During Easter of 2003, I had been taking care of a young Brahman heifer I had to bring back from the ranch. She had been injured by what appeared to be a swift kick in the shoulder by one of my donkeys. I couldn’t care for her at the ranch in Independence, so I loaded her up and placed her in a makeshift pen behind my house.
My family had a traditional Easter gathering at my mom’s house. I lived next door to her and I had to pen this heifer in the back yard between our houses to take care of her.
During our family gatherings we always had an Easter egg hunt and the older members in our family would hunt for a money egg instead of candy eggs. A few of the guys in our family are strapping young men who think they are ready to whup the world.
As always, I like to make things a bit more interesting, so I was going to create a ten-dollar egg for them. I thought it would be fun to place an Easter egg on the back of this heifer and let the boys try to capture the egg. This young heifer was in the three fifty to four hundred and fifty pound range and she was just the right size for this make-shift rodeo event, or so I thought.
When a person delivers cattle to an auction barn each animal is tagged with a special number. The tags they use are actually glued onto the animal’s back. They take a tube of glue and squirt some on the tag and then they actually throw the tag, glue side down, on the animals back, never touching the animal. I went to my truck and pulled out the old trusty duct tape and grabbed one of those plastic eggs. I back wrapped the tape around the egg causing the sticky side of the duct tape to be exposed. I figured I could do the same thing with this egg. I simply wanted to throw the egg on the heifer’s back expecting it to stick.
By nature Brahmans are a nervous breed, skittish and sometimes wanting to fight. She had been in my direct care for the past four weeks and fortunately she had become very docile and she had not given me any trouble for the past couple of weeks. I climbed into the pen and with one toss I hit her on the back and when I did all kinds of chaos was started. In one single leap she jumped five foot high onto one of the cattle panels of her enclosure and tore it down like a stack of matches! She immediately bolted from the yard and stood straightway in the middle of Hufsmith Road, staring at the oncoming cars.
As soon as this heifer hit the fence my entire life flashed before me. For the past four weeks I had thought I had broken the life long curse I had carried with animals, because it never fails that if I bring an animal home from the ranch, they are going to get out and attempt to run away! There were only two days left before I was going to take her back to the ranch and this young heifer is about to possibly cause some serious injury or damage to someone. My mind was in a panic.
Some people that have moved into this area have no clue about how to drive near animals. I have seen too many people fly by horses and cattle on the road without giving it a second thought.
As soon my family saw what had happened the men of the family jumped into action. Les, Sonny Wayne, Code Man, Brandon, Justin and Nathan all took off chasing this calf down the road. My neighbor Larry and his wife saw what had happened and they hopped into their truck to give chase too! Cars were stopping and some continued to fly by. People, cars and one animal were all over the road.
The calf ran about two hundred yards east on Hufsmith Road and I jumped on my four wheeler trying to get in front of her and cut her off. I knew that if she ever got down as far as Burroughs Park we might never see her again. Some cars had stopped and people were all joining in trying to corral this calf. It was a madhouse!
We soon got her pushed into our neighbor’s horse farm. When the horses saw this strange animal and she saw them, panic once again erupted! These fine show horses started bucking and kicking and running crazy and all I could think of was the potential loss of monetary value to these horses if one of them were to have injured themselves!
She finally ran off the road and inside a fenced area. I rushed back to the house to get my truck and trailer. We had her cornered around the neighbor’s barn and the guys were holding her at bay, when she suddenly found a gap in the fence and took off again! When I got back with my rig and saw the chaos once again, I seriously thought about putting this heifer down due to the potential hazard she was causing.
As we chased and corralled, ran and waved, hollered and pushed, we even resorted to making a human chain hand in hand, as we tried to corner her. Suddenly one of the ranch hands next door finally got a rope on her and the event was over. My son, Justin tried his hand at roping her too but he ropes like his dad -- not at all! I forgot to teach him you couldn’t stand on the end of your rope while throwing it.
We had no loading chute, but as I pulled from the front with the rope and Les and Justin lifted from the rear we finally got her loaded. She was taken back to the ranch in short order. She is doing fine, but not so for Uncle Les.
After taking an extended body dive at the volleyball earlier in the day he pulled his back a little while lifting the heifer into the trailer and I think he also cut his arm. Once we arrived back at the house with the truck and trailer he stepped off the trailer and twisted his ankle. Poor guy! I just hope he doesn’t abandon me next Easter as it seems this brother in law always gets everybody into some kind of mess.