Politicians who run on a platform of hope and change don’t realize that hope never put beans in the pot, or that change is not always for the better. This past week is a great example of that as well as how much of a roller coaster ride working as a cowboy can be. At 9PM Sunday night I was contacted by a local ranch to work am eight-day stretch branding calves. Tuesday morning I loaded the horses and headed out to the ranch.
By 10:00 we had the calves sorted off and started branding in a 30 mph wind. The colt I was roping off of is broke well enough that I can ride him with only a light rope around his neck. Dragging calves to the fire is the only ranch work this colt had not done. He is good enough, and so calm about everything, someone is always wanting to buy him. I heeled the first calf and he acted like he had been doing it for years…The second calf was a bit different.
With the wind blowing so hard the loop didn’t travel and was just hanging on his hips. No big deal, just adjust the horse and have the calf back up into the loop. About that time, a gust of wind came up, hard enough to blow the rope up into the air as the calf turned around and managed to get the loop halfway down his body, as another calf tripped over the rope and pulled it down too tight for him to walk through it. I knew that under the conditions, this was over the colt’s head, so I stepped off to try and take the rope off, but the manager hollered out to bring him. I stepped back on and that is where the “change” began.
A gust of wind blew up a cloud of dust which recuced vision to zero and the calf ran around the colt who decided to try his hand at being fast. My first reaction was to flip the rope around to the other side, but between the wind and a bad shoulder, that didn’t happen. Concentrating on getting rid of my rope without getting tangled up, or having coils on the ground for someone else to get tangled up in, I lost focus of where I was at for the next three bounds. That is until I knew I was not going to stay with the turn at the end of the pen.
As I saw the two-inch pipe making the top rail of the fence, I thought “No problem, I’ll just flip over the fence.” However rather than going over the rail, I tested its structural integrity with my ribs. As I was lying on the ground breathing like a cow dying of pneumonia, the manager asked if I was OK, to which I replied “No, but I will be, how’s the fence?”
A few minutes later I was back to vaccinating calves. I decided not to work on Wednesday as I couldn’t get my truck in gear to drive back out. Thursday I managed to get saddled up to help gather. Now usually getting horseback has always made me feel better no matter how bad I feel. However this was not the case, but I made it through another day.
Friday, we were to gather a fairly decent sized pasture of around eight sections. Once again on the gentle colt, the cattle scattered. Going at a long trot the colt stumbled, and that was when I discovered what real pain is. Real pain is when it is so sharp that you pee your pants. Not much, but you just lose control of your bodily functions. Now I had been hoping to make it through the next four days of the works, but that was when I changed my mind and decided that this would be my last day of this works.
On the way home, my situation changed once again. Halfway home my steering suddenly became stiff. I pulled over to discover that the bracket holding the smog pump on had broken. Crawling under the truck I managed to untangle the fan belt and salvage it. After bracing myself mentally and several tries, I managed to get out from underneath the truck, and in a few more minutes was actually standing up. The rest of the way home was made in stages. When the truck started getting too warm, I would kick it out of gear, turn it off and coast as far as I could, then sit there and wait for the engine to cool down.
My first stop in town, before dropping off the horses, was at Napa, hoping to buy a new bracket. That hope changed to hoping I can find a used bracket in town as Ford no longer makes that part for 1995 pickups. I also have a new hope, that my book sales drastically pick up over the next couple of months so we can keep one nostril above the financial seas of inequity. If you like reading true things about life as a modern-day cowboy, and also like to laugh, you can do so (while helping a broken down old cowboy at the same time) by going to the Texas Crossroads Gathering website’s Agritainers Sales page and buying my books. It will also help the cause of the gathering as 4% of the sale goes to Crossroads. I thank you for your support!