct number.

The final group I got to watch, Dawyne and Lori Nelson and granddaughter Sararose Campanella, gave it everything they had. They got one of the correctly numbered cows to stand by the pen while they went after the others.

Problem was the cow eventually got wise (or bored) and wandered away from the pen, leaving them with a grand total of zero cows when their time was up.

Lori said it had been at least 10 years since they had last tried cow penning.

Hopefully the sport returns to the fair next year so they can take another crack.

Maybe I’ll even give it a try.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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