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Baxter Black

Baxter Black is a cowboy poet, author, vaquero philosophizer, left-handed roper and former large animal veterinarian.

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I never claimed to be a cowman and I’ve got the scars to prove it! Frostbit fingers, baler twine blisters and an odd scrape in the side of my head where the hair won’t grow back from when my good ol’ horse slipped down on an ice slick on the calving lot.

I went out off the front quarter, hung my left spur on the canvas medicine bag that was looped over the horn with parachute chord and lost a chunk of my ear when he drug me, unconscious, over the rusty metal feeder by the gate. My ear now looks like a chew toy!

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It came as a surprise to me that there is a brisk hedgehog business in the country. It shouldn’t have.

Earlier entrepreneurial promoters had done well with Chia Pets, pet rocks, longhorn cattle, ostriches and Humvees.

Hedgehogs (HH) are about the size of an orange with a pointy nose and spiny back. They bring to mind a cross between a pocket-porcupine and a scorpion fish.

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0811pc_black_1I was reminiscing with a group of Dexter breeders. A Michigan farmer named Lew said when he was a boy, his grandpa hired a mule man to clear some timber. It was raining like a cow pouring hot tea on a flat rock!

The mule man sat in his old Chevy coupe with his arm out the window holding onto his harnessed log-skipping mules, Bob and Jim.

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I was having a nice chat with a ranch woman in New Mexico. We wound up discussing children.

Then the subject of sons came up. We noted the special relationship between mothers and sons. Cheri, the ranch woman, said that her son had been a dutiful cowboy ranch kid but had other plans for the future.

 

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June was taking a renegade bull with a tendency to “wander” to the sale barn in Dodge City. Her son helped her load the beast into their stock trailer.

It was an authentic ranch trailer with lights that worked intermittently, gates that swung almost even, tires that didn’t match and compressed rubber floor-planks whose 99-year warranty had expired!

A few miles outside of Dodge, June heard and felt a thump, crack and crunch loud enough to be heard above George Strait on KBUF.

In her rear-view mirror she watched a dark object helicopter out from under the second axle!

She swerved to the right and stopped on a slant in the bar ditch. Upon examination, she found a hole in the floor of the front compartment of the trailer.

The bull, butt to the front, was eyeing the hole nervously. “Simple,” she surmised, “I’ll just open the divider gate and move him into the rear compartment and be on my way.”

She unlatched the gate and swung it open. The bull was coaxed around the hole to the rear and June hurried around to close the divider.

It was on a good slant. She pushed it closed and raced back around to latch it … BUT, not in time! It swung back open. Three times she attempted the maneuver, when she heard someone say, “Can I help you?”

A handsome, strong Kansas State trooper smiled.

June left him to push and hold while she went around to catch and latch.

When the divider banged closed, it spooked the bull who tried to climb over the back gate, slid to the down side and spooked the trooper, who fell back writhing in agony!

He was on the ground grasping his knee! She reached to help him. “No,” he groaned, “I can do it!” He keyed his collar mike, “Officer down! Officer down! I’ve been injured and need assistance!”

Within five minutes the horizon in all directions was filled with red and blue flashing lights and sirens blaring!

They closed Hwy 400. Well, nobody could get around all the Dodge City Police cars, Ford County Sheriff deputy pickups, the ambulance, fire trucks, tow truck, first responders and one Wildlife and Park Service utility vehicle.

After a thorough questioning, they realized the truth. The upset June told them she thought they were going to handcuff her and leave her in the ditch while they searched her rig for contraband!

One big burly officer laughed and said, “Yeah, but if we’d done that, you could’ve told ’em it took six of us to get the job done, and you put one of us in the hospital!”  end_mark

I wonder if he starts at the head?

I mean, to sculpt a horse that will one day stand in front of the stockyard gate. Or does he picture in his mind the kind of horse it will be? Would he start at the hooves instead, one leg at a time, stroking, flexing, molding, making the limb yield to him until it feels just right?

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