In the old days, I resigned myself that bad luck came in threes, i.e., three flat tires, three smashed fingers or three social faux pas. It’s comforting to know that good ol’ Dakota Mike is still proving my theory.
And, I’m not even counting the initial injury that resulted in a swollen right knee, which put him down for a solid week.
It was very bad timing, since he was calving heifers and was very particular about tagging and vaccinating newborns and kept meticulous records.
His darling wife fed before and after her town job but couldn’t do the horseback heifer check. But she did notice the hole in the wire fence had allowed some mixing. Dakota Mike paced-in-place and fretted until Saturday when she could help him catch up.
With her help, he saddled Forrest, a bay mustang-plow horse cross they named after Forrest Gump. He was big and gentle but not a quick learner.
She rode Pony. Mike loaded his saddlebag with tags, vaccine and syringes. He figgered he could pack the nearly empty spindle of barbwire. Darlin’ would carry the fence stretcher and pliers.
He stood on the tie pile to mount. Wincing, he got his right leg swung over the saddle and gently maneuvered his tennis-shoed foot into the right stirrup. He squared up and eased Forrest up beside the pickup where he had preplaced the wire roll.
He reached down with his right hand and picked up the wire. The loose roll made a queer rattling sound. One that Forrest recognized from the rattlesnake program on the Discovery Channel.
He hunched and fired straight back with both hind legs! Mike had his left hand outstretched with the reins, his right hand outstretched with the wire, his left foot in the stirrup, and his noodle right leg hanging limp.
In the time it took him to realize he should drop the wire and grab the horn, Forrest had punched him into a two-point landing under Pony’s feet. Darlin’ leaned over and asked, “Are you alright?”
“Go catch my horse,” he said, palpating his scraped forehead and sore right shoulder.
With the fence repaired, they rode into the heifers. Mike prided himself on his cows’ mothering instinct. He creaked off his horse, noting the nearby mama cow pawing the ground, and quietly snuck up on a still-wet newborn with loaded ear tagger and syringe.
He carefully dropped down on the calf with one knee. In a blinding flash he was flying backwards, banging his head on the frozen cowpies and filling his collar with muck.
“Are you alright?” Darlin’ asked. “Go catch my horse,” he said.
Across the pasture he again detached himself from Forrest and approached another newborn. Not seeing the mother, he managed to straddle this one and was supporting it between his trembling limbs.
He felt something in his crotch and looked down. A black nose and muzzle the exact size and width of a cow’s head protruded between his legs. In less time than he could put two and two together, he was catapulted in a flailing arc 10 feet in front of the calf and had somehow managed to ear tag his left pant leg.
“Are you alright?” Darlin’ asked. “Go…” he grunted.
“I know,” she said, “I know.”
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: