You don’t have to own yearling cattle that get out on the highway after you have gone to bed at night to appreciate this story. What you will understand is first the humor and then the rancher’s gratitude for the little things.
The cowboy’s bride had been trying to fight off a Boone and Crockett-sized head cold for days so she wasn’t in the best of humor and had very little sleep for several nights in a row.
About 9 p.m. on this night she took some cold medicine hoping it would help both the cold and the sleep problems. She tossed and turned, got up at 1 a.m. and took more medication and went back to bed. About 2:30 a.m. the phone rang. That is never a good thing.
It was their neighbor Jim telling her that they had lots of cattle on the highway and they were headed north up the canyon.
She slapped her still sleeping husband upside the head, mostly to wake him up but more so out of simple frustration. After 30-plus years of marriage she was sure he didn’t know the difference.
Pulling on their cowboy clothes, they stumbled out into the dark, jumped in the pickup and drove to the escapees last known location. Jim had been able to get in front of most of the cattle and had them headed back down the highway towards home.
The local sheriff was on the scene in his fancy car and was managing to hit the cranky cowboy wife in the eyes with his high powered spotlight whenever possible. When the sheriff wasn’t blinding her, her husband was with his own Q-Beam. She noted that one million candle power in your face at three in the morning is not soothing.
She was leading the cattle with the pickup and Jim was bringing up the rear of the herd. Husband was riding in the back of her pickup in case he needed a fast getaway. She was slightly amused that at this point he trusted her driving but then she realized he still hadn’t figured out that she’d slapped him earlier.
They got the cattle to the gate of the pasture where they belonged and as cattle will do, they came untrained and headed back north up the canyon again. She wheeled out to go help Jim and both were trying to out run the cattle up the highway. Husband was hanging out the back of the truck telling her something that sounded like “stop” so she hit the brakes.
He had said “stop” but didn’t intend for a slam-the-brakes kind of stop. He rolled over the side of the truck and recovered on his feet enough to block a side road off the highway. The cattle finally went through the gate on the second try while the sheriff was still waving his spotlight around and trying to figure out who was on first.
They got home about 4:30 that morning. Cowboy wife got up and fixed sandwiches for the crew that would be arriving soon to help them drive those same cattle up the same road they had been running down in the night. But this time it was with some control and with a destination of the mesa top beyond.
Her thankfuls for the night were for good neighbors, gentle cattle and a full moon.
How did Jim know the cattle were on the highway you ask? He got up sometime after 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom and saw car headlights slowing down and weaving to miss the cattle.
With that revelation, the wife then thanked God for old men with weak bladders.
Julie can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.