September 2016
On the Edge of Common Sense

Movin’ Cows

"Truly a beautiful day to be movin’ cows to summer pasture," Steve’s boss observed.

Satisfaction wafted off him in gently rising curls. Steve wiped a streak of green off his pant leg with a flat stick.

They’d loaded the cows in a hired semi and the calves into a converted hay wagon. This wagon had rubber tires, a long tongue and 12-foot hand-crafted (homemade) side boards. There was enough wire at the corners to run transatlantic cable from New York to the Canary Islands!

"I’ll take the calves and lead the way. You ride with the driver," the boss instructed.

The road picked up incline as the procession wound its way into the hills above Ellensburg. The trailer tracked as well as a camel draggin’ a unicycle through a fresh-plowed field against the rows! The driver grumbled, but Steve kept an eye on the swaying trailer ahead. He noticed the right rear tire go from low to flat.

The semi pulled alongside the boss’s pickup to alert him.

"Just keep goin’," the boss shouted, "We’re almost there!"

Smoke began to roll out of the tortured tire. Soon sparks were flyin’! Steve was the first to spot flames!

They pulled over as the pickup and trailer ground to a halt. The rear of the trailer was burning like an old apple crate! They cut through the wire and pried the backboards off!

The calves were smashin’ themselves to the front! Steve fought his way through the smoke and fire, and began pushing and throwing the 200-pound calves out onto the highway!

"They’ll find ‘em," Steve thought, "That’s what cowboys are for!"

Once the calves were all safe and scattered from Pasco to Seattle, they unhooked the pickup and watched the trailer burn.

"Might as well go unload the cows," the boss instructed.

Steve directed the driver inside the pasture beside an old, once-portable unloading ramp. Steve got out as the driver jack-knifed into position. He managed to drag the chute square to the semi’s end gate.

"Just a foot to go," he thought as he looked toward the mirror on the side of the cab.

At the moment he raised his arm to signal the driver, one of the bovine passengers cocked her tail. In full view of the driver, she cascaded a colon load of secondhand grass and water over Steve’s blackened, sooty frame!

"Yup, a good day," he thought as he unloaded the cows by himself, because the driver was still incapacitated, rolling on the ground in paroxysms of uncontrolled laughter!


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,