There seems to be an unwritten rule around our place that in order to load cattle there must be a row of troughs down the middle of the pen, and the pen must be muddy; at least ankle deep. A few years ago the wise man scheduled a shipping date for some rangy steers that had been out on rye-grass for the past 4 months. If you have spent any time at all around cattle that have been on green grass as a primary diet, you know not to get within 10 feet of their rear end or you could become a poster child for all natural green fertilizer…if you know what I mean. And buddy they have a good aim! In this particular group of calves, there were about 60 head. We were trying to move them from the large catch pen (the one with the troughs) into the smaller loading pen to be able to get them into the trailer. It looked something like this: 60 excited steers, a long row of troughs, Wise Man on one side of the troughs, and me on the other.
When you start to move cattle into a smaller pen, they usually go pretty well the first time. The idea is to be quick and efficient. Get them where you want them, and close the gate fast. Simple, right? Well, this particular day just happened to fall just as The Wise Man was coming off of a diet. He’d been on the diet for a few months, and I don’t think he realized just how much weight he had lost. Knowing that the steers would be excited and taking a squirt at us every now and then, we always wear old clothes. Evidently this pair of jeans that Wise Man had on were some of his pre-diet big boy jeans. As we start to move the calves down both sides, the front calves had found the hole and were starting to string into the loading pen. Everything was going well until a few steers circled by, missed the hole, and started to come back toward us. No problem, this happens sometimes. Just hold your position on your side of the troughs moving quickly from side to side so they don’t get by you, and turn them back toward the gate. They came on my side first, and I was able to move around quickly enough to turn ’em back. Next they came on Wise Man’s side, and then on both sides at once. I was holding my own and turning them back when out of the corner of my eye I noticed steers running by on Wise Man’s side, and we lost the whole bunch. Even the ones who had found the gate into the smaller pen had run back out and were coming past on his side. As the last few steers were running past him, I noticed that he was just standing there. He didn’t even throw his hands up. It was kind of like he was just waiting on them to all get by. That’s when my eyes were drawn to this bright white object, sort of like a flag of surrender. Then I realized it was his underwear. Yep, there he was in the middle of the muddy lot with his pants down around his ankles. I just looked on with amazement, and lots of thoughts ran through my mind… I heard myself say, “What are you trying to do, flash them?!”. He quickly grabbed his pants and got them back up around his waist, but this time he kept one hand on his pants to hold them up. As we started the calves, (now a bit wary as to where they are supposed to go) Wise Man is hazing them by holding out his left hand then quickly bringing it to his pants so he can free up his right hand . It took a long time time to get the cattle in that day, and since then we have added a new rule. Don’t forget your belt!