Baxter Black column: The right angle
It was one of those calving wrecks that just seemed to get worse and worse. Clay’s brother said he had never seen a pickup give birth.
The first pass through the calving pasture that morning they observed a mama cow in the midst of calving. The calf’s hind legs were showing, so they made a mental note to check her again later. An hour later Clay and his dad drove out for a second look. Brother rode in the back. The old farm truck rattled along and it didn’t take long to find her.
Clay parked the rig, grabbed a small bucket with OB chains and handles and approached the preoccupied cow. “Don’t lose my good chains,” Dad admonished. The cow spotted the good Samaritan, rose and trotted off. Clay returned to the car, cranked the engine and chugged after her. The pasture was only ten acres but she made four passes from one end to the other, eluding our intrepid bovine midwives.
“Try and roper’er!” hollered Dad. “Trap her in the corner! Yer on the wrong side! Watch that hole! He’s right handed, you nincompoop! Pull to the right! Watch that ditch! Yer going too fast! Yer going too slow! Throw it now! Shift to third! Watch the fence!”
They made a grand tour of northeast Oklahoma before the cow grew exhausted. She stopped to catch her breath. Clay drove the truck right up behind her, pulled a 30″ OB chain out of the bucket, then, leaning out the window he dropped it over the extended hoof. To ensure that he didn’t lose the chain, he deftly looped the other end around his left wrist. He hooked an OB handle over the chain for a better grip.
Clay began to pull back, Brother tossed a lasso around her head for insurance, and Dad was giving directions “Pull down! Get that down angle!”
The cow rejuvenated, tried to get away but the two brothers hung on. It didn’t go smoothly. On the first jerk she banged Clay’s forehead on the door jam! She stretched his nostrils from the bottom as she pulled his chest and shoulders through the pickup window! His head popped through, then his belt buckle caught.
Dad had a grip on Clay’s right boot and his own legs were braced against the gear shift and the roof! Clay’s boot gave way and slid off his foot, catching briefly on the steering wheel, then the side mirror. Clay slicked out of the truck in the horizontal position and immediately nose-dived into the soggy ground.
The last move changed the trajectory of the pull downward thus achieving the right angle so the calf’s hips unlocked and he plopped out still chained to Clay.
“Don’t lose them chains!” hollered Dad.
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I try not to make this column too educational but sometimes there is a need that can’t be ignored. When ranchers and cowmen work their cowherd, they are often under pressure to cull cows that…