Peterson: Movin’ Cows Down the County Road on a Summer Day
Looking through my old files I came across a poem written after a day in the saddle moving a small bunch of cows down a gravel country road. I, of course, was the “Instant Hired Hand” — a euphemism for “the wife,” But it was summer. The weather was fine; it was a good day for doing a usual ranch chore in the company of cows, cowhorse and husband.
Movin’ Cows Down the County Road on a Summer Day
I was pushing cows down the county road on an early summer day,
I was herding the bunch on my buckskin mare, a cowhorse some would say.
The mare was feelin’ downright frisky, she was full of zip and zing,
She pranced behind them cows (I’d only rode her once since spring).
My spouse was in his beat-up pickup leading this parade,
To warn oncoming drivers, he had a flag on a stick that he waved.
The borrow pits were full of grass, the cows kept pausing to munch,
I reined my buckskin back and forth to keep those bovines bunched.
The trouble started with telephone cable that workers had left behind,
The wire was embedded in the tall spring grass, a mile or so of line.
Some of it curled around in loops, and some of it strung out straight.
The cows didn’t care, they tromped those strands like pretzeled figure eight’s.
Then a brockle-faced mama got a foot entangled and tried to yank it free,
Which spooked my mare, she thought of snakes and tried to get rid of me.
And up ahead, my husband drove on till he met another pickup,
The vehicles paused side by side and conversation struck up.
The cow in the wire was going nuts and me and my mare were too,
The rest of the herd went moseying on, leaving me with a lot to do.
I screamed real loud to attract the attention of my beloved spouse.
But he was too busy jawin’ with the other pickup driver — the louse!
I swung out of the saddle and holding one rein, I cautiously approached the cow,
She was hobbled in cable as thick as my thumb. “Hey, bring pliers!” I howled.
But my mate didn’t hear, he and his pal now leaned against their trucks,
Not once did they glance toward me; me and that cow were plumb out of luck.
The poor old thing went down to her knees, she bellered and thrashed around,
My buckskin mare nearly yanked off my arm backing away from that ground.
Again, I yelled till I hurt myself to attract my partner’s attention,
I uttered some phrases using words unflattering, words that I won’t mention.
And then in midscreech, I heard a voice, it wasn’t the cow’s nor mine,
Another pickup had arrived on the scene; the driver was being kind.
“You need some help?” he asked real nice, and I said, “Hold my horse,
I’ve got to get that cow undone, and I’ll have to use some force.”
He said, “Tie your mare to my bumper while I fetch some wire cutters.”
I did, he did, and both of us approached the terrified cow; she shuddered.
She wallered around and tried to get up till I sat myself down on her head,
And the rescuer man with the fine cutting tool sliced those cable threads.
I was free to get off that bovine’s head, and she assisted me.
She heaved and hoisted and dumped me off in a pile of glory be.
I fell face first and buried my cheek in something I’d rather avoid,
The cow staggered up and went lumbering off while my temper rose to a boil.
For ahead on the road stood my life’s mate and he still hadn’t noticed a thing.
I thanked the Samaritan, gathered my horse and galloped away full steam.
I wiped my cheek with the sleeve of my shirt and vowed revenge as I rode,
I pushed those cows to where hubby was parked there on the county road.
That man looked up and gave me a smile and said (and I tell this true),
“So, there you are. I’ve been waitin’ here for a quite spell. What’s kept you?”
To be a ranching team, sometimes you take, sometimes you give,
On that summer day, I saved my hubby’s life. I let him live. ❖