Cowboys can be quite creative when hard times cut into the daily operating expenses. Take Roy’s cousin BB. One of BB’s heifers had come off his badlands and crossed onto Roy’s pasture.
On that fateful day, BB had driven his pickup and gooseneck trailer to Roy’s place to pick him up, Roy wasn’t quite ready. His cinch had worn down to two flimsy cords.
"Did you happen to bring an extra cinch?" he asked.
"No," said BB, "But I can make one out of a gunny sack."
He dumped the tire chains out of a greasy tow sack. Roy thought he had been around, but this ingenious thinking was a new wrinkle to him. Roy watched his cousin slip-knot one end through the offside cinch ring, fold the other end over the tongue and through the ring on the left side ring, and then stitch it.
"This baling wire makes good thread," he explained.
Half an hour later they were pushing the heifer back toward BB’s piece of the Pine Ridge Rez.
"Keep her to the badland side," instructed Roy. "Don’t let her get over on the prairie dog side or we’ll lose her!"
Of course, the heifer took off in the direction of the prairie dog town!
"Rope her!" yelled Roy.
BB missed, but Roy was right behind and caught her. She was tied hard and fast!
"See if you can catch the heels," said Roy.
BB missed several times, but in his defense the heifer was windmilling like a carnival ride!
"Hold up," yelled Roy. "Swap horses with me and hold the head. I’ll take your rope and heel her. We’ll tie her down and go get the trailer."
A great plan.
BB eased over and they traded horses. Just about the time Roy started building a loop, the heifer, tired of the harassment, started up BB’s rope!
"Pick up yer slack!" yelled Roy, "Pick up yer slack!"
Too late! The heifer rammed into BB, still on Roy’s horse, more importantly still in Roy’s saddle, bounced off and headed straight away from the scene of the crime!
The gunny sack cinch had slackened considerably. BB reflected later they do stretch for a couple days. When the heifer hit the end of the line, the saddle slicked off right over the horse’s head with BB still in the stirrups! He hit the ground, made a couple bounces, grabbed the horn, lost his stirrups and started spinning like a broken lure in a bass pond as he sailed along behind the galloping heifer! He made one gallant effort to pull himself back in the saddle but stuck his boot toe in a prairie dog hole and was peeled off like a booster rocket from Apollo 13!
Back at the ranch later that evening, BB decided he would discard his patent application for the gunny sack cinch repair kit.
"Probably wise," said Roy, "but it did make a handy sling for your dislocated shoulder."
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.