BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Post by Soapweed » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:36 pm

By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

The year was 1980, and the day was November 8th. It was my 29th birthday. Carol and I were ranching on our first “Spearhead Ranch,” which was located 20 miles south of Merriman, Nebraska. My folks ranched eight miles northeast of Merriman, and Dad needed help that day, to move cattle about seven miles. He had summered about 150 pairs on Lloyd Morton’s south pasture, which is a couple miles south of Highway 20, south of Tom Schlack’s ranch buildings. The cows and calves had been trailed back to my folks’ home ranch to wean, but the cows were done bawling by a few days, and Dad wished to take them back to where they had spent the summer on Mortons’ pasture to finish grazing left over grass. This is where I would come in handy. Evidently others who would normally help had the weekend off, so he desired to have me assist in moving the cattle.

Dad told me on the phone, “Just bring your saddle. I have a horse freshly back from a horse-breaker, and he could use some miles.” I complied. The horse was a nice looking speckled sorrel with four stocking legs and a blaze face. At the time, Roger Daum was living in Cody, breaking horses and doing day work. He was a good Christian man, and led a weekly Bible study at area homes. These were always worth attending, and a person learned a lot. In those days, hugging and touchy-feely stuff was starting to become fashionable, as I don’t recall it being quite so much in vogue prior to that. Roger’s wife was an attractive lady, and I recall at one of these Bible studies, my Uncle Stan asked Roger, “What would you do if someone gave your wife a holy kiss?” Roger responded, “I’d probably have to give him a holy punch in the mouth.” This conversation kind of tickled me at the time, and it still does.

Back to the horse that Roger broke, I think Roger may have owned it and sold it to Dad. The horse was born at Hub McMurtrey’s ranch, and was probably half Quarter Horse and half Tennessee Walking Horse. Hub liked that cross, because they were long on endurance and could go all day. They were also full of vim and vigor, and could test a rider’s abilities.

On the day Dad and I were going to move the cattle, I caught and saddled the new horse, untracked him, led him around the corral a little, and then got on. I rode him around the corral, and he seemed to do just fine. After dismounting to lead him through the corral gate, I once again mounted up, and he proceeded to bog his head and really go to bucking. Dad was on his horse, and he hollered, “Hang on! You’re doing great! You can ride him!” With renewed fortitude and wanting to prove my pappy’s assessment true, I hung on for dear life. The horse made a vigorous circumference of a rather large calving lot, and I was doing my best to hang tight. After nearly completing the circle, the sorrel managed to unceremoniously dislodge me right in front of Dad’s sale-barn, where just a week and a half previous, Dad’s annual Green Valley Country Music Hereford Bull Sale had been held. The 300 people that attended had milled about right in front of the barn, and had packed the dirt there to be just about as hard as cement. That is right where I lit.

The wind was knocked out of me, and it took me a few moments to regain my senses. Dad rode up and asked, “Are you hurt?” “I don’t think so,” I muttered. He caught my horse and led it back to me. The horse was about as tuckered out as I was, and he didn’t give any trouble as I got back on. Dad asked, “Will you still be able to help?” “Yeah,” I muttered, nodding in the affirmative, and we embarked with our herd.

The longer we rode, the more I was noticing some extra pain. I did alright if the horse was walking, and even trotting didn’t hurt too badly. However, if the horse broke into a lope, the needle of the hurt-o-meter would nearly top out. We trailed the cows straight east until we went by the old Melloncamp tree grove and swamp, and then angled southeast for a few more miles. We crossed the highway about eight miles east of Merriman, and went another couple miles south to Morton’s south pasture. Since the cows had summered there and knew the country, we didn’t have to drive them on to water.

No arrangements had been made for a pickup and trailer, with driver, to be on hand to pick us up. It was another seven mile ride back to Dad’s place. Darkness would soon be upon us, and we were in somewhat of a hurry, as my Grandma Grace (Dad’s mother) had planned to fix supper for us at her home in Merriman in celebration of my 29th birthday. Besides our family, Dad’s brother Stan and his wife Joy Lu would also attend. We hit a lope headed for home, and with each up and down motion, the pain was getting to me. I persuaded dear old Dad to be content with just a ground covering long trot instead. As we neared Highway 20, I came up with a grandiose idea. I told Dad, “How about when we get to the highway, I hitch-hike into town, and you can lead my horse home. I’ll meet you at Grandma Grace’s for supper.” He thought that was a good plan.

At the blacktop, we sat on our horses until a car came along. I flagged down the driver and explained my dilemma. With 38-and-a-half years’ worth of water flowing down the creek since then, I don’t remember who gave me a ride. I do remember it was a kindly gentleman who delivered me right to my grandmother’s door.

We had a nice supper, and the birthday cake tasted superb. Carol and I journeyed the 20 miles south to our ranch. The next day was Sunday, and I was hurting. On Monday morning, I called the clinic in Gordon and made a doctor’s appointment. While getting ready to go to Gordon, Carol had occasion to move our automatic clothes washing machine away from the wall in our trailer house. She was either trying to catch a wayward sand lizard or retrieving a sock that had fallen behind, but whatever the reason, as she pulled the appliance away from the wall, she threw her back out of whack.

We had been having occasional chiropractic appointments in Valentine, so with this new development, we changed our plans. I told Carol that the chiropractor could x-ray my torso just as well as a medical doctor, so let’s just go to Valentine. I cancelled the Gordon appointment, and we traveled east instead.

After arriving in Valentine, Carol was seen first. The chiropractor x-rayed her, and said it looked serious enough that he didn’t think he should give her a treatment. He didn’t, but time eventually seemed to cure her back problem. He then examined me. When I suggested an x-ray might be in order, he declared that it would be unnecessary, and that a treatment would fix me right up. This he did, and if you think that didn’t hurt, you are wrong. His punching, pulling, and prodding about did me in, but I bravely tried not to give any indication of being in severe pain. We went back home, hoping tomorrow would be better.

Tomorrow came, and the pain was still present. I made another appointment at the Gordon Clinic. The doctor x-rayed and declared that indeed there were three broken ribs. He prescribed some pain pills and a wide support belt, with Velcro fasteners. The belt felt good when it was in place, but when taking it off for showers, my torso felt like it would disintegrate. As a few more days went by, a severe cough developed. With each cough, it felt like my ribs would explode. A week later, in going to see the doctor again, I explained, “Having broken ribs and a bad cold, I can put up with one or the other but not both.” This time he gave me some high-powered cough syrup with Codeine, and it helped the cough immensely. I did survive, and as the saying goes, “Time heals all wounds.” It was a birthday bust to remember.

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Re: BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:00 pm

Thanks for the story, those ribs are as painful as it can be.
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Re: BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Post by Traveler » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:51 am

Thanks. No chance I'll write something autobiographical. Can't even remember what happened two weeks ago.

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Re: BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Post by redrobin » Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:55 am

I am cursed with the same affliction travler.

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Re: BIRTHDAY BUST By Steve Moreland, April 20, 2019

Post by WB » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:18 am

Soapweed, your story makes me hurt just reading it.

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