Cow inspires idea of space career

By Baxter Black: QCS columnist

Pudge and Maughn were a couple of top hands gatherin’ cows on the Diamond Mountain allotment in northeast Utah back in the 1960s. Although they were true cowboys, they weren’t above accessing modern technology.

One late October as they were pushin’ a bunch toward the corral, one of the cows fell back with a lameness. The boys left her to retrieve later and took the other cows on in.

Parked at the corrals was Pudge’s 1950 model 2 1/2-ton heavy-duty bobtail stock truck. That morning they had driven Maughn’s pickup and horse trailer to the backside of the allotment, unloaded the horses to start the gather and left the rig parked.

After penning the herd the boys loaded in the bobtail and went back after the pickup and trailer. Along the way, they spotted the lame cow. She seemed unmoving, so the decision was made to tie her down and load her in the horse trailer when they returned.

They approached her on foot but she hobbled just far enough to stay out of reach of Maughn’s trusty lariat. It was then that our technological pioneers deduced by scientific cowboy reasoning that they could rope her from the truck!

Maughn, with his 36-foot hard twist in hand, climbed on the big round left fender and straddled the turn signal light. It lent a good hold since it stuck up 6 or 7 inches in the shape of a lollipop.

Off they went across the flats like modern car-crash dummies.

Imagine Pudge behind the wheel like James Lovell in Apollo 13, trying to finesse the growling army tank of a vehicle through the sagebrush and rocks and keep pace with the cagey cow.

She’d change speeds and swerve. Pudge tried to stay with her as Maughn bounced up and down showin’ daylight with every bank and yaw. The rope got tangled around his flailing arms, legs and waist. But on one quick surge a loop shot out and the ol’ girl stuck her head in it!

The cow took off just as Pudge applied the brakes. Maughn fired off the fender like a football at the kickoff! He sailed the length of a school bus and crashed to the bottom of a 4-foot growth of oak brush. The rope came tight. He stopped that cow like she’d hit a brick wall!

There was some talk about Maughn going to astronaut school. No one took it seriously. But for years after, he was able to expound with great authority the sensation of weightlessness and mass vs. velocity. E=Maughn C squared.