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. 

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