Monday, September 22, 2014

Barnyard Tales Chapter 9: Bull Ramping

It isn’t every day that your family invents a new sport. In my family it was only once: on a fateful Mother’s day in the 90’s.

I remember it well. We were waiting to go to my grandma’s house. Mom was pissed that dad had taken the four wheeler to go bring down a few bull calves that had broken out and into general pop. I was overly eager. Grandma Dot’s place was my FAVORITE place in the whole wide world, and for some reason my seven or eight year old mind had decided that not only were we going to grandma’s house, since we had time to kill we were gonna go in style.

Screw the fact that I didn’t know how to ride yet. I worked for over an hour lugging a saddle out of the barn only to lose interest in cleaning and oiling it after, oh, about ten seconds. I remember leaving it hanging haphazardly across an old feeder and trotting up to my dad when I saw him slowly walking back to the house. I should have realized something was wrong at that point, but no. I had a one track mind. Grandma’s? Can we go now? How about now? Why aren’t you running to the car? We need to leave, NOW! I left the saddle. It got rained on. Mom was, uhm, displeased.
Dad meanwhile had stumbled up to the porch and kicked the kitchen door until mom came to let him in the house.

I remember coming in a while later and seeing him with bright silver duct tape wrapped around his shirt in a makeshift splint. He couldn’t talk, but mom thought he’d broke a few ribs. To hear her tell the tale of finding the fourwheeler is a thing of beauty.

She wandered high and low around the pastures. With dad’s injuries she searched gullies, and ditches; assuming like most would have that he had flipped the ATV in a ditch rather than by inventing the most extreme animal sport in the good ole U.S. of A.. Much to her surprise she found the four wheeler sitting on all four wheels on a gently sloping curve of a hill. The only oddity was the occasional tuft of black angus hair sticking to grass and wafting on the breeze.

It took two days for my dad to regain the ability to speak. When he did, a legend was born. Dad had been riding after the calf, chasing him high and low. The young bull had zigged and zagged, bolted through brush and ditch without a care; and still my dad and the four wheeler had been on him like a cocklebur. But there on that gentle swell of a hill, when my father was in high gear because there were no ditches in sight, the calf turned the tables. Well, not so much the tables as he turned himself and lowered his head. Dad couldn’t brake or downshift fast enough. The four wheeler flew right up that cow’s neck and dad flew right off of it. He tried to kick away from the four wheeler, but did not succeed. When he came to he was alone, in pain, and only vaguely aware of the four wheeler idling quietly in the distance. He stood up, hurt enough to sit back down, and decided then and there that sitting back down was a bad idea. I’m pretty sure he crawled most of the way back to the house.

Mom discovered later that he had a perfect 2”x2” square on his side. When he kicked off the four wheeler he went the wrong direction. The four wheeler had a square steel tube for a seeder bolted to the back and the full force of the flying machine centered on that tube as it landed upside down on his ribs and bounced off just as pretty as you do please. 

Clearly he should have got 10 points from the Russian judge for the excellent dismount.

Fun fact: three weeks later he reached for a towel and discovered that his shoulder had been dislocated the entire time. Do NOT try this one at home kiddies. Not only was dad beat up, that poor bull calf went crazy every time he heard an engine. Sheesh. Talk about PTSD.

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