Baxter Black: Man against beast |

Baxter Black: Man against beast

Baxter Black
Baxter Black

Man against beast is a theme in many a story, from days of yore to 21st-century wolves ravaging baby calves.

It usually takes a hero to slay the dragon or sue the Environmental Protection Agency. Heroes often battle with giants, against all odds: David and Goliath, Jack and the Beanstalk or the Alamosa High School Maroons vs. Miami Heat.

Dennis had his opportunity to rise to the occasion. He is a farmer-feeder in the San Luis Valley. That part of Colorado demands a persistent, patient sort of person. The stubborn soil, fickle moisture and independent neighbors don’t tolerate pansies.

Dennis came home from his day job. Days were getting short. He also had a meeting with the La Jara Stake after he finished his chores. He had a line of concrete feed bunks and was feeding his cow herd. The 1981 4440 John Deere that he inherited was still in service. He loaded his Jay Lore feeder-mixer that was hooked up to his farm truck. His dog jumped in the cab with Dennis, and they started down the line of bunks. All of a sudden, a mouse shot across the dashboard right to left.

Denny reared back as the dog leaped into his lap, looking over the steering wheel in search of the rambling rodent. The mouse reversed his direction … the dog was barking and bouncing back and forth … Dennis was banging the dashboard trying to crush Mickey with his free hand, or both hands.

The agile vermin leaped from the dashboard onto the back of the seat. He crawled over Dennis’ shoulder and dove down between his legs, and the dog followed. Luckily, or unluckily, the varmint slid over the seat and down his irrigation boot. Denny smashed the furry critter against his leg through the rubber boot top. He held the trespasser tight, like one would grip a hot dog through the bun.

It was then he looked up. He was in the part ditch long past the bunks. The Jay Lore was 30 degrees off level from the truck, which was 30 degrees off level from the gravel road.

Thank goodness he hit a culvert and high-centered the front axle. There was a screech, and the rig ground to a halt. It was one of those “Thank you, Lord” moments.

Later at the meeting, he portrayed the incident as a miracle of sorts, hoping his explanation would lessen the impact on his neighbor, the Bishop, when he noticed 50 feet of his new wire fence had been ripped out by its posts.

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