You can’t extinguish a stack of burning hay

By Baxter Black: PNT columnist

Jessie Winchester wrote a song called “Mississippi on my Mind.” It contained the line, “Where the dogs are hungry all the time.” The same can be said about team-roping steers. They’re bred to stay thin and rarely are they overfed.
Shannon had a little arena and always kept a handful of flaco corrientes (svelte bovidae). He asked Byron to find him some cheap hay and offered to let him use his homemade flatbed fenderless trailer. In a couple of days, Byron located a stack of Hi Gear that had been baled during the Clinton administration and put up wet. He got it for a dollar a bale. He managed to get 60 bales on the old stout trailer and started for Shannon’s.
Just a few miles down the road Byron began to smell smoke. He scanned the passing farms. It wasn’t the right time of year for Mesilla Valley farmers to be burning ditches. The answer appeared in his rear-view mirror.
The bales were stacked on top of the tandem axle tires. Friction was busy igniting the hay!
Byron panicked and called Shannon on his cell phone. The answering machine picked up. It was a raspy but enthusiastic voice advising any interested caller that Shannon’s Arena & Livestock Exchange had ropings three days a week, boarded horses, did excavation, hoof trimming, horse chiropractory and drywall. Please call back or leave a message, adios y’all … beep.
“Shannon! It’s Byron! The trailer’s smoking! Call me!”
Cars were whizzing by honking and pointing. Flickers of fire could be seen, fanned by the head wind.
Punch, punch, punch … seven times. “You have reached Shannon’s Arena and Livestock Exchange. Team roping every Tuesday, Wednesday … etc.”
“Shannon! The hay’s on fire! Call me!”
Byron swerved his pyrotechnic hay wagon into a gravel clearing. He mashed on the brakes and three flaming bales toppled off the right side in front of the “Land of Enchantment Nursing Home!”
Punch, punch … seven times.
“You have reached … etc.”
“Shannon! We’re cooked! Call me!”
Well, between the nursing home garden hose and the local fire department, Shannon’s hay and trailer tires were soon soaked and out of danger. Byron proceeded on and parked the rig in Shannon’s arena.
As everyone knows, it is impossible to extinguish a stack of burning hay. Two days later, it was warm to the touch. Every time a bale was pulled off it would hit the oxygen and flame up. Shannon finally scattered the mess as best he could and turned 30 hungry roping steers onto it. They ate it with relish. Byron said it was no wonder, “It’s not everyday they get a hot meal!”

Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: