Some cows you can walk right up to. Others are like department-store employees: You see one at the end of the aisle and by the time you get there, they’re gone!
This particular cow was pretty skittish, so Keeler knew something was wrong when she wouldn’t get out of the way of his pickup. He decided a shot of long-acting antibiotic would perk her up.
He dug his rope out from behind the seat and tied it around her neck. He scanned the grassy meadow for something to snub her up to. Coiled like a snake in the bed of his pickup was a truck tire still on the eight-hole rim. Keeler backed up to the cow, lifted the 60-pound wheel and ran the tail of his rope through the axle hole and tied it.
“That should work long enough for me to give her a shot,” he thought, not remembering the hundreds of times he had misjudged a cow. When he hit her with the needle, the cow jumped. The movement drug the iron rim against the rusty bed and made a screech! It worked as good as a barking dog! The cow sprang to life and took off, dragging the tire behind her. It bounced crazily, resulting in a circuitous trajectory that led her back to the pickup. She crashed into the fender, shot-putting the wheel over her head and right through the windshield.
Two weeks later, Keeler was back on duty with a new windshield. It wasn’t so much the cost of it all; insurance covered it, it was the inconvenience. Driving to town, leaving the truck, someone to take him home, then another hitchhike back to town.
Today’s job was to take an orphaned calf to the sale. He got the 2-month-old crossbred bull roped in the corral. But having learned his lesson two weeks earlier, he tied the rope to the bumper of his pickup, instead of the tire, which still lay there hissing.
Keeler hadn’t thought his plan through. After capturing the fighting flighty red brockle calf, he had a vague idea of maybe hog-tying it in the back of his pickup. However, he forgot a piggin’ string.
He ran to the shed for some proper twine. In his haste to return he hit a stack of empty linseed oil cans. It made a racket like someone beating on a tin roof with a log chain. The surprised calf jumped into the bed of the pickup, over the cab, and landed on the hood — which was as far as the rope would let him go. There he stomped the hood till it looked like a lumpy mattress, managed to mangle a side-view mirror, smash the bug guard, tear off both wipers and break through the brand new windshield — again.
Insurance covered it for a second time, but his Arkansas Farm Bureau deductible has gone up.
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: