Every cowman’s nightmare

Baxter Black

It was every cowman’s nightmare.

Owen’s ranch in Globe was a long way from the Prescott sale barn. It also involved passing through the “Gates of Hell,” as he referred to the booming, seething expanse of asphalt and dragon’s breath other call Phoenix. Girding his loins, he loaded one old bull and ten cull cows in his 20-foot gooseneck trailer and came down the mountain. Even at five p.m., on that hot summer evening it was well above 100 degrees.

Of course, he planned on reaching Phoenix so he could be a part of the after-work traffic. Even with five lanes on his side of the freeway, it was like suddenly finding yourself in a windstorm wearing a sail. Owen gripped the steering wheel as he squinted into the blinding sun. Cars roared around him, big trucks rocked his long bed 4 X 4 as they whizzed by. The noise was overwhelming.

WHAM! THUMP! The steering wheel jerked in his hand! Cars honked and swerved away to his left! His good dog was pounding on the back window and pointing! His first thought was that someone had hit him from behind. Then he looked in his side view mirrors. Black smoke, bull manure, pieces of rubber and a rooster tail of sparks flew out from under the right side of his trailer! The whole rig drug to a stop like someone had thrown an anchor overboard. The dog was covering his eyes.

Gouging his way to the shoulder, Owen stopped the crippled conveyance. “A blow out,” he was thinking, glad he’d checked the spare before leaving the ranch. Imagine his disappointment when he noticed there were two. Blowouts, I mean, on the same side. And not enough room to get a jack under and no hump to pull up on.

Dusk fell on the cowboy. The temperature on his side of the freeway dropped to 98 degrees, as he sat pondering his dilemma. Should he unhook? Leave the loaded trailer? Kick the dog? Set the cattle free? Quit ranching? Blame his wife?
An hour into the pondering, when he was actually considering such solutions as joining the National Guard or learning the art of western pottery, help arrived. Owen and the good Samaritan did some additional pondering. The good Samaritan drove back to his house and returned with a large piece of concrete. They placed it in front of the bare right front rim and managed to pull the fully loaded trailer up on top of it. It raised it high enough to allow one spare to be affixed.

The Good Samaritan would accept no money. Owen gave him a Cowbelle’s placemat that included his ranch brand, and his effusive thanks. It was midnight when he finally pulled back on the road. The temperature had dropped to 92 degrees.