"It ain't dying I'm talking about, Woodrow it's living!" There are days I pinch myself thinking I'm going to wake up from this infernal episode of Lonesome Dove any minute! There is no one that lives this life that doesn't completely understand that famous line. They will risk everything, just to make sure the stock is cared for and tended to first. It's an unbreakable code they will live and die by, and by George if you've ever spent much time around them, they live…..
The great Blizzard of 2021. As I write this we are still in the aftermath. Seven days below freezing, cattle turned out ….well basically everywhere there was a spare blade of grass and some type of water. We can go from drought to full blown arctic blizzard in one afternoon in Texas!
Everyone I know was on double duty trying to keep cattle fed and watered. Breaking ice, feeding, haying, fixing water leaks from busted pipes, the list goes on and on. Then…..on top of all this calving starts, in this icy snowy mess! Similar stories like the one I'm about to tell you went on all over the United States.
Past their "prime" 55 and 57 years of age respectively, Woodrow and his friend "Gus", are and have been in complete denial that they are not 21 anymore for a while now. Since we were all around 18 years old these two have been doing things that have at times made me so mad I could spit!!
No amount of my insisting, that bones and especially bones at ages 55 and 57 can and will break, was going to do any good. If there is one thing a cowboy can't resist, it's a chance to be 10 feet tall and bulletproof! And today was that day! Reiterating my opinion that this was not a good idea, which they completely dismissed as they took a big swig of "liquid courage!" The quest began.
"They ain't as good as they once we're, but they're as good once, as they ever were!"
Woodrow and I had a heifer calving on some pasture in the middle of nowhere with no pens. The blizzard was in full gust. The heifer had two feet hanging out and it had been over two hours. So Woodrow calls Gus, and like two teenagers these two devise a plan to rope said heifer, tie the rope to the ranch hand bumper and pull the calf. The temperature had bottomed to a miserable 5 degrees, however these two were almost giddy about the whole thing. They gave me my orders, which I knew, being a veteran of similar predicaments before, that I'd probably just have to wing it. I'm going to seriously consider counseling about my addiction to these rogue personality types!
So this whole thing started with Woodrow on the back of the flatbed, with Gus driving. Gus explained to Woodrow " you just crawl on the back there and get your rope ready. I'll get you close enough to catch her!" I'm looking at this middle aged Rodeo Parade float, thinking you really can't make this stuff up!
I'm not sure how or what happened, but the next thing I knew Woodrow was on the ground. Running and swinging that rope, like a I don't know what? He finally caught a back leg and soon resembled a minnow on the end of a fishing line just flying around hanging on to that rope for dear life! Gus, realizing Woodrow was in way over his head and out matched by nearly 900 pounds, jumped out of the pick up, reached down just in time to catch the very end of the rope.
At this point I'm in the other pick up chanting, "Hail Mary Full of Grace! Now I got two minnows flailing around on the end of a rope. I'm thinking, they are old minnows too! "I tried to tell y'all!" I muttered under my breath!
So that's it, I'm up, I slammed the pick up into drive removed my foot from the brake, tromped on the gas, shut my eyes, and yelled oh " Holy you know what!" My eyes came open as I heard "WHOA!"
Gus, by the grace of God somehow had a wrap around that ranch hand bumper. He then yelled," Nikolyn get over here and hold this dally!" I did as I was told! Thanking God I didn't run over them, and muttering you stupid ol farts, I hate y'all! Something I've said before back in the day! The calf was delivered. They crammed it in the pick up, on top of me, and poked their chests out, cause by George they still had one in them! The baby calf is alive and well. Woodrow and Gus are completely exhausted, but "the legend lives on!"
You know I'd still be mad at these two, but just like all cowboys, they do something really good, where you can't stay mad at them. After they crammed me and that calf into the pick up, we dashed off to help another friend. Who's water was frozen. She had no water for her cows. They drove immediately, from the calving pasture to help her. Cold, tired, and worn out. They went anyway. They always do something like that way over the top where you can't hate them….Dang it!!!
I've watched this community like so many Ranching communities, pull together like none other, during this blizzard. It has been nothing short of amazing, the way we all pull together in times of need. I'm so proud to be able to say "we".