Baxter Black: Your own worst enemy |

Baxter Black: Your own worst enemy

It usually happens when you’re by yourself. You’re trying to load a bunch of cows in the 1-ton. It should hold 12 head, but with four to go, they plug up. You’re slappin’ them with the BQA-approved paddle, you chunk a piece of wood at the one in the gate. You’ve actually turned around and leaned up against the last cow in the loading chute, pushing like you were trying to jumpstart your car.

You slide into that stage where cussing is mandatory.

“Git yer sorry, no-good bag of rumen contents in there! You think this is a home for pampered poop processors? I’m gonna cull every one of you if you don’t … Where’s that dog when I need him?”

Then the light dawns. You’re good dog is already in the bed of the truck, guarding his territory.

Another time I was trying to get one of my old farm trucks to start. It was a ’69 Chevy I had bought used. I remember it had a funny smell in the cab. It took weeks to identify it. It was only when I ran in to Oscar Van Oosten’s daughter and recognized the scent of a milking barn that I placed it.

Anyway, I called my daughter out to help me start the truck. I took off the air filter and had her lean under the hood and spray starter fluid (ether) into the top of the carburetor as I sat behind the steering wheel cranking the engine and pumping the gas pedal. It would catch then peter out. We switched positions, to no avail.

I hooked up the tow chain to the old Ford and had her pull me down the driveway, popping the clutch and banging on the chain.

“Dang it!” I said, kicking the tire.

I raised the hood again and stared down at the malignant machine, holding an empty can of starter fluid. My daughter piped up, “You think it’s out of gas, Dad?”

Until you spend all day digging and setting a 9-foot railroad tie in the corner of a 4-acre field you just bought, then finding out the next day somebody moved the survey stake and your rock-solid post should actually be 14 feet to the southwest, do you realize you were just a little hasty. Maybe should have looked at the map a little closer.

My friend John was laying himself a sandstone floor on his mother-in-law’s veranda. He bought a new blade for his circular saw.

“Doing it right,” he said to himself.

He started down a line on a piece 4 1/2 feet long. Then the blade tied up. He pushed and pushed, eventually cursing the sandstone, the veranda, the mother-in-law (quietly), the blade and the workers who made the worthless saw.

His wife heard the racket. She peeked out the screen door and listened to him curse and condemn the hardware store, the safety glasses and his sore leg.

“Maybe,” she said, “it would cut a little easier if you took your knee off the cord.”

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