That’s What I Get For Answering The Phone

by Jake Hershey on March 17, 2013


I woke up to a phone call early on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago.  It was my neighbor, an old cowboy who’s been dayworking for ranches in this area for a bunch of years.  He was headed to go help gather, pen, sort and work about 50 pairs.  The owner of the cattle had just called him and said that one of his hired men wasn’t going to be able to make it.  He wanted to know if my neighbor had my phone number and if he thought I’d be available to help.  Nothing like short notice, huh?  I told my neighbor I’d come help and asked when they were gonna start.  He said he’d pick me up in 20 minutes.  Nothing like REAL short notice, huh? 

I jumped up, brushed my teeth and got dressed just as my neighbor pulled in the driveway.  He said that according to the ranch owner, this bunch of cattle shouldn’t be too awful tough to get worked.  They were all pretty gentle and should pen easy.  We pulled up to the working pens where we were to meet up with the owner.  As we topped a little ridge we saw that the owner and his hired hands had already started gathering the cattle.  Matter of fact, they were getting awful close to the pens, so we decided to hang back out of the way in hopes that everything would pen real easy.  It didn’t.  About the time all of the cattle got about three fourths of the way down a narrowing wing that led to a holding pen they started to figure out what was goin’ on and decided they didn’t want any part of it.  My neighbor and I bailed off down there and to make a long story short, we got everything that they had gathered penned….except for 2 mama cows. 

Although the 2 heathen cows had gotten past us, they were still caught…kind of.  They could only go as far as the fence line in a little 10 acre or so trap.  This trap had a big ol’ pond in the middle of it.  The cattle owner wasn’t a cowboy, but a cattleman.  This meant that he preferred to gather wild cows in his 1 ton Dodge Ram 3500 dually pickup.  He took off chasing both cows and again, to shorten this story up, let’s just say that the two cows ended up on different sides of the pond.  The cattle owner was running one down in his pickup while the other one was headed back where we needed her to.  I hadn’t had a chance to introduce myself to the 3 hired hands of Mexican descent that the cattle owner had picked up that morning.  But, I started hollering at them to get out of the way so the one cow would keep heading in the right direction.  Turns out, 2 of them didn’t speak any English and one barely could.  But, they understood sign language and managed to get out of the way.  Unfortunately, the cow they had made room for decided she still didn’t want to be penned and turned back around.  I was on top of a hill, headed for the other cow, when out of the corner of my eye this is what I saw. 

The cow that had decided she still didn’t want to be penned turned around and came running back towards the friendly Hispanic gentlemen as fast as she could.  My neighbor was coming towards them and yelling something I couldn’t quite make understand….it could have been Spanish….or German…possibly Portuguese.  All I know is that he was serious about what he was saying to the Hispanic help..who didn’t speak English.  They decided that he was telling them to jump in front of the mad mama cow and stop her from running.  So that’s what they did.  It didn’t work.  She darted past the first two guys like Emmit Smith in the Super Bowl.  She hit the third guy like…well…you know what it’s like when you’re driving 70 mph and a bug hits your windshield?  That guy was the bug, she was the windshield.  I guess you could at least give him the credit of being a really big bug, because after the initial impact our fearless friend hit the ground like a sack of taters, but as she ran over him she stumbled to her knees.  By that time my neighbor was close enough to jump on her and try to hold her down.  That’s what he did.  I came up on 1 hired man down, 2 standing there wondering what to do (because they didn’t speak English and had little experience with cattle) and my neighbor laying on this mad mama cow..trying to keep her down.  I yelled at the hired men to “Get on her head!”, which they did not do-partially out of fear, partially out of lack of understanding what to do in such a situation and mostly because they couldn’t understand a word I was saying.  So, I jumped on her head and grabbed aholt of her nose.  I coaxed one of the Hispanic gentleman over to me and showed him with sign language that I needed him to hold her down like I was.  My neighbor and the hired hands held her down while I stuck a rope on her.  We got her stretched out, tied her feet and waited on the cattle owner to show up. 

My neighbor and I had been on the place a total of about 15 minutes and I had been awake about an hour.  It was a heck of a way to start the day.  A few hours later and after we had finished the day’s work, the cattle owner turned to my neighbor and I and said, “I sure am glad you guys were here today.”  My neighbor then looked at me and said, “I sure am glad you answered the phone this morning.”  I looked at them both and said, “Glad I could help.”

But what I was really thinking was a combination of, “That’s what I get for answering the phone!” and “Talk about short notice!” and “I’ll bet you both are glad you sorry suckers!”

That last one isn’t true…I had fun, made a little money and the cattle owner asked me if I’d be interested in helping work the rest of his cows (which are many) along with some good cowboys I know who regularly hire out to help him with Spring works.  So, it all worked out. 

Isn’t it funny how just like the ranch owner, we sometimes think a situation will be uneventful and then all of a sudden it blows up in our face?  At times like that in our life, it’s important to be surrounded by the type of people who can help you out of that situation.  Just like those friendly and well meaning Hispanic gentleman, we often have people around us who are well meaning but really aren’t equipped to give us the type of help we need.  I used to have lots of buddies whose solution to every unforeseen “blow up” in life was to get drunk, get wild and deal with it later.  Consequently, that used to be my solution too.  But after I started to intentionally surround myself with devoted Christians, I began to realize that the solution to every “blow up” in life is found in God’s word (the Bible) and His perfect timing.  I thank God for his word and the people He’s put in my life, both of whom show me how to jump on the mad mama cows of life, hold them down and tie them up.  I’m still learning and as long as you are too, that’s all God asks of you.  I’ve been on both sides of the situation….the one getting run over and the one taking care of business.  I guarantee it’s a heck of a lot more enjoyable to deal with a situation like God intended than to be laying on the ground bloody, sore and sometimes covered in cow crap.  God doesn’t expect us to have the answer to every situation we’re faced with.  But He does give us the Bible and people in our lives to show us the way.  Take full advantage of both of them and you’ll find yourself under a lot less mad mama cows in life.

“If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”  1 Peter 4:11


Jake Hershey 3/17/13

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  • Pam

    This is all WAY too familiar! Yep, I definitely hang back if I show up late to the round-up. Even if it’s not my fault that the cattle turn and high-tail it out of there at the last minute, somehow it becomes my fault if I rush up to the gate in a truck or car! lol

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