This true story from a few decades ago falls into my Mental Home Video category. If you picture it happening in your mind, I’ll be even better than a current-day YouTube video.
This story comes from an eye-witness friend of mine, ol’ B. A. Ryder, who wuz working in those days as a cowboy for a prominent Flint Hills rancher, ol’ Baron O. deHeard, whose family wuz one of the early pioneers in the Hills.
Now Baron wuz a happy-go-lucky, gregarious cattle industry leader whose stature and girth made him ill-fitted to manage his ranch from horseback, so he opted instead to do all his ranch work from the front seat of a little Chevy pickup, with his faithful Dalmatian tail-wagger constantly at his side on in the pickup bed.
Baron had a pasture full of wring-tailed, rank, big-eared feeder steers that all carried a good dose of Brahman blood in them and some of them, if pushed beyond their comfort level, could display their bucking kinfolks bad attitude and ill-disposition toward mankind.
When it came shipping time, Baron and his cowboys went to the pasture for the roundup. And, for the most part, the roundup wuz routine until near the shipping pens four of the rankest old steers headed back into the hills and there wuz no turning them without losing the whole bunch. So Baron made a quick management decision to “just let those four go and we’ll come back for ‘em another day.” The big bunch of the steers shipped out normally that day.
In the days that followed, Baron took it onto himself to “get those renegade steers used to the truck, so we can catch ‘em.” And, everyday he took a few flakes of alfalfa hay to the pasture in the Chevy and over time got those four steers to come to the pickup for their treat.
Well, on the fateful day of this story, Baron told B. A. to get his horse and meet him in the pasture to pen those “brammers.” He said the two of them could do the job as the steers would now follow the Chevy right into the pens.
When they arrived at the pasture, B. A. found the steers and gently herded the skittish critters toward Baron’s Chevy. When they saw Baron’s pickup, which he had parked in easy view right on the crest of a steep ridge, they came a’runnin’ to get their alfalfa.
This is what happened as B. A. watched a’horseback from afar:
As the steers neared, Baron put the tail-gate down in the pickup, broke open a bale of alfalfa, and sprinkled a judicious amount on the ground to get them started eating, with the intent to get them to follow the Chevy to the pens for the “big reward.”
Just as the steers cautiously approached Baron and the alfalfa, the faithful Dalmatian started barking from the pickup bed and one of the “brammers” took exception to the noise, lowered his head, and came steamrolling right at Baron and the dog.
Baron sized the situation up in a micro-second and made a ranch management decision that he didn’t have time to make the door, so he hunkered his portly frame as best he could under the pickup tailgate.
Now it got really interesting as the Dalmatian came to Baron’s rescue by escalating his barking and aggressiveness and the steer responded by doing his best to get at the dog and in the process lowered his head and gave the pickup a big shove — just barely enuf to get it started rolling downhill.
In a few moments, the Chevy picked up steam and slowly rattled out of sight down into the valley with the Dalmatian still on-board barking at the top of his lungs. It didn’t take long for Baron to realize his unprotected vulnerability. So he made another split-second ranching decision and exploded from his “turtle” position with a loud yell right into the ill-tempered “brammer’s” face.
Baron’s act of rodeo-clown bravado saved the day (and probably part of his hide) as the “explosion” startled the steer into a tail-wringing full retreat.
As B. A. rode his horse to the scene, Baron exclaimed, “Now THAT was a close call. Now, where’s the Chevy?”
B. A. and Baron easily found the pickup — half-immersed in a scenic Flint Hills pond at the bottom of the ridge.
I never heard how the Chevy wuz retrieved, what happened to the Dalmatian, or how those renegade “brammer” steers finally got shipped. I’m just thankful for portion of the story I got.
Since this column is all about attitude, good and bad, I’ll wind it up with a few wise words about attitude. Some anonymous wag said, “Sometimes being too nice is dangerous, you have to show your mean side once in a while to avoid getting hurt.”
A dude named Anmol Andore said, “Life is best for those who enjoy it. Difficult for those who analyze it and worse for those who criticize it. Our attitude defines our life.”
And, famous song writer Irving Berlin said, “Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”
All those quotes work for me. So keep it cool, and have a good ‘un.