Baxter Black: The battle of Ruddy Creek

Ron said it was just one of those days. In fact, it was the day before the regular auction in Fort Pierre, S.D.

He had sorted off a truckload of cows he needed to get rid of.  They were in a rain-soaked pasture down by the road that had no corral.

No sweat.

He and his son hauled a set of portable panels and ramp to a wire fence by the road and assembled a loading pen. It took considerable cowboy skills to ease the bunch into the strange set up.

The neighbor across the road had a pasture full of range hogs and farrowing facilities. Two sows heard the ruckus on the highway and came to check it out. 

These 400-pound curious beasts arrived, spooking the cows who turned and stampeded back to the other side of the pasture.

It took until noon to re-gather the renegade cattle, pen them and load them in the truck. Our cowboys climbed aboard and things went smoothly until they topped the rise that sloped down to Rudy Creek Bridge.

An hour earlier, a reservation farmer who was pulling a 40-foot singlewide mobile home headed south on Highway 63 had high-centered on the Rudy Creek Bridge.

The hapless mover was laying planks in front of the axles to drag it over. Ron topped the rise, saw the blocked bridge and stomped on the brakes.

He managed to reduce his speed to 20 miles per hour before he drove the nose of his truck all the way into the built-in shower and bath combination.

Ten tons of beef loaded in the back of a charging diesel behemoth packs quite a punch.

It was 4:30 p.m. before the wreck was untangled and they could proceed. The radiator survived but the compressor and headlights were broken; no lights, no brakes.

As the dusk began to descend they were drawn between driving faster to save daylight, or driving slower so they could stop. Ron crested another hillock and, “Lord, have mercy!” saw two cowboys pushing a small bunch of cows down the road.

Ron laid on the horn.

The runaway truck sailed through a flurry of cows that scattered to both sides. 

Over the bar ditches and through the fences they flew. Ron could actually hear the screaming and curses over the engine and the blaring horn.

At the sale the next day, Ron told his story many times. 

And, with each telling he became a better driver, a good Samaritan, a tour guide, a historian and eventually he absolved himself of any responsibility for the damages done. He blamed it all on the pigs.

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