Through the Fence 11-9-09
Country boys tend to turn into men a little early. Instead of spending their afternoons loafing at the mall or playing games at an arcade, they are feeding and tending to livestock, cutting and bailing hay and mending fences. And that is after a full day of school and ball practice.
Trying to round up a stray cow and calf got the best of one country boy, Colt, a teenage boy at my school. He was building a fence to contain the cows behind his family’s livestock sale barn. Before he and his helpers could stop them, an agile mother cow and her calf slipped passed them and out into the open coastal field.
They took two vehicles to find the strays, Kobi, one of his buddies, driving his truck and Colt driving an ultra-light truck that was more like a golf cart. They drove around about 20 minutes, wondering how they could’ve lost the cow and calf in such a wide open space. They drove through a gap in the fence and down a hill toward a tank. There they found the mama cow and her baby wading in the cool water. They tried to ease up to her gently, but when she saw them, she wheeled around and charged the tiny truck that Colt was driving. She lowered her massive head and rammed the truck broadside and turned it over. She kept thrashing underneath it while the driver curled up into a fetal position wondering what had just happened. Kobi managed to push Colt’s truck back upright. Dazed but unhurt, Colt started the truck again and slammed the accelerator into the floor, only to see his prey gallop into a field of heavy brush.
They decided to enact Plan B. They went back to the livestock barn where one of their buddies had anticipated their need and had saddled their horses. When Kobi and Colt encountered the rogue cow again, she saw them and ran. They spurred their horses through the brush, trying to keep an eye on them and lead them into an area big enough to throw a rope. Still running full tilt, the cow and calf skipped over another fence and into the next pasture, full of belly deep Johnson grass.
When they finally had the chance, Kobi threw a loop towards the cow and missed. Colt’s loop was nearly perfect, and as he leaned forward, anticipating the capture, the calf came out of nowhere. When it did, it ran right in front of Colt’s horse who had no time to change direction. He crashed to the ground sending Colt sprawling in the tall grass. When he had a moment to regroup, he got to his feet and stood next to his trembling horse. However, when he tried to take a step, he collapsed. He looked down and his left leg was draped across his body at a weird angle.
He took off his big black cowboy hat and started waving it wildly trying to catch Kobi’s attention so that he and the cow wouldn’t run over him in the high grass. He heard feet stomping the hard earth coming dangerously close to where he lay unable to move. He sat up in time to see the cow and Kobi headed straight for him. He yelled for help, and Kobi dropped the rope and rode up to check on his buddy. When he saw the shape Colt was in, his face blanched and he mumbled, “Don’t go away, I’m going to get help.” Colt only wished he could go somewhere!
When he woke up several hours later, in the hospital, he was surrounded by his family and friends and sported a 10-inch titanium rod in his left femur. A year has passed since that cowboy wreck, and young Colt’s leg will never be the same. The doctors said that he will soon develop arthritis in his hip and leg. Always cheerful and optimistic, he says that he has no regrets. He has learned at the tender age of 17 to appreciate the small pleasures and victories in life. He considers this perspective a blessing. Only a country kid could reach that kind of maturity at that age. Some adults never get there.
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I have been rather preoccupied lately and haven’t been writing my editor’s note. So, for those who have called and emailed to make sure I’m still on this Earth, I’m still here.