Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

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November 24, 2012
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow's Ear 11-26-12


Don’t you love ranching stories? Usually they involve personal physical damage from critters or machinery or both.

Take Mike and Melissa who’d been married just two weeks. Mike worked in a public stockyard which handled cattle, sheep and hogs. His job included riding the alleys between pens, sorting, culling ... all the tasks required in a busy stockyard.

Melissa worked in the office but often helped out with other chores down in the yards. So when Mike asked if she could find time to paint the numbers on enclosures she said, “Sure! I can do that!”

“Great” said Mike and told her where to gather up supplies. “And Honey,” he added, “watch out for the bucks when you get to the sheep pens. They can get pretty cranky.”

“OK” said Melissa.

For the next while she painted artistic numerals on gates. Each needed to have a number showing on the outside and the same number on the inside. That way the figure could be read whether the gate was open or closed.

Arriving at the sheep pens (of which there were about a bazillion) Melissa happily wielded her brush. Sheep pens are low, a little less than waist high to an average size person. Painting the outside number, Melissa would then step inside to do the other which meant she turned her back on the critters enclosed therein. No problem. After all, these were sheep. (Unless they were hand raised most sheep will distance themselves from an encroaching human).

Well, no problem until she reached the ninth cubicle. Where the bucks were housed. They stood bunched up and grumbling.

Melissa painted the outside number and paying no attention to the gender of the ovines corraled in the pen, she opened the gate and stepped within, closed it and turned her back to the critters while she plied her brush.

As mentioned, sheep pens are low. Melissa worked from a slightly crouched position unaware of what was happening behind her.

Which is to say, one of the bucks couldn’t resist the sight of a derriere at the perfect height. He pawed the ground and, like the Lone Ranger’s speeding bullet, he zoomed across the space and butted Melissa’s ... er butt.

The force of the ramming lofted Melissa into the air and forward — a bit like being fired out of a canon, only not as comfortable. She flew over the gate and thudded to earth ... face down in the walkway ... where horses and cattle had walked before her. She didn’t want to eat dirt, but sometimes one can’t help it.

Mike, on horseback, had just turned the corner in time to see his darlin’ new wife flying like Wonder Woman. He hastened forward, swung off his steed and raced to Melissa’s side. Gently he turned her over. In a voice somewhat shaky with concern, he asked, “Are you alright?”

Did I mention that Melissa is a feisty woman? Which is to say, she doesn’t hold back when a situation calls for firm language.

To her husband of two short weeks, she replied in terms that cast aspersions on his ancestry, his life span, and the cut of his jib. She wound down her diatribe with the words, “And you can kiss my ... anatomy!”

P.S. They’re still married and over the years have acquired a wealth of stories. Somebody oughta make a movie ... ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Nov 24, 2012 04:00AM Published Nov 26, 2012 08:47AM Copyright 2012 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.