By Baxter Black: PNT columnist
When I say Alvin was a cowboy, I mean in the most basic sense. With a horse and a rope, a box of matches and a cinch ring, a pocket knife and a piggin’ string, he could do the job.
Dick ran cows on some pretty rough country in southern Arizona. Every year he’d gather his herd off the Galliuros. Every year he’d miss some.
So after shipping in the fall he and Alvin would ride back to the mountains to gather cutbacks, strays and wild cattle. Up on a high ridge they spotted a rangy black bull they’d missed last year as well. He was a renegade.
The two men traversed the canyon and started up the ridge. The ground was rocky, festooned with ocotillo, prickly pear, cat claw, greasewood, bunch grass, evergreens and scrubby cedar. The desert horses picked their way along. Alvin navigated past a 20-foot dropoff. Once he successfully made the crossing he looked back to see that Dick had dropped behind. Alvin rode on till he reached a tree-covered plateau where the bull waited. While allowing his horse to blow he shook out his rope, dropped the knot over the horn and ran a piggin’ string through his belt.
It takes a good horse to do what he had planned, and Alvin was well mounted. They eased into a slow walk at an angle to the bull who watched them warily. The plan was to get as close as he could before the bull spooked. It didn’t take long. The bull broke for the high country and Alvin kicked into high gear.
It is a sweet pleasure to ride a good horse with the skill, heart and nimbleness to chase wild cattle. In less than 60 seconds Alvin had roped the steer, thrown his trip, knocked the bull down, jumped off and hog-tied him.
As the critter lay there Alvin built a small fire out of dead sticks, threw in his cinch ring-runnin’ iron and whittled a couple of handles.
Next came the ear mark, castration and hand-drawn brand. Satisfied he released the beast.
Later back down the mountain Alvin related his accomplishment.
“Yer kiddin’,” said Dick. “You didn’t catch that black bull. You couldn’t have. That’s the same one we’ve missed twice now. I don’t believe it.”
Alvin reached in his pocket and pulled out two cojones, each the size of a Bartlett pear and plopped them in Dick’s lap.
“Here’s yer bull,” he said.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org