Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: DULL (05/12/17)
TITLE: The Branding
By Tonya Stevenson
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A tall man in his early forties strides purposely up to a weathered gentleman before he dismounts his horse. “Good Morning Bud. You rope first.”
“I’ll take a raincheck on that, Lance. I’d like to break my nephew in wrestling.” Bud motions toward the six-foot- plus Andy.
“He looks like a capable young buck; I’d do that for you Bud.”
Western courtesy says the neighbor’s rope first, and you show respect to the aged by not making them wrestle.
“I appreciate it Lance, but I figure when a man brings a greenhorn to the branding he ought to take the bruising of breaking him in.”
The generator growls to life, competing with the bawling of the cattle. The roper’s loops snake around the calves hind feet or necks. The ropers turn their horses and drag a steady stream of calves to wrestlers, who quickly flip the calves on their side and hold them for vaccinations, ear-tags, a brand, and the cutting of the bulls.
Everyone knows their job and rapidly weave through the medley of horses, calves, men and ropes to complete it, youngsters with oyster-buckets and marking pens follow the cutters and vaccinators, those with electric branding irons, and a medley of wrestlers - both male and female.
With Bud’s instruction the athletic Andy quickly picks up the routine though relying on his strength, seeming bored by the details.
A big calf is drug in by a singled-foot, the ropes high on a hock (difficult to throw). Buds got the rope, Andy the tail.
“Watch the timing Andy,” Bud coaches for the twentieth time. Bud jerks the rope toward himself, but Andy is late; instead of flipping the calf he nearly pulls Bud on his face. Two more unsuccessful tries leaves the pair in the middle of the crowd with the roper running out of room to drag the calf.
“Andy … timing. Now! They flip the calf easily. Andy steps forward catching the flying front foot and pinning the calf’s head down with his knee.
Bud slides down, pushing the calf’s hind left foot forward with his boot while holding the right leg firmly stretched back with one hand while he slides the rope off the calves hoof.
“A little technique is worth more than a lot of muscle, son.”
“Sorry uncle.” Andy grins sheepishly.
Andy holds the fighting calf effortlessly through branding, cutting, and shots then suddenly let go.
“Wait, he’s not tagged!” Bud shouts. The calf kicks one hind leg loose smacking Bud in the face. Andy bails on the escaping calf and Lance - with one hand on a hot iron - helps to wrestle the calf back down for his ear-tag.
“Now, we’re done.” Andy walks away.
“Sometimes too much confidence in one’s flesh tends to makes us dull of hearing.” Lance says. Bud nods rubbing his jaw.
A big calf comes in bucking and bawling by the neck. Andy runs in with a confident stride grabbing the rope at the neck.
“Remember to block him, Andy.” Bud instructs as he rushes pass to grab the back leg. Andy grabs the calf’s flank - neglecting the shoulder. The calf lurches forward slamming Andy face down into the dirt. The calf now windmills on the rope toward a pair of wrestlers on the ground holding a calf. Bud is behind on the wrong side.
A young woman runs between the calf and the wrestlers grabbing the rope, blocks the calf, as she lifts the flank and slaps the calf to the ground. Grabbing the front leg, she drops her left knee on the neck while sprawling her right knee in the flank for protection from the kicking hind-legs. Bud darts in getting control of the back legs.
“Good job Cassie, ya saved the day.” Bud says. As they roll the calf over to the opposite side.
“Ah, I just got lucky.” Cassie grins.
A dirty shame-face Andy stands by eyeing the slender girl for a moment before another larger calf comes in by the head. Andy runs to the calf with and exaggerated block grabs the flank and lifts the calf easily into the air as Eric (Cassie’s brother) slides in snatching the hind leg and the three drop simultaneously to the ground.
Bud gives Andy the thumbs up and winks at Cassie. “He couldn’t hear my words but you painted him a clear picture.”
“Tis wondrous what a little humility does for dull hearing. “ Lance adds.
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