Baxter Black: A Close Call |

Baxter Black: A Close Call

Talk about takin’ a beating.

I stood on the porch at Dale’s horse farm and soaked up the view. It was deep springtime in west Tennessee. The grass was so green it hurt your eyes. The dogwoods were in bloom and two sleek and shiny horses grazed in the picture. It looked like a cover off the Quarter Horse Journal.

“Nice fence,” I said, commenting on the pole fence circling his pasture.

“Thanks,” said Dale, “But we had a heckuva scare buildin’ it. See that post…” I noted a stout post at the end of the driveway. The harrowing tale unfolded.

Dale had decided to build this fence and finally got around to it in December. He enlisted the aid of two friends, Chuck and Phil. They all dressed warmly since it was twenty degrees the day they started. At the particular post in question, the boys were havin’ trouble diggin’ the hole. It was close to the paved road and the ground was hard.

Dale backed his tractor up to the future hole and poised the posthole auger over the designated spot like an ovipositing wasp. The auger spun on the surface of the frozen ground. Chuck, who’s big as a skinned mule, pulled down on the gearbox. No luck, Chuck. So Phil stepped between the auger and the tractor and leaned his weight on the horizontal arm supporting the auger.

Now, Phil had come prepared to work in the cold. He had on his hat with Elmer Fudd earflaps, mudboots, socks, undies, long johns, jeans, undershirt, wool shirt and Carharts. Carharts, for you tropical cowboys, are insulated coveralls made out of canvas and tough as a nylon tutu.

Phil gave Dale the go-ahead. Dale engaged the PTO. The auger clanked and started to turn. Suddenly Phil seemed to explode in front of Dale’s eyes! Dale engaged the clutch immediately and everything stopped.

Phil stood before them naked.

I said naked. Not quite. He had on his hat and his boots and his belt, still through the beltloops. The jeans had been ripped off his body from the pockets down, leaving only a small piece containing the fly. It flapped like Geronimo’s loincloth.

As explanation, Phil’s pantleg had brushed up against the extended arm of the PTO. In a split second, as fast as Superman could skin a grapefruit, the PTO had torn all the clothes off Phil’s body. In less than three minutes his body turned blue. Nothing was broken but he was as bruised as the top avocado at the supermarket. Chuck commented later that he looked like he’s been run through a hay conditioner.

I figger he was the blazing example of that expression, “…he looked like he’d been drug through a knothole.”