Baxter Black: The sneak attack

There is more than one definition for pasture roping, as Carter pointed out to me.

It was during calving season. He and his wife were making the 5 p.m. heifer check. They were in the pickup driving through the calving pasture and noted a good size critter in the process of calving. They had seen it earlier. She’d been at it several hours and seemed to be tuckered out.

His wife’s suggestion that it might be wiser to try and push the cow to the calving corral flew in like a mosquito by his ear, but he swatted it away. Carter prided himself on his “sneaking prowess.”

“I believe I can do a good ‘pasture sneak’ on her. Even out here in the open.”

She rolled her eyes. He cautioned her to be still.

He had no chains and handles with him.

“We could go back and get them,” his wife said.

He swatted away her wisdom. “That would take 10 minutes! And I could’ve done snuck up on her by then!”

He chose instead to use the 30-foot team roping rope soft-lay coiled up in the bed of the pickup.

To her skeptical eye, he made what he later called, “A perfect sneak,” up to the resting heifer. And it was impressive, especially when you realized it was a good 100 yards. She never moved.

He looked back at his wife and gave her a thumbs up. He put the loop on one of the calf’s feet and was trying to wind a half hitch on the other foot.

During the process, the heifer kept throwing her head to see what was going on. Carter leaned forward and put a little pressure on her so she would stay down.

It didn’t work. She rose from the spot like a Trident missile and hit top speed in two leaps. Twenty-feet of rope burned through Carter’s paws as he sat there. As luck would have it, and it sometimes does, the half hitch came tight … around his arm, and he was jerked to his feet faster than you can say, “W-A-T-E-R-S-K-I-E-R.”

For the first few yards, he maintained his track star status, then went into a tumbling routine worthy of any gymnast. At one point, he performed a figure skater triple axel, a high-diver half-gainer, a skateboarder triple misty flip, and finished the last 20 yards leaping brush, irrigation pipe, a cut bank, and an abandoned harrow like a hurdler with his tail on fire.

Thank goodness the cow was slowing down when she leaped through the turned-over round bale feeder and finally tripped on a buried hot-wire fence that surrounded the compost heap.

“Mother!” he cried from the wreckage, “Mother, come dally this rope around somethin’. I don’t want to waste this good sneak. I might make a T-shirt out of it.”

His wife swerved in with the pickup and jumped out. Carter was untangling the hitches off his longest arm. She tied the rope hard and fast to the bumper ball and, with her at the wheel and him at the back, on foot, they cajoled the cow the last 20 yards to the corrals.

After examining the damage, he discovered some parts missing.

“Mother, reckon you could go back to the pasture and see if you can find my hat and my left boot?”

She looked at him, “Why don’t you just sneak on down there and find it yourself.”

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