Beware of the beetle

Robin lives in a valley that is dotted with grazing pasture and selected irrigated vegetables. She has neighbors who graze yearling heifers to sell in the fall and another neighbor who grows pickling cucumbers.

Her heifer neighbors, Barry and Claire, had their yearlings comin’ on strong. The grass held up and they supplemented them. Their heifer market was good, but one of the requirements of their buyers were that they were guaranteed “open” as opposed to bred. To their dismay, one of the cattlemen in the valley had his bulls, good bulls, no doubt, but still bulls, within “wafting distance” of the 600 yearin’ heifers. I’m guessing 50 or so were in the estrogenic phase of the estrus cycle on any given day. A wreck was predictable!

That day came. A rutting Angus was discovered in with the heifers. In concert Barry and Claire opened gates on each end of the pasture. They cared not which end the bull went out of, just as long as he went! They were horseback and got the bull headed in a long trot toward one end. He became agitated and stirred up, as any testosterone carrier can in the presence of estrogen dispensers. The bull shifted into high gear and was roaring and blowing when he swerved from the gate and plowed through the four-strand bobwire fence…into the pickle grower’s field where workers were hard at it.

Normally the biggest enemy of cucurbits (cucumbers, pumpkin, squash and calabash) is the nasty little cucumber beetle. It comes in striped or spotted attire and carries the dreaded bacterial wilt. However, on this day a bull tornado was heading that way!

El Toro crashed through the field scattering gherkins, trailing vines, dragging yards of black plastic covers, startling pickle pickers and ambushing bacterial wilt! He upset boxes, bags and bugs! Cucumber beetles were racing for cover!

According to the rules of OSHA, one chemical toilet should be available per 20 people. In our pickle farmer’s situation only one Tommy’s Totable Toidies stood tall in the field.

Tommy’s business logo was a bull’s eye on the door. Whether the logo had any influence or not, the green outhouse with the black and white bull’s eye drew the attention of the mad bull. He attacked it, knocking it over and rolling it several times. It was a page out of the rodeo clown’s “man in the barrel” instruction manual.

Barry thundered by after the bull, chasing him down the road while Claire was calling the bull’s owner. She left a message then looked back at the overturned Toteable Toidy. It had landed with door up. It creaked open and a head appeared. It was as you might expect, except he was still wearing his hat.

Although it was very inappropriate, she couldn’t help herself. And…she already had her Smart Phone out, so she took a picture. She told herself it might be needed if OSHA ever became involved.

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: headcowboy@baxterblack.com

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