Baxter Black: The Fall Run
September 17, 2015
I was ridin' pens for Horton in the fall of '91.
It was early October and the run had just begun.
He was buyin' calves like crazy 'cause the price was on the rise
And you couldn't see his pupils for the glitter in his eyes!
He bought big ol' soggy weaners…soaked up virus like a sponge!
He bought dime-off little leppies when the market made a lunge,
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He bought Terramycin junkies that had been around the world
And hungry auction refugees that stuffed their cheeks like squirrels!
He bought growers offa wheatgrass, bought high mountain pasture calves,
He bought cuttin' bulls and ropin' steers, the have-nots and the haves,
Bought heifers that were baggin' up raised on leafy spurge and sage
And some that weighed two-fifty that were legal drinkin' age!
They were comin' in in boatloads! Trucks were lined up gunwale deep!
'Til the nightman up and quit us 'cause they wouldn't let him sleep!
It was busy as an anthill at Receiving every day,
Calves were standin' in the alley, in the bunk and in the way.
All awaiting to be processed by the ragged cowboy crew
Who'd begun to look like prisoners doin' hard time at the zoo!
I was horseback checkin' new ones on the day before they broke
When the boss came drivin' up the bunk. He stopped and lit a smoke,
Took a Tums and shot of Maalox, blew his nose and spoke right out,
"Yessir, son," he said, "This here's what cattle feedin's all about!"
It was several days before I chanced to see him after that
'Cause all hell broke loose next mornin'! I was in up to my hat!
It was more than just an isolated outbreak in the yard.
Any good luck we had goin' was completely au revoired!
Even "wreck" would understate it. Catastrophic comes to mind.
Like a hurricane, a bad divorce and toothache intertwined!
A four-alarm tub chopper fire! A dose of gas gangrene!
Then topped off with a napalm strike and scabbie quarantine!
Chicken Little should'a been there! He'da dang sure pooped his nest!
Every cowboy rode and doctored hardly gettin' time to rest.
You can bet we earned our wages, kissed our one day off goodbye,
Workin' six o'clock 'til midnight, eatin' supper on the fly
'Til, at last, the plague just petered out…got gnawed down to the rind
And we've all got back to normal, 'cept the boss, who's now confined,
He's been checked into a clinic where they put 'im every year
To recover and rejuvenate and let his conscience clear.
Sort of, Jiffy Lube for managers who've lost their sense of place
Where they git their eyes reglittered and their memory erased!