Post: Live Stock Weekly Column

Straight Through the Barn With BJ Mayo

The Lilting Arpeggio

Over the last 50 years or so, I have been a witness to many variations of farmers and ranchers calling up their livestock at feeding time. It is a constant source of pleasure to hear a cattle siren call off in the distance and to see cattle charging down a fence line. In their excitement, some will stop long enough to buck, kick and butt heads. Dropping cake from a cake hauler is much safer than being on foot and hand dropping along a trail out of a fifty-pound sack.  Of course, calling in the chickens while throwing out scratch feed is not as dangerous as cattle feeding. However, prudence in footwear is required while feeding any type of livestock but especially with chickens. 

If you are worried about keeping your brand-new ranch truck clean and dent free, don’t take it to the bull trap. That specifically applies to cow cake day. In some cases, bulls are tremendously temperamental and unpredictable, or as one rancher puts it,

“Pay attention, those two bulls are feeling a little snuffy today.” 

When two big angus bulls decide they don’t like each other and start blowing, bellowing and throwing dirt with their front hooves, it might be time to ease that new truck out of there quickly. Once the shoving fight starts, there is nothing you can do to stop them. Borden and Nanna were just sitting in the bull trap, sipping a cup of coffee and admiring a particular feature that sold him on buying his new ranch truck. He had talked her into going to the bull pasture for just ten minutes so she could ride in his new and very clean rig. It had the new sprayed-in bed liner so he could drop a twenty-four, t-posts or maybe a come-a-long in the back without denting up the bed. That little add-on was close to $1000. It also had a fancy drop-down trailer hitch in the bed for his 24-ft gooseneck trailer and a big-screened back-up camera on the dashboard. He could put the ball hitch exactly on top of the ball with that camera, even at night with the LED lights in the back. Borden was the proudest of having a little cradle to set his I-phone in and it would charge automatically. Nanna agreed to come this morning only because she could ride in a clean rig before it got too nasty with dust and every available space was filled with some type of wire cutters, ear tags, LA-200, cattle pregnancy-testing gloves, needle nose pliers, goat drench and chalk markers. She did have work to do to get ready to feed the day-working cowboys coming in the next day to move and sort cattle. They were Rodeo Team boys from the college and could eat like horses. 

 “I will go if it will only be ten minutes” she said. “ I have a lot of food to prepare.”

“ You see that little slot right there, Nanna? That there is made just for my cell phone.  I don’t ever have to worry about it losing a charge. That made it worth buying. Man, I like that thing.”

Just about the time she smiled and said that was pretty nice for a truck that cost $75,000, the bulls hit the truck. They hit the truck so hard, the cup of coffee in Borden’s hand flew up to the ceiling. Nanna grabbed the seat belt strap and the edge of the console and held on. Suddenly, they hit her door panel and caved the door in. 

“ I think you better get your truck in reverse and get out of here before they flip it over” she said. 

“They can’t flip it over.  They don’t have any horns, Nanna!” 

About that time the big bull with the tuft of hair on his forehead bellowed loud, lowered his head and plowed into the side of the smaller bull. This time they hit the brand-new beefed-up grill guard that was installed specifically for deer when Nanna was going to town to buy cow cake. 

“You ought to feel a little safer going into town now with this new $850 heavy duty guard on the front. If you hit a deer, it won’t tear up the front grill or the lights. Works good on bump gates to. Just ease up to them and slide on through.”

“Borden, you need to get out of here before they set off the air bags. Hit the accelerator. We have to go!”

It was only after they ran backwards at 30 mph for a good-ways before Borden let off the accelerator. He stopped the truck and watched the two bulls up ahead, still fighting and completely unaware of their surroundings. Borden stepped out of the truck onto the fancy fold-out running boards before easing to the ground.   Nanna’s door was so badly caved in that it could not be opened, not to mention the fresh manure coating. 

“Well, looks like they beat up the grill guard a little. I don’t think I can get the hood opened without doing a little pry-bar work or maybe my come-along and a chain. Your door is in pretty rough shape Nanna. It is probably best that you don’t crawl over the seat to get out and look at it until we get home. Those bulls more or less sprayed it a little green. 

Upon re-entering the truck, Borden looked at the cell phone cradle only to find that the phone was no longer sitting in the slot. During the bull bumping and commotion, it had fallen out of its coveted slot and fell between the seat and console through the small crack that swallows’ phones, pens and any food items that are dropped.  

“ My hand is too big to fit through that little crack Nanna. Can you fish it out for me?”

Nanna just smiled as she stuck her small, petite hand through the crack and pulled the phone out with two fingers.

 “ Borden,  I really miss the days of your little cute “lilting arpeggio” mouth call you used to call up your goats and your cows. That one that sounded a little like a yodel while gargling coffee. The Spanish goats used to all turn at once and answer back. Even the cattle liked it.  I loved that little call. We could not afford a big fancy new truck back then with a cell phone holder and all of this stuff. I would drive your old Ford truck along slowly and toot the horn every now and then when you told me to.  You would be in the back of the truck bed, calling your sweet little call and pouring out bags of feed on the trail when the animals came up. Never once did the bulls hit that truck and we did not have cell phones back then.  I am just saying…….

Practical advice of the day

Cortisone -10 anti-itch cream and Colgate toothpaste look similar when one does not have their glasses on. However, they do not taste the same.

Until Next Time


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