Cheryl, who manages the office at the body shop in Globe, Arizona, where the Perfect Tow Vehicle recently was fitted with a new door, shares what it is like to live on a cattle ranch. I’m sitting at a desk that faces her desk as she tells this story.
“My husband used to work on a cattle ranch,” Cheryl begins.
“We lived right there on the ranch. The house was part of the deal, besides my husband’s pay. You don’t make much money working on a ranch,” she adds.
“Well, there was this time when my husband had to be away from the ranch . . . .
“I’m sitting in the house having breakfast when these people come along. They tell me, hey, there’s a cow stuck in the mud. Up in the back somewhere. They can’t tell me where the cow is, so I follow them up there. The cow is at one of the ponds in a canyon.
“The people leave and I climb down this ravine to see about the cow.
“Yep, it’s stuck in the mud. Of course, I can’t get a signal for my phone down there. I climb back up and start calling, trying to find someone to come and pull the cow out.
“I don’t know where the ranch hand is. I can’t get him on the phone. Finally I get in touch with this guy we know who just HAPPENS to be in town and he says he’ll pull the cow out. He comes out and I show him where the cow is at — there are three ponds in the canyon so I have to show him where.
While Cheryl talks, she continues to work.
Her eyes flick to the computer monitor between us. She clicks the mouse under her hand. The printer clatters and complains, cranking out a sheet of paper. Cheryl staples the paper to an invoice, gets up, puts it in the proper slot on the wall, and sits down again.
“He drives his truck down the ravine. I don’t know how he does it. I wouldn’t drive our truck down into that canyon! No way! But down he goes somehow . . . . He puts the belts on the cow, hooks up the winch, and pulls the cow out with his truck.
Cheryl is interrupted by one of the guys from the shop poking his head in the door.
“I need a quart of (He fires off a jumble of letters and numbers for a specific shade of paint).”
Cheryl doesn’t write anything down.
She wrinkles her brows and asks, “What color is that? I’ve never heard that one before.”
“Oh, it’s some crazy purple,” the guy replies, before disappearing into the shop.
I listen with amazement as Cheryl picks up the phone, places the call, repeats the jumble of letters and numbers completely from memory, follows it up with an efficient thank you, hangs up, and, without a second’s hesitation, resumes the telling of the cow-in-the-mud story .
“Later that night I’m talking to my husband on the phone.
“I tell him about the cow stuck in the mud.
“‘Did you move the cow away from the pond?’ my husband asks.
“No, we didn’t. Why?”
“‘Well,’ my husband says. ‘The cow obviously wanted water. That’s why it was in the mud, right? It’s still going to want water. If you don’t move the cow away, it’s going to go right back into the mud.’
“The next morning I go up to the canyon and, sure enough, there’s the cow stuck in the mud.
Cheryl leans on her elbows and massages her forehead with both hands as she recalls that moment.
“I climb out of the canyon and call the guy with the truck and the winch. I ask him to come out again and this time to move the cow away from the pond.
Later I’m at work when I call him.
“Did you get the cow out?”
“Yeah, I got it out.”
“Did you move the cow away from the pond?”
“No, I didn’t. Don’t worry. The cow is fine.”
“After work I go up there and there’s the cow stuck in the mud again. This time I have some hay and a bucket with me. I toss the hay to the cow and start hauling water to it in the bucket.
“The next day I’m back with the cow several times, giving it hay and water, trying to keep it alive until I can find someone who can get it out of the mud.
“Finally . . . I get in touch with the ranch hand. He’s a young guy. He comes up to pull the cow out of the mud. Does he bring a truck? No. He comes up there on a HORSE.”
Cheryl rolls her eyes and heaves a sigh.
“He goes to pull the cow out of the mud and the horse falls over and breaks his leg.
“What? The horse broke its leg?” I blurt out with alarm.
Cheryl gives me a deadpan look like I’m the dumbest creature she has ever come across.
“No. The horse didn’t break its leg, ” she says, slowly and carefully, doling out each word. “The horse fell and when it fell, it crushed the GUY’s leg.”
“Oh. When you said the horse fell and broke his leg, I thought you meant the horse,” I trail off sheepishly.
Cheryl picks up the story.
“He — the guy — has to go to ER and all that. So here I am with the ranch hand laid up. He can’t work and I’m hauling hay and water to this cow stuck in the mud.
At last my husband comes back. We go up to the canyon and by this time the cow is in mud up to its shoulders and has to be put down. After I spent three days killing myself trying to keep it alive . . . .”
The door from the shop flies open and a head pops in.
“Cheryl, I need a quart of (a jumble of letters and numbers).”
Without skipping a beat, Cheryl picks up the phone.
NOTE: More photos in the next post!
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