by Larry Innerarity

The worst possible time of the year - the end of July when east Texas is hot and humid. Thats when the cattle arrived.

"We cant help the weather, Pop. The Futurity comes every October and ya cant run a cow dog futurity without cattle. So, you count em while we get them off this truck". Dad and I doctored those heifers for everything they might have, and, anything they might get, from black leg to the measles, then turned them out to the meadow...

Early every morning, midday, and late afternoon each yearling was checked to see how low her head hung, and just how deep the cough came from. Most doctoring visits went off without a hitch.

Here is the simple 10 step procedure:

  1. Put sack of LONE STAR CUBES in little pickup and drive out to cattle.

  2. Get cattle to follow truck with cubes through long alley to first small trap.

  3. When you get first 240 head through long alley, jump out of truck, run around working pen and slam gate shut on last 20, or 25 head. That's where the sick ones are at the end of the line.

  4. Send Lucy, Border Collie, around 25 head and pen them in working arena beside long alley.

  5. Stand and think about where you will put your catch pen and working chute when you get time to finish lot.

  6. Rope sick heifer, hold on tight.

  7. As heifer passes by pecan tree, run around other side and take up slack.

  8. Compel heifer to come closer to tree.

  9. Tie off rope and doctor.

  10. Gently remove rope.

Then one day the "heifer from hell" got sick. Step 1-5 went as planned. When I got to step 6, my problems started. I use a nylon-type rope that I bought in 1972. There is some sort of cork looking stuff the nylon is woven around that makes it strong as a log chain. I have pulled the truck out of a bog, drug dead cattle off, pulled logs for firewood, and you name it, with that old faithful rope. But - it don't throw worth a crap. Should have quit and went to lunch. Finally got step 6 completed.

When we got to the pecan tree, I knew she wasn't that sick. The heifer from hell went around the tree, skipping steps 7 & 8. While using the tree as a shield, I completed step 9. While I was catching my breath I reviewed step 5, and doctored the heifer from hell.

Step 10 - untie rope, and gently give enough slack to release heifer from hell. Slack released and the "gentle" removal process was taking place when heifer from hell bolted, running off with the rope. "Hey, one more heifer to doctor. You can't have my rope!" Okay, put the heifer in the long alley because I was not fast enough to catch up with the rope. Plan was to jump on fence as heifer passed by, quickly jumping down to grab rope and repeat step 7.

All went as planned until the heifer ran at me, I jumped on the fence, the heifer misses, I drop to ground on rope, grab tight and off to pecan tree. The heifer from hell got tangled in the rope and fell. Hmmm, we think we may skip step 7. Exhausted, the heifer lays quietly while I hand over hand up the rope, making my way to her head.

Rope coils around left foot of cowboy. Heifer from hell bounds to her feet, as cowboy takes an instant to review step 5. Hat flies off cowboys head, as his body is suspended horizontally in mid-air. (At this time we are taking a minute to review the weather conditions in East Texas. In July, until lunch, there is a heavy dew on the ground. After 264 head of heifers have run through the alley, the dew is not the only thing on the ground.) Somewhere past the pecan tree, God looks down and thinks the cowboy has had enough. The heifer from hell tires of dragging the cowboy and stops. Step 10 is once again attempted and successfully accomplished.

I shared this story with dad and he said, "You know, I told your mother I saw that cow dragging you around that lot. I told her I had to take my nap, but if were still having trouble when I got up, Id go out and give you a hand."

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