By Baxter Black, DVM
Awhile back I decided to build up my ranching reputation by improving my equipment. I purchased a 1997 crew cab GMC one-ton diesel with only 254,000 miles on it. I traded in a 74 one-ton flat bed F350 with a winch, plus $4,000. I asked the used car dealer if I could keep the winch. He said it was the only reason he took the flatbed in trade!
Cal told me his neighbor Jerry came by to show him his new purchase. A brand-spankin’ new ¾ ton 4-wheel drive with payments of $600 a month over 5 years…but, what Jerry was most proud of was a 20-ton winch with 50’ of cable mounted on the front bumper. Jerry talked Cal into goin’ to check cows with him. It was a beautiful fall day in the Palouse country of Idaho. Miles of yellow pasture and wheat stubble, not a tree in sight. As they motored through the herd they noticed a cow with a lump on her jaw, one big tit and, what looked like a bundle of wire around one foot.
Together these cowmen decided to catch her, tie her to a fence to remove the wire and maybe lance the lump. They rifled through his toolbox and found an old rope and a halter with no lead rope. Cal easily caught the cooperative cow and haltered her. Before he could get the rope attached, Jerry suggested that he hook the winch to the halter. It was just an excuse to play with his new toy.
They pulled 20’ of cable from the winch and hooked it to the halter. Jerry stood by the winch with the remote in his hand like Theodore Roosevelt in a backhoe about to take his first bite out of the Panama Canal…modern man vs. Mother Nature.
The cow immediately pulled back and went ballistic! She raced to the right till the cable tightened and swung her around the pickup behind the right rear wheel well! She managed to take Jerry out with the cable, broke off the headlight, tore off the side mirror and bashed in the rear fender.
As soon as Jerry arose, the cow reversed course and made the left side symmetrical! Jerry climbed on the hood, remote in hand, as the cow continued to swing back and forth pendularly, from one side to the other.
By the time she was reeled in tight to the winch, the pickup looked like it had been in a dogfight with a switch engine! One taillight survived, unlike both headlights, side panels, mirrors and the driver’s side window.
They removed the tangle of wire and wisely decided to cut the nylon halter off with a pocket knife rather than give her some slack and try to unbuckle it.
Good thinking, I’d say.