Livestock are kings of the road | TheFencePost.com
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DeLila Lumbardy
Recluse, Wyo.

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Livestock are kings of the road

Roger Miller may have thought the train hoppin’ free spirited fellow he sang about in his 1965 hit was King of the Road, but out in the wide open spaces where many Fence Post readers live, we know better. In these vast acres of grasslands and pine trees it’s obvious to everyone who the real King of the Road is.

The King may wear a different colored coat on occasion, but whether he’s black, red, white, or a combination of any of the above, he still seems to know he blows the most snot and flings the most dirt. It’s impossible to miss his John Wayne attitude as he propels his 1,800 pounds slowly across the sandy road in front of you. Or if he’s feeling especially obstinate that day, he may not think twice about planting his solid body firmly in front of your grill guard with no intentions of going anywhere.

You can lay on your horn (if you have one that works), beat the outside door of your vehicle (dents are irrelevant anymore) or madly wave your cowboy hat (which over the years has become less threatening to him than a horse fly). But don’t despair; these tactics will create a response – most likely an annoyed, flippant maneuver of his tail, which if you are lucky won’t have any residue attached that could be aimed dead center for that arm that’s still beating on the door in rhythm to the words you’re expressing.

Call it Murphy’s Law, but these situations inevitably occur when you are already 15 minutes late to the dentist appointment which you had to schedule three months in advance for that painful molar you’ve been putting up with. When it happened last time, they not only said they couldn’t fit you in once you did show up, but they spouted a policy where they now have to charge you regardless. And call it Murphy’s Law again – when it’s inevitable you are going to have to get out of your vehicle and show this critter who’s really boss it’s always following a gentle two day rain (that at lunch you thanked God for providing). The heavy, sticky gray, glob of gunk is now encasing both of your new Justin boots which of course you haven’t had time to waterproof.

It’s my opinion that we’ve created these unyielding bovine monsters ourselves by erecting an unending number of yellow and black signs, more or less announcing to the world that livestock reigns. There’s a 14 mile stretch of road up the way from my place that hosts 12 different signs with six ways of saying that livestock rules.

There’s the first sign that says “Caution Cattle.” A mile down the road another one states, “Livestock at Large.” Then there’s the one of a picture of a cow. Instead of the government employee using his noggin and pointing her in the direction of the ditch, oh no – she’s headed straight to the road. Another mile and 25 stubborn cows later there’s yet another sign. “Open Range – Loose Stock.” How can we blame these critters for getting a head so big it won’t even fit into a 7-3/4 Stetson?

What really baffles me is why we go to such lengths to warn the public (most of who couldn’t find these roads if they wanted to) of the impending danger of hitting a beast. There are more signs on that 14 mile stretch of road than there will be public vehicles in a month’s time. If I am fortunate enough to see another vehicle out on these one-lane dirt roads it’s a neighbor on his way to check a windmill or find a springin’ heifer. If you’re from these parts where cattle might outnumber people 20-1, you know the risks. No one from around here has to ask, “Where’s the beef” – it’s usually right in front of you.

Roger Miller may have thought the train hoppin’ free spirited fellow he sang about in his 1965 hit was King of the Road, but out in the wide open spaces where many Fence Post readers live, we know better. In these vast acres of grasslands and pine trees it’s obvious to everyone who the real King of the Road is.

The King may wear a different colored coat on occasion, but whether he’s black, red, white, or a combination of any of the above, he still seems to know he blows the most snot and flings the most dirt. It’s impossible to miss his John Wayne attitude as he propels his 1,800 pounds slowly across the sandy road in front of you. Or if he’s feeling especially obstinate that day, he may not think twice about planting his solid body firmly in front of your grill guard with no intentions of going anywhere.

You can lay on your horn (if you have one that works), beat the outside door of your vehicle (dents are irrelevant anymore) or madly wave your cowboy hat (which over the years has become less threatening to him than a horse fly). But don’t despair; these tactics will create a response – most likely an annoyed, flippant maneuver of his tail, which if you are lucky won’t have any residue attached that could be aimed dead center for that arm that’s still beating on the door in rhythm to the words you’re expressing.

Call it Murphy’s Law, but these situations inevitably occur when you are already 15 minutes late to the dentist appointment which you had to schedule three months in advance for that painful molar you’ve been putting up with. When it happened last time, they not only said they couldn’t fit you in once you did show up, but they spouted a policy where they now have to charge you regardless. And call it Murphy’s Law again – when it’s inevitable you are going to have to get out of your vehicle and show this critter who’s really boss it’s always following a gentle two day rain (that at lunch you thanked God for providing). The heavy, sticky gray, glob of gunk is now encasing both of your new Justin boots which of course you haven’t had time to waterproof.

It’s my opinion that we’ve created these unyielding bovine monsters ourselves by erecting an unending number of yellow and black signs, more or less announcing to the world that livestock reigns. There’s a 14 mile stretch of road up the way from my place that hosts 12 different signs with six ways of saying that livestock rules.

There’s the first sign that says “Caution Cattle.” A mile down the road another one states, “Livestock at Large.” Then there’s the one of a picture of a cow. Instead of the government employee using his noggin and pointing her in the direction of the ditch, oh no – she’s headed straight to the road. Another mile and 25 stubborn cows later there’s yet another sign. “Open Range – Loose Stock.” How can we blame these critters for getting a head so big it won’t even fit into a 7-3/4 Stetson?

What really baffles me is why we go to such lengths to warn the public (most of who couldn’t find these roads if they wanted to) of the impending danger of hitting a beast. There are more signs on that 14 mile stretch of road than there will be public vehicles in a month’s time. If I am fortunate enough to see another vehicle out on these one-lane dirt roads it’s a neighbor on his way to check a windmill or find a springin’ heifer. If you’re from these parts where cattle might outnumber people 20-1, you know the risks. No one from around here has to ask, “Where’s the beef” – it’s usually right in front of you.