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ON THE EDGE OF COMMON SENSE

Finding the right tool for the job

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Some might wonder why prehistoric cave drawings weren’t more detailed. Surely, there were artists capable of rendering intricate representations of the circulatory system of aurochs or the dentition of a saber tooth tiger drawn to scale.

But what we see on these cave walls are stick figure men chasing antelope shaped quadrupeds, reminiscent of Dick and Jane throwing a bone at Spot. Rather primitive at best.

I think there had to be a Neanderthal equivalent of Norman Rockwell, but he was born without a pencil sharpener, a pencil, or even a Big Chief pad. He didn’t have the right tools for the job.

How many times have you screwed up a perfectly good latigo, bridle, spur strap or belt for want of a hole punch? Have you ever knocked the corners off a hex head nut tryin’ to take it off with a pair of pump pliers?

How ’bout wirin’ a couple of old board panels across a broken hole in the pen thinkin’, “This will only have to hold ’em till the trucker comes at noon.”

Have you ever fallen prey to the temptation to rope a turn back steer when yer ridin’ a 3-year old trainee? Do you recall using baler twine to repair some temporary break-down, hopin’ it will hold until the welder comes?

In Iowa, you can buy a handy little tool made from bent PCV pipe affectionately called a chicken catcher. It’s like a sheep crook and is commonly used to grab baby calves.

      

Doug had cornered one of his calves in the barn lot to treat him for pinkeye last June. While a group of his itinerant coffee shop companions watched, Doug attempted several lasso’s at the streaking 250-pounder. Finally the peanut gallery climbed the fence to help. They stepped carefully around the rain puddles and shooshed and waved as the calf ducked and dived between them.

Randy spotted the chicken catcher layin’ with the baby balling gun and empty box of scour pills. “Maybe I can snag him with this,” he laughed, pickin’ up the chicken catcher. “I’ll catch the calf, then you guys come and help.” It was an even match. Randy weighed about the same as the calf. He shot the hooked implement out and snagged the adrenaline charged calf above the fetlock of the hind leg.

He was jerked off his feet, but hung on as the calf jerked, rattled, kicked and ran, slingin’ mud and cow droplets across Randy’s broad front. Randy went down, but hung on as the calf drug him around the pen. His teeth were clacking like a bad valve job when the crew, weak from laughter dropped a rope over the calf.

Randy looked like the floor of a stock trailer. “You reckon,” he asked, “they make one in a bigger size?”          

Baxter Black