A Cow, a Constable and a Wedding



By Robert Shuford 
My buddy, Dale Felps,  to his eternal regret I’m sure, got me some work with Jake Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey had a grandson, Jay, and I became friends with him as well. 

Jay was still in high school then and when I went back to West Texas I sorta lost track of him. When I came back and started day working around with Dale. Jay had already been to college and back, working and putting a herd together. Dale and I would go to help Jay anytime we cold just to help a young man in the cattle business, Besides, Jay would buy us beer, He soon found out it was cheaper to pay us than beer us.
Jay had a place over by Batesville he was vacating. He needed to build a new fence (and probably was going to rest it for awhile), and had one old cow that just wouldn’t cooperate and come on in, He messed with her and messed with her, then finally decided he was just gonna have to rope her. 
So he called ol’Dale and we weren’t doing anything special so we went over with Jay one morning to catch his cow. He kept saying she was gentle and so on, so we didn’t take any dogs. Well, we got there and sure enough that ol’cow’s standing out there in the open. But when we started unloading horses, she disappeared.
It had been a few years, but Dale and I had both worked this place before for Mr. Jake and were familiar with it. It was around 1,800 acres with 5,000 acres of thicket in it. Other than a few oat patches, it was brushy as all get out. Old native growth mesquite, white brush, retamas-it had it all. 
Well, we hunted that ol’sister, jumped her a time or two and finally gave it up as a bad job when it got too hot. On the way back to town, we made plans to come back with dogs and change her tune. 
Kelley Thigpen is the grandson of Frank Helvey, and they had the sale barn at Pearsall and we kept horses and dogs out there. Also, Kelley had gone to college with Jay and knew him. (They both Aggies, but don’t act like it so they are pleasant to be around.) So we roped Kelley into going with us. He never has been against a good cow-catching and didn’t take much convincing. Only thing he had was a wedding to go to that evening, but Jay was going to the same one, so no one could see any problem. 
Due to one thing or another , we got a kinda late start, but since it wasn’t as hot as it had been it didn’t really matter except for time to leave for the wedding. 
We had loaded five or six dogs to take with us, with plans to turn a couple loose and swap out as needed. Also, several of them would catch an animal and we were holding them in reserve, if needed.
We finally got to the ranch and unloaded about in the middle of the place. We hoped to strike that old cow and work her out close to the trailer to catch her. It was too brushy to drive in anywhere to load her (without tearing something up) and we had Jay’s 32-foot Gooseneck so we were kinda limited to where we could go.
We turned two dogs out and went to hunting. I don’t know where that darn cow was, but we circled about twice and never did catch a scent. But we did find out the farmer next door had released a bunch of irrigation water and one of the creeks and tank that had been dry was flooded, Plumb boggy as a matter of fact. We got back to the trailer, set a fresh set of dogs loose and started out again.
That place’s outside fence fronted on a Farm-to-Market Road in a long curve and Kelley and I ended up close to it while trying to get around the tank or across the creek – either/or -didn’t matter to us. We finally get to dry land when we hear a dog sound off. We set sail as fast as we could and Kelley peeled off to one side and me to the other, He must have heard or seen somebody over there because I heard him holler. “Turn the other dogs loose.” He and I were working our way to the noise when we heard the other dogs join in. Then they changed direction and headed toward the fence. That thicket we were in was a bad son-of-a-gun and I wanted to get over and cut that cow off before she got to the fence. Too late. About the time I got over I heard fence stretching and breaking, then saw that sister headed across the highway. Right where she broke through there was a split in the road. One goes on to Big Wells and the other to Dilley.
I bounced off my horse and pulled my wire pliers out and went to cutting the rest of the fence so’s we could get through. (Kelley, Dale and I all carried wire pliers on our saddles. I think they used to hang some folks for that,  but we thought it’d been a few years.) Kelley came up as I pulled back the last stand and he went blowing through and across the road. That danged cow had gone all the way across both Farm-to-Market Roads of course, and a car darn near got Kelley whilst he was going to her. I hollered back at somebody to go get the trailer as I figured we had her caught now that she was out on the highway. I followed across the split and went tearing down the bar ditch.  You could hear the dogs working on her. 
I figured Kelley had her roped by now, but when I came around the corner I could see him off his horse cutting fence.  By the time I got there he had a hole and I could blow on after her. She was in a white brush thicket, the dogs had a pretty good hold on her and I threw – and flat missed. Luckily Kelley rode up and chunked a loop on her before she started off again. Neither one of us knew whose place this was and while cutting Jay’s fence was one thing, lopping holes across the country didn’t appeal to either of us, even in hot pursuit.
Dale rode up then and pointed the way out. (It’s easy to get turned around like that.) Kelley was riding a big ol’horse he called Bruno and dallied up and went to skipping her out. That ol’cow probably weighed 1,000 pounds but ol’Bruno just went with her. It wasn’t as far as we thought to the fence and when Kelley got out in the bar ditch, he laid her over and Dale got off and tied her (correctly). Kelley and I were shaking our saddles out while Dale told us Jay was coming with the trailer. Just as Jay had backed up to the cow, a constable’s car pulled up. The constable got out and said, “I got a report of a pack of wild dogs attacking a cow on this highway. Ya’ll know anything about it?”
I mean there we are with a cow tied in the bar ditch, dogs laying around and three men horseback, What the heck was he thinking? My smart mouth, before I could stop it, said, “Well, we did,” as in know something about it. Jay stepped in an went to explaining and it turned out the fence Kelley cut belonged to Jay also. So there’s no problem there. That constable finally decided there wasn’t anything illegal going on (reluctantly, it seemed to me) and finally went on. 
We loaded our cow, horses and dogs and broke into the medicine chest for a little nerve tonic. About that time, a buddy of Jay’s and Kelley’s drove up with another medicine chest headed to the same wedding. Before you know it, all three of them are late. But it wasn’t that ol’gentle cow’s fault

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