Cover of darkness not safe from cows

By Baxter Black: On the Edgoe of Common Sense

Late-night calls are usually not good news. Especially if it is the police calling to tell you a car has hit a cow on the highway.

Jack got the call at 11:15 p.m. on a Friday night. The local police all have his number because he knows the country, all the ranches and all the brands and … he’s the one they always call.

“The driver’s shaken up but nobody’s injured, the cow’s upside down in the barrow ditch on Post Road a mile east of Highway 90, and we can’t get her out.”

It was down the road from Jack’s house. He got dressed, pulled on his boots and made sure he had a lass rope in the pickup. As soon as he turned onto Post Road he could see the flashing lights in the distance.

He arrived quickly and noted that the city police, the highway patrol and the sheriff’s department were all in attendance. Headlights lit up the area like a raid on a bootleg tavern.

The vehicle involved was skewed sideways in the center of the gravel road. It was a small, quarter-ton oriental vehicle with an odd sounding name like Tonka or Hilo or Crustacean. Three teenagers, a boy and two girls, were huddled in the cab. The cow was trying to right herself but the ditch held her like a hot dog bun. She couldn’t get onto her side enough to get her feet on the ground.

Jack got a rope around her front leg and head to see if they could manually get her rocking and eventually pull her out. The three lawmen furnished the muscle but no amount of tugging could dislodge her. It did, however, make her madder.

Rethinking his plan, Jack suggested they tie the rope to the little round pipe bumper on the back of the Crustacean. The driver squared the rig around to get good leverage. On the first try the little pickup spun out on the gravel road.

Cowboy logic followed and soon the two girls were in the back of the pickup to add weight.

Jack stood by the cow, the kids were ready, and the lawmen were standing in front of the city police car. It would have been an interesting scene from the bird’s eye view; a small circle of bright light in a black night on a deserted road with no habitations within two miles.

“You boys better get behind your car,” Jack advised, “When this ol’ darlin’ gets loose she’s liable to come right for ya!”

The three stood, arms folded across their chest, wearing Kevlon vests, pistols, handcuffs, Mace, ammo, flashlights, truncheons, Swiss Army knives, walkie-talkies and steel-toed shoes. They looked like the front line of the Oakland Raiders.

They harrumphed.

“Give her gas, kid!” yelled Jack.

The cow popped out, righted herself, saw the triumvirate of those who protect and serve, and charged.

If you’ve ever seen a bucking bull clean the gawkers off the fence at a rodeo, you can imagine the scene. In the blink of an eye she wheeled to the pickup and jumped. The girls sailed over the side. The cow got her front paws up in and slid back, jamming her front legs down between the bed and round bumper.

Miraculously, she lifted out her feet and turned back into the island of light. The law had scattered, the teens were hidden and Jack, the observer, immediately became the target.

He made toward the pitch-black edge of the stage. In a matter of seconds she ran him down, left him in a clump of cat claw, and left the country.

At the bottom of the police report, filed later that predawn morning, was the comment, “It is apparent, according to witnesses, that cows can see in the dark.”