BeakSpeak Book

Legacy and “With much difficulty, I barely made out . . . “

Nine months after the bull arrived, eleven of my twelve heifers became cows. I had trouble with only one really small heifer. When I drove home to buzzards circling over the back of my property, I knew what that meant. I lost both that heifer and her calf because I was at school when she had to deliver. I just couldn’t be there to get someone to help either one. The calf had been born, but I don’t know if it was born dead or if the buzzards had anything to do with it. I had to shoot the heifer. I don’t want to go into what the buzzards did to her. To say the least, it was traumatizing, and I couldn’t get it out of my head for a very long time. It can still make me physically sick. That’s when I realized raising stock wasn’t all about raising cute little calves. Calving could have devastating consequences.

Because the cows seemed to like the back part of the forty acres best, I checked it carefully thereafter during calving season. Besides good coastal grazing, what the country folk call a tank was dug out back there, and the cows liked to keep cool in it when the sun blazed hot.

The cattle had better drinking water from the cow trough at the pens, so they really didn’t use the tank for watering. I kept gold fish in it to remove the algae.

Anyway, with time, since all my cows grew large and healthy, it became easy for them to calve. I even had a few sets of twins with no problems.

Sometime after the bull had come onto the scene, I retrieved Cuban Gold from Leesville. My New Braunfels’ teacher-friend, Claudia Perry, and I decided to go in together and breed her. We chose an award-winning, cutting stallion named Super CD from the Hawkins’ Ranch in Seguin. One year later, Cuban Gold foaled, and we named the filly Cuba’s Legacy by CD. She was known simply as Legacy from that day forward. Little Legacy was aptly named, because she had very long legs. She was a beautiful, head-strong, little thing, with a high-pitched whinny would melted your heart.

From the beginning, I was her caregiver, since she lived on my property, and Claudia was her trainer. Claudia had owned Arabians before and was very well versed in equine management.

One day, when I was learning how to make her pick up her hoof for me to clean out the frog (inside of her hoof) like the farriers do, Legacy kicked me square in the middle of my left thigh. To this day, I have a deep indention in that thigh. Eight years later I had to have surgery to remove the scar tissue.

Our farrier came out regularly to clean out both Cuba’s and Legacy’s hooves, as well as trim and rasp them. Legacy was never thrilled.

Meanwhile, Dillon continued to come visit, as much as he could, to spend time with the cows. He loved the calves and that golf cart more than any old horse, I think, and I loved having him over.

My job at school, however, was my top priority, so let me get back to some tips on concise writing. I spoke of Nothing-New Sue’s cliches in my last blog. This time I want to address Re-Say Renee’s problem: redundancy, or repetitiveness. I wonder how many of you caught my Re-Say error in that last blog, just as I was introducing the letter. I titled this one with it. What I should have said is one or the other: either “With much difficulty (I made the letter out)” or “I barely made it out.”

Concise language, according to the Redbook Handbook, “is writing that is not redundant, that doesn’t use unnecessary words, and doesn’t use empty or inflated phrases.” So Redbook recommends you reduce “clauses to phrases, and phrases to words” as often as you can. That makes you write much more effectively. You can extend your sentences, of course, just as long as you are adding new information. Here are some examples of editing for conciseness:

Poor sentence: The best teachers help each student become a better student both academically and emotionally.

Better sentence: The best teachers help each student grow both academically and emotionally.

You went from the phrase “become a better” to one word, “grow,” which helped the sentence move more actively and quickly. Let’s try another:

Poor sentence: It is imperative that all night managers follow strict procedures when locking the safe.

Better sentence: All night managers must follow strict procedures when locking the safe.

You went from a phrase to one word again. Let’s try another:

Poor: Three teachers that taught each and every hour at school today . .. ..

Better: Three teachers that taught every hour at school today . . .

You eliminated redundancy. Now let’s try one I found on Bing that’s a little more challenging. What makes it difficult is that you have to muddle through unnecessary words to figure out what the person means to say..

Poor sentence: Everything being equal, the members of the Student Council will think about the argument and come up with a final decision through a vote next week at an open meeting.

Better sentence: The members of the Student Council will have a final decision next week at an open meeting after the vote.

That’s where Bing leaves you. I contend, however, that Student Council implies its members, which makes that phrase redundant, and that, if you activate the verbs hiding in the nouns decision and vote, you’d have a much more active, effective sentence:

Best sentences: The Student Council will vote next week at an open meeting. OR The Student Council will decide next week at an open meeting.

My thinking is that the verb “decide” is better than the verb “vote” because decide is definitive. Vote allows for a possible tie. Isn’t this fun? I love playing with words. 🙂 They are like puzzles.

Anyway, you have dropped phrases, unnecessary words, redundant words, and cut to the chase, to use a cliche. 🙂 Whichever of the latter you choose to use, the sentence is clipped, concise, and direct. It is much easier to understand the meaning of that sentence than it was the one with which we started.

Re-Say Renee is just a pullet. She hasn’t gotten to this level of editing her speaking and writing problems, but she will get there because Ms. Goldspeak is her mentor and model. If you have a youngster in the 3rd through 5th grades, order BeakSpeak now. You can get it on Amazon. It comes with its own questions and answers in the back of the book that addresses conciseness in a more simplified form. Your child can even do the lesson without your help. The book does the job for you. If you have more than one child in that age group, you can download full-page questions and answers from my publisher’s website, http://www.ErinGoBraghPublishing.com/books/beakspeak. Help your child get the jump on speaking and writing now.

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