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ON THE EDGE OF COMMON SENSE

Ted’s excellent adventure on getting a steer to market

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Ted and his dad needed some cows to stock their little ranch in Oklahoma, and they needed’em right away. A local trader solved their problem and injected a couple loads into them. By fall, Ted began to notice one calf that stood taller than the rest. Must’uve had some Chianina blood coursing through his veins. They called him Alf.

They got the big calf castrated and branded and watched him grow like a weed. After several months, Ted gathered a bunch to ship. But Alf ducked back. Ted shook out a loop and gave chase.

“Let ’im go!” said Dad, “We'll get him next time!”

Early spring, they went to feedin’ cake to the herd. Alf was now a yearlin’. Ted kept thinkin’ he'd get a rope on him but Alf was too smart. He’d hang back’til the truck pulled forward, then he’d hit the cake. “Yer better off just lettin’ him go,” said Dad. “We'll get him eventually.”

Over the next two years, Ted became a master of the bait, trap, ambush, sneak attack methods of capturing a wild beast. He actually tricked Alf into a set of corrals only to see him clear the 4 1/2 foot board fence like a hunter-jumper.

His last fall, Alf was big as an army ambulance.

He let himself get gathered with the cows knowing he could escape at will but Bwana Ted had reinforced his alleys making them too high for Alf to jump out of. Ted sorted off all the cows but one leaving her in the alley with Alf. You could almost hear the chalk squawkin’ on the blackboard inside Ted’s brain. He backed a closed top stock trailer into one end of the alley and opened the tailgate. He figgered he would take both to the sale if both accidentally loaded. Sure nuf, one loaded. The cow of course!

Alf was circlin’ like a hammerhead shark in the shallow end of the pool. Rust and metal filings flew out Ted’s ears as he plotted his next move. With Dad’s help as a diversion (bait, some would say), Ted snuck into the back end of the alley driving the tractor with the loader bucket 6 feet in the air. Suspended from the bucket with chains was an 8-foot steel panel. It just cleared the sides of the alley. Ted drove slowly down the alley until Alf was 6 feet from the open trailer tailgate. Alf was bouncing off the boards and metal. Splinters flew, welds broke, bolts came loose, cannons boomed, flags fluttered, palm trees bent and waves crashed as Alf turned the earth into a whale wallow!

Ted invoked the cowboy spirit and leaped up into the loader bucket. His eyes blazed with fury, his body tensed, his mind temporarily left the scene of the impending wreck. He was almost eyeball to eyeball with the raging behemoth. Alf paused in surprise. Ted rose to his full height and screamed at the top of his lungs!

Alf tucked his tail and loaded like a milk pen calf.

When he crossed the scale at the sale the next day, he weighed 1,750. Brought nearly a thousand dollars. Dad’s still trying to talk Ted into getting’ some more like him.

     Baxter Black is a cowboy poet, former large-animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses. Learn more at www.baxterblack.com.                 

Baxter Black