Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chapter 122 Walk the Talk

1980 was a watershed year for me. Suddenly, I became aware of my lack of biblical knowledge. Although I had gone to Sunday school and church since I was a small boy, I could not sit you down and walk you through the Bible. All my classes had used “Para-Biblical” material and not the Bible itself. I was a little angry at the church and we started going to Northwest Bible Church. Our friend, John Eagle, had invited us to attend. John was one of the finest Christian men I ever knew. The first Sunday we went to Sunday school the teacher was Don Campbell, who was the academic Dean of Dallas Seminary. He was teaching right out of the Bible and we knew we were at the right place.

I enrolled in and started attending Don’s Friday morning Bible study at the Dallas Aerobic center on Preston Road. I also took a correspondence course on the Old Testament. I was so hungry for the Word; I was soaking it all up like a sponge.

After about a year or so, Charlotte and I were eating Mexican Food in Plano one night, when a couple from our old Sunday school class came in. Of course we invited them to join us. This was Everett and Vancie Hamm. Everett was sort of a quiet, slow talking guy from the country and he asked me what we had been doing. I poured my story out to him and he listened attentively. After I had gone on and on he said, “Well George, after you get all this knowledge about the Bible what are you going to do with it?” I was thunderstruck. I had not thought of that at all. I said, “I guess I would like to teach adults what I had not been taught about God’s Word.” Everett then says, “We have missed you all and we don’t have a teacher for this Sunday, how about it?” I guess it was time for me to put up or shut up. I said,” We will be there.” For the next twenty-six years I was a teacher in that Sunday school class.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chapter 121 Bully for You

Talking about Jessie reminds me of another case of bad judgment on my part. My neighbor just west of Jessie’s house was an old Geezer that lived in a trailer on about five acres that joined me at my west fence line. He had a sorry bull that was about ¼ Jersey, ¼ Holstein and ½ nuthin. That bull had a habit of breaking through the fence between us and trying to breed my registered Charolais cows. I was selling my heifers for about $1800 and my bulls for about $1200 at that time. If he bred one of my cows that calf would only bring about $500 at the most.

Each time that sorry bull showed up in my pasture, Jessie would pen him and feed him till Geezer was at home and then Jessie would load the bull up and take him back. I told Jessie to go down and rebuild the fence between Geezer and us so tight and strong, an elephant couldn’t get through it. Jessie reported back that he had put in extra posts and two extra wires and the job was done. About two weeks later two of our cows came in (ready to breed) and his sorry bull showed up in my pasture. I called Geezer again and told him if I had to catch his bull and pen him up one more time I was going to load him up and take him to the sale barn. The Geezer said he was so sorry and he would keep his bull at home.

Well, about two weeks later a couple more of our cows were in and I had told Jessie to keep a sharp eye out for that bull whenever that happened. Sure enough here comes his bull. Jessie and his boys ran the bull up into our pens and then called me. I told Jessie to take him to the sale barn. Jessie did and I called and gave the barn the address to send the check to Geezer. A little later, I began to reflect on this whole incident. That fence was strong. We had made sure of that by rebuilding it. The Geezer did not have a trailer and he only had two cows, both bred. DANG! I have been out maneuvered again! That slick old guy did not have a trailer and no money to hire anyone to take his bull to the sale barn, and I just did it for free! I guess that Geezer was not as dumb as I thought.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chapter 120 Unfriendly Persuasion

Jessie Perkins worked for us for many years. He and his family lived on the place at Blue Ridge. One of the cows there was another high-headed wild cow from another bunch of cattle I had bought. I told Jessie to load her up and take her to the sale barn before she ruined the whole herd. The next morning, we were loading out the delivery trucks at the Nursery and we had about 40 people working.  It seemed like every one of them had a problem for me to deal with that morning. I was so busy, up to my armpits in alligators and I got a call from Jessie. 

“We can’t get her in the trailer. Little Jessie and Bryan and me tried but she won’t go”. I was steamed. I said “Jessie, put that cow in the trailer; do whatever you need to do but just load her”.  Jessie calls an hour later, “George, we can’t get her to do nothing”. I was hopping mad and I said, “Jessie, I will be there in an hour”. I was extremely mad at Jessie, and by the time I drove 30 minutes to Blue Ridge, I was at a rolling boil.

I arrived in a cloud of dust and got out of my pickup. Jessie, little Jessie (age 16), his friend Bryan and the whole family were standing by the pens peeking through the boards at this obstinate old cow in the pen. I always carried an oak ax handle behind the seat of my pickup (I still have it). I reached for my ax handle and walked over to the corral. Jessie said to not go into the corral because she had almost run them down when they tried to load her. I did not say a word. I climbed over the fence into the pen with Mrs. Mean. (All my cattle were gentle and I generally moved them around with a feed bucket but every once in a while you would get a bad one. The only thing to do was get rid of her).

She lowered her head and started for me. I tried to booger her by waving my arms and walking toward her. She had been so successful putting everyone over the fence, she was not going to pay any attention to me, expecting me to make a run for the fence. I took a stance like Mickey Mantle and as she got to me, I laid a lick across her eyes you could have heard half way into the next county. She sort of shook her head, backed away and stood there looking at me, slobbering at the mouth and rolling her eyes. She was putting on a big “mean” show, pawing the ground and making heavy breathing sounds. Then she lowered her head to make another run at me. I didn't move except I drew back my ax handle, showing her I was ready for her to bring it on.  

She stopped and we locked eyes as I took a couple of practice swings with my ax handle. She was thinking, “Is he bluffing? Why doesn't he run?” I guess she decided, “No, he is not bluffing”. She turned around, calmly trotted to the other end of the corral, into the chute and up into the trailer. I slammed the rear door of the trailer and locked it down. I stalked back across the dusty corral to the fence, climbed over it, and got into my pickup. I then drove off, never saying one word to anyone.

A day or two later, I was at the feed store and Carroll, the owner, said, “I understand that you had to give Jessie a little help loading a cow”. I was surprised because, I had told no one, not even Charlotte. He said little Jessie had told him the story with tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. About a week after our little show I came into Bill's Cafe one morning about 6 AM for breakfast. All the farmers, ranchers and businessmen of McKinney met there almost every morning. One of the ranchers I knew pretty well jumped up and offered me his chair with great overacting saying, ”Mr. Field (he never called me anything but George) please take my seat.” I was embarrassed and took a lot of ribbing and goodnatured joking for about a month. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chapter 119 Hell's Bales

We baled a lot of hay between May and the end of September, the hottest time of the year. We started baling as soon as the hay was dry enough in the morning and would bale all day. As soon as the bales hit the ground we would start loading and hauling. We had a flatbed ton and half truck that would haul 100 bales at a time.  You would pick the bales up and throw them on to the truck and if no one was on the bed of the truck, you would jump up there every once in a while and stack the bales, then jump down and start throwing bales up again. 

Once the truck was loaded, you drove into the barn in an alleyway. Next, you would start throwing the bales up in to the hayloft. The bales usually weighed from 65 to 70 lbs. and would seem like 150 lbs. at the end of a long day. Chip and Tom worked on the weekends and all during the summer. We went “high tech” when I bought each of them their own hay hook. Their job was especially tough when they got up in the top of the hayloft in the barn. It was about 130 degrees in there with hay dust in their noses, eyes and ears, Chip had hay fever and his eyes would be running as well as his nose. I always accused him of wanting to get out of climbing up in the barn but it would be too much for Tom to handle by himself. Charlotte was usually the driver of the truck. 
Chip and Tom helped with the baling every summer. I remember being at a Christmas party with Chip and Pamela one time down in the Park Cities. Chip was talking a short way from me to a group of men telling “That’s nuthin” stories. I overheard Chip announce, “I know exactly what Hell is like. It’s baling hay in Collin County in the middle of August.” All his friends laughed but I think he was probably dead serious.

One August afternoon Bob Cox and I were baling hay over at the Desert place. Bob was loading the trailer and pulling it with our tractor. I was finishing out a load on the big truck. It was late afternoon and 100 plus degrees. I was standing on the top of the load about 15 feet off the ground and pushing in the last bale at the very back with my boot. As I stepped back my boot caught in the wire around the bale and I went off backward from the top of the load. I lit head first and tried to turn so I would land on my shoulders but my arm slammed into the ground with a terrific force. 

I knew immediately I had broken it. I got up and determined I had not broken anything else and unbuttoned my shirt and slipped my arm into it. I got into the truck and drove it over to where Bob was, got out and started driving the tractor so he could finish the loading the trailer that held about 80 bales. I drove the loaded trailer to a barn we had on the place and parked it inside the barn. When I came out to meet Bob and the hay truck, he spotted my arm in my shirt for the first time. He asked, “What’s wrong with your arm?” I replied,” I broke it.” 

He said let’s get on into McKinney (20 miles) and get you to a doctor. We drove to the emergency room at the hospital and a Dr. Larry Hines set it. He said I had broken it in three places above the wrist. It was about to rain so Bob drove on to my farm to get the truck with hay out of the weather and into the barn. 

Photo of hay raking found here.  
Photo of hay baling found here.  
Photo of tractor with bales found here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chapter 118 In the Fast Lane

I went to the Texas A&M research facility in Denton and had several of our cows bred to their Buffalo bull. About six months later there was a “Beefalo” sale at Grand Island, Nebraska. I loaded up about four bred cows and left for the sale. My cattle sold right away for a good price and during the sale I was sitting next to a man from San Antonio who had originated “Church’s Fried Chicken.” We visited a lot during the sale and had lunch together. At lunch he mentioned that he had bought about twenty head of cattle and would have to find a trucker to haul his cattle to Texas.

I told him I was going back to Texas with an empty trailer and would be glad to haul about ten of his cows to his ranch north of San Antonio. He was delighted, of course, and after the sale they finally loaded me out at about midnight. I had been waiting all evening to get started and had spent time talking to several others that had volunteered to haul Church’s cattle. I was loaded out first and we agreed to meet about daylight at Gainesville at the truck stop just inside the Texas line for breakfast. Since I was loaded first I took off for Texas with my load. I crossed the line into Kansas about 2 AM and continued to roll on through the night to the Oklahoma line. I was rocking and rolling about 70 mph as I crossed into Oklahoma at about 3:30 or 4:00AM headed south for Texas. I pulled into the Gainesville truck stop about daylight and parked to wait my fellow truckers arrival. After an hour or so I dropped off to sleep to be awakened by a knocking on my window by one of the fellow truckers.

We went into breakfast and I realized it was several hours since I had arrived. I said, “Where in the heck have y’all been? I have been here for over three hours.” They responded, “When we pulled into the highway patrol/agriculture station upon entering Oklahoma to get clearance to enter the state they checked all our papers and the brand on every cow. We were there for two hours before they would let us through.”  I had to admit I had totally forgotten to stop and had just barreled on through. Oh well, I guess my luck was with me this time! After breakfast we all traveled in tandem and delivered Church’s cattle to his ranch on Hwy 46 between New Braunfels and Boerne in Comal county north Of San Antonio.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chapter 117 Parlez Moo Francais?

In 1979 our Charolais cattle business continued to grow with the addition of some land we bought near Blue Ridge and 1000 acres we leased at Merit, TX. We also had a partnership with Charles Hogg on 418 irrigated acres south of Devine, Texas that I had sold to him. All in all, we peaked out at about 400 mama cows plus our bulls and heifers we had for sale. At the same time, we were running the Nursery and we were going to stock shows and sales. 

We bought and sold Charolais and had several men working for us in the cattle business. We moved a lot of cattle to Devine on that irrigated coastal Bermuda grass. After we baled hay, we would turn in the cattle to clean up broken bales and along all the fence lines where we could not cut the grass. During haying season, we had several semi flatbed trucks waiting to load up almost every morning. 
Our French Purebred bull Astro weighed over 2000 pounds

Charles and I would meet at Evant, Texas at the city square. This was half way between Devine and McKinney. I would back my full load of cows up against the back of Charles's and, we would transfer the cows from my trailer to his. We would get a bite to eat at the city cafe and, he would head south to Devine and I would head north with an empty trailer to McKinney.

We had a purebred French bull named Astro. We put one of his calves on a feed test in Oklahoma. Astro's calf was tested for weight gain over a six month period and his calf out gained all ten of the other calves on the test, each of the others from different bull.

I always tried to be on the leading edge of the next wave of Real Estate, the Nursery business or the Cattle business. About this time there was talk of crossing our native buffalo with domestic cattle. Charles Goodnight had tried for years to do this without much success back in the late 1800’s. Never the less some research advocates felt the time had come for us to try again with this cross. It would give you the rugged, lean meat of the Buffalo with the conformation, milking ability and gentleness of the domestic cow. I felt if this was going to work the Charolais would be the perfect match.