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9/26/2005

Pickup Cowboys

Gray’s Ranch has handled Hereford cattle for around 95 years. We’ve jest about centuried out. We’ve seen all the ups and downs of the cattle business. We’ve suffered through our own fair share of losses. Jest part of the business.  
 
We love our Hereford cattle and consider them to be as much a part of the family as grandma & granddad Gray. In sickness and in health as they say. One sickness that is a recurrent problem with Herefords is pinkeye. Some years we have experienced near epidemic proportions of pinkeye not only among the calves but in grown cows.  
 
We’ve done about everything that has been suggested to fight the disease. Sometimes the treatment will appear to work for awhile only to come back with a vengeance a year or two later. We’ve culled susceptible animals with the idea that those animals that don’t get pinkeye are in some way genetically immune. It could be working. This year we’ve only had one cow with a serious case. One calf experienced a “runny” eye but seemed to clear up very quickly.  
 
So, it just happened that we decided to catch that cow this past Sunday. We figgered we could jest throw a loop on her from the pickup and save goin’ ta get a hoss. An’ we were right. Michael threw that loop straight and true an’ she was ours. We tied her up to the tire and gave her a shot of LA200 which seems ta get the job done on the pinkeye.  
 
Then we went ta turn her loose. Ya know, they make ropes with break-away hondos so that when you want to let the cow loose all ya gotta do is yank on the hondo and the rope releases from whatever you’ve caught. Did we have one? No…  
 
So, here we were trying to loosen up the rope, but every time we gave her slack she jest pulled back tighter! I finally got the bright idea to throw another rope on her horns. I figured that once I slipped the first rope off her neck she’d give me a little time to work that loop loose from her horns. Always worked before!  
 
This time I wasn’t fast enough. She recovered from the fight and jerked back just as I was about to get the loop off her horns. I reached for the rope that was sizzling around the ball hitch at the back of the pickup and found out why ya ALWAYS wanta wear gloves! The rope burnt hide as it flew threw my fingers. I instantly yelled out some words I’d rather not repeat and released the rope as that little gal charged across the pasture. My fingers felt like they were on fire and I let out another string of words that, no, I’d rather folks didn’t know that I can speak like that. 
 
It just so happened that this pasture is split in two by a large pond of water and she was on the run to the other side. Getting to the other side involved driving out of the pasture and entering through another gate. We met the herd as it was charging in the direction of Nebraska on the other side. The cow was dragging the rope. Catching her would actually be easy. As she went by the pickup I just drove the tire over the trailing rope. With the rope under the tire she was once again ours. This time she was tired enough that Michael could get behind her and push her forward just enough to get slack in the rope and in only a few seconds she was free and we had our rope back.  
 
We looked at each other knowingly. Shoulda used a hoss after all… 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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