Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 8-15-11
August 15, 2011
Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” And one of my former students has a big fight inside his tall lanky frame. Young Blake probably doesn’t weigh over 150 pounds soaking wet, but he’s very muscular and doesn’t carry an ounce of fat. He was a spring- loaded ball launcher on the basketball court and outplayed many opponents that outweighed him by 50 pounds. Part of his inner toughness is genetic. But a lot of his has been ingrained into him by his ag teacher daddy who had him working livestock and driving a tractor long before he had his drivers license.
He was home from college the other day when his dad decided to wean some calves. After picking them up from another property, Blake’s dad, Barry, backed the trailer up to the pens but didn’t get it close enough to close the gap completely. So they moved a short fencing panel into that space. His mom volunteered to stand in the gap but the menfolk declined, saying that the cows would surely run down the aisle and into the open pens. And they did … all but one.
Instead of turning right and entering the pen, one calf turned left and flipped over the top of the panel and trotted off. Everyone scattered, closing gates to prevent any other animals from following suit and to see which way the renegade had gone. It had run across the field and met up with another bunch of calves penned up in a little trap. Blake and his parents tried to coax the escapee back to where it was supposed to be, but every time they got close, it turned and scampered back.
By this time, the 350 pound steer had developed a cocky attitude and seemed to be enjoying outwitting his captors. He sashayed behind some round bales. While he was back there, they could hear him hitting the fence. They were hoping he’d go back through the pasture and with the other calves. Instead he popped out onto the side of the farm-to-market road. He was free and he knew it. He high tailed it right down the center stripe towards town.
Barry jumped into the truck and went after him, while Blake and his mom ran back to the house and got the four-wheeler. In a few minutes, they swapped vehicles and continued giving chase – with the mom in the truck, the dad on the four-wheeler and Blake perched on the front with rope in hand. With two vehicles after him, they got him off the paved road and into the ditch. By this time, it was a blistering 105 degrees, and the calf started losing momentum.
Blake threw a couple of loops at the calf but missed. Once, he had it on its head and jerked back too hard, and the loop jumped off. As he regathered his rope to try again, the calf changed strategy. Suddenly it wheeled around and charged the four-wheeler. Blake baled off the moving machine and landed right on the calf’s head. He twisted its nose skyward and slammed it to the ground. Barry threw the brakes on, grabbed the rope and joined the fray. He tied the squirming steer’s legs together in record time and then went back to the house with the missus to pick up the trailer. Blake knelt in the ditch to guard the winded calf as he wondered who was more exhausted.
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When his daddy got back, they heaved the calf up into the trailer leaving its legs tied. Turned out, that was an excellent idea because during its rest time, it had recovered its former energy and will to escape. As soon as they untied him, he made another run at them. As they latched the cross bar on the trailer gate, it was still charging them.
I’m sure Blake didn’t get a hero’s medal. His parents just expect that kind of quick thinking bravado from their son, and he expects it from himself. But if he hadn’t acted like he did, they might have had a much longer day and a much different outcome.