Life tends to scar each one of us in some form or fashion as we live and breathe on life’s journey. Every time I look at my hands or my head and face in the mirror, I not only see the effects of age, I see the scars from long ago. Mostly in my youth, when thoughtful decisions before actions were shall we say, fleeting.
In the farming and ranching community, some of these scars are closely associated with what we call “train wrecks”. That is to say, the intersection of humans and practically anything that lives on the farm or ranch with four legs or in some cases, four wheels.
My oldest sister’s husband is one of the toughest ranchers I know. His family has been ranching the same place for over 100 years. Any group that has been in business that long has endured many seasons of hardship in many forms. There are seasons of drought, heavy rains, pests, political upheaval and a menagerie of quandaries that affect the ability to raise beef and sell at a profit.
Any type of personal injury can affect one’s ability to keep a farm or ranch moving when a “train wreck” occurs.
Bo has spent countless hours on horseback covering rough country. He was alone on horseback checking on his broodmares in a trap located a fair distance from the house. The stud horse in the same trap did not appreciate another horse and rider coming into the trap. Consequently, he charged Bo and his gelding. When the dust settled, the stud horse bit a large chunk of muscle and tendon out one of Bo’s legs. The wound had the appearance of a shark bite. He was air lifted to Lubbock for surgery. After his recovery, right back in the saddle.
On another occasion, Bo was pulling a cake wagon on his weekly rounds. As he drove off of the cap rock into a canyon, his truck and trailer jackknifed on the ice. When he got out to look thinks over, he fell on the ice and slid on his back until a rock stopped him. The sheer force of the impact completely shattered his ankle. Slowly, he crawled up towards his truck and a cell phone. Several hours passed in the frigid conditions before he got to the truck and his phone to call for help. He was airlifted back to Lubbock where it was touch and go on the possible need to amputate the injured foot. He was able to keep his foot. It is held together with a set of screws and plates.
Now, at the ripe age of 75, he still saddles up. He does use a footstool to mount up and has now purchased a horse that stands perfectly motionless while he boards.
Another rancher I know well got caught between two horses in a kicking fight at feeding time. One kicked him in his right tibia bone and broke it completely in two. He crashed to the ground with a section of bone poking through the skin on his leg. He began to crawl towards the ranch truck. After several grueling hours and a large red ant bed, he reached the door of his truck. He was finally able to pull himself up and into the vehicle. Unable to use his right leg to drive, he used a cattle prod to operate the gas pedal. Finally arriving at the ranch house, he pulled his phone off the console and called his wife, just outside of the house.
“Beth, I guess we might ought to head to the hospital.”
“What has happened, Clay? she said.
“Oh, had a little run in with a horse’s hoof.”
I called him as he recovered in the hospital.
“Clay, do you know which horse did this to you?”
He let out a good laugh.
“ No BJ, I don’t. But I am sure going to find out and we are going to have a visit. He did not mean to kick me. He was aiming at the other horse. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The next thing you know, Clay is back to ranching and running his farm equipment.
Then, there was my friend Brewer that was day working cattle in rough country about 25 miles north of Snyder, Texas. Let’s just say that it is not a good day when a horse you are on is heading down a steep mountain trail and meets a horned bull coming up the same trail. Brewer was able to get off the horse before it began to roll downwards after being steam rolled by the bull. When he relayed the story to me, I cringed at the thought.
“ You came out of that without an injury?”
“ Well, I would not say that. I would just say I’ve had worse scratches on my eye-ball that what that bull did to me and my horse.”
The four wheeled beasts we ride can be just as dangerous as the four-legged ones. As a close friend of mine once said;
“Perhaps it is wise for one to better judge the distance between two trees “before” attempting to ride a four-wheeler between them.
Another close friend cut his finger off when a tractor slipped off of an improperly set jack while trying to remove a front tire by himself. He left the cut-off finger inside the leather glove where it could be easily retrieved and sewn back on by the surgeon.
Practical advice for the day
Never attempt to stick a cat in a boot to drain an abscess on its back leg.
Until Next Time