Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 8-13-12
The shortest distance between two points isn’t always the best path; it’s certainly not always the most fun. My buddy Randy found that out when he and his partner Dean went to round up three stray cows. A rancher had called them one day to report that some of their cows were on his place and could they please come move them. Dean saddled a 2-year-old colt that had only been ridden a few times.
When they arrived, they sicked the dogs on the cows and the new colt started bucking. Dean brought him under control and soon they had two of the three cows roped and loaded in the trailer. But the third one took off running down towards the railroad tracks. As the cow galloped away, Dean got to thinking that it could be interesting to rope a cow on the tracks — a first for him.
He was making a loop and was about to toss it when he heard Randy yelling at him from behind. “Get off the dang tracks! A train is coming!” Dean herded her away from the tracks and down a little ravine right as the train thundered by. He watched in dismay as she hurdled a rickety fence and kept going. He hopped down and cut some of the barbed wire and continued to give chase. It would have been fairly easy to rope her there in the wide open area on the other side of the tracks, but it wouldn’t have been much fun. So crazy-like, he rode on towards the open door of a large fertilizer plant. “You sorry, son-of-a-gun! … Don’t you dare!” hollered Randy as he spurred his horse onward, trying to avoid a catastrophe.
But his warnings were in vain. Dean herded the runaway right into the door of the warehouse onto the slippery concrete floor. A shocked worker on a rubber tire loader stopped in the middle of his task to stare at the surreal sight. All the workers scattered as the horse and cow scrambled around to get enough traction to keep moving forward.
The cow spied an opening — it was to the large dome that housed thousands of pounds of dry fertilizer pellets. The circular metal container was about 50 feet tall and 100 feet across. She darted in there with Dean in hot pursuit. By this time, Randy had caught up — just in time for the panicked cow to plow right into his horse and run back out of the only opening to the huge room. The wild cow then ran toward the door to the outside of the plant at full tilt. Dean lay against his horse’s neck so he could pass through there as well, but Randy couldn’t go through on his tall horse.
The cow ran around the building towards the office and the scales where two men were standing, a customer and the manager. Dean yelled at them to get back into the office where they’d be safe. The cow then wheeled around and knocked Randy off his horse and upset a few empty fertilizer barrels. Dean finally got a rope on her head and tied it off to his saddle horn. He called his foreman on the phone and asked him to bring a trailer over to the plant and help him load a cow. “Where is she?” the man asked. “We’re inside the building.” That took a while to sink in.
Meanwhile the two men outside the office were still standing and watching the whole spectacle. The plant manager, who was rather portly, produced his Jack Russell terrier. Dean advised him that that wasn’t a good idea. But the man insisted, saying he wanted to give his dog a chance to work. Dean allowed a little slack in the line and the dog charged the panting cow and bit her right in the nose. The cow lurched forward and somehow the rope slipped right between the manager’s legs and zipped right up into his crotch.
Finally, he got some relief when the rope was pulled back down. “Don’t ever let another cow run into my business again,” the man rasped in a whisper. “I’ll see what I can do,” Dean said with a wink. ❖
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So two weeks ago the president told us that the greatest threat to the United States is systemic racism. Last week he told the Europeans that the greatest threat to the U.S. is climate change.