October 07, 2008

Windy Went Riding for a Fall

Windy the Waddie in the poem is actually me, sad to say. It was the summer of 1989. This is the tale of a stampeding herd across Idaho State Highway 20 about a mile south of the Redrock Road. The cattle that day were frisky from the start and then something let loose and it all came undone. As I pieced the fragments of my memory together on this one, I figured that one of the lead animals simply lost it, charged out and the others followed suit. By the time the dust settled and the wrecks cleared I had a dislocated shoulder and smashed up rotator cuff that took over a year to heal. Dad ended up with a cerebral hematoma that nearly killed him. There was a good amount of broken leather as well as barbed wire. But the cattle finally were herded up to the summer ranges on the continental divide - and time mended all wounds - together with a little surgical intervention.

Windy Went Riding for a Fall
by Paul Kern

Buck was a big horse with a matchin’ name,
Dapple grey with long flowing mane,
For the most part broke and fat off the range,
But that look in his eye was a little bit strange.

That herd of cattle one day in July,
Had to be moved somewhere else up high,
Off of the flatland no more could they wait,
Up the divide and beyond the gate.

Windy the waddie bridled up and saddled,
From the first Buck, he was a little bit rattled,
But at the start of things all went well,
The herd moved out with the dust and the smell,

Across the rangeland of buffalo grass,
Toward the highway where we had to pass,
Through the fence and the gate and onto the road,
Then north past the corrals we use to load.

As the cattle made their approach to the fence,
Some started to run and lost their sense,
Of direction when they headed back south,
Their north end should’a been their mouth.

But it wasn’t and they weren’t about to turn,
Around as a herd, ‘till half of ‘em’d learn,
To follow the fence and then go ‘round,
In a bovine carousel complete with the sound,

Of squeals and bawls of an upset herd,
Gettin’ more undone as horses were spurred.
The cowboys galloped on their approach,
To jostle the cattle, to cajole and to coach,

Them back in the direction they all should head,
For a moment it worked and then one saw red,
Takin’ off in a flash for Timbuktu,
But I’m not real sure since we never knew,

Now that steer was more than a little undone,
Along the fence it trotted and then it run,
To a stop, spun ‘round and whirled back north,
Causin’ his buddies to charge back and forth.

They were now on both sides of the fence,
Times like this get real intense,
Some runnin’ north and some to the south,
Buck tensed up and foamed at the mouth,

Reined to the left and then to the right,
Confused him more than just a mite,
What he saw goin’ north then headed out,
The southbound critters turned all about,

Opposite of where he tried to lead,
To stop the prospect of a small stampede,
But Windy the waddie and even old Buck,
Were ridin’ on the wrong side of luck.

Leavin’ the cattle and throwin’ a fit,
While passin’ the gate and the borrow pit,
That lined the road on either side,
The saddle rolled and began to slide.

Iron shod hooves skidded and sparked,
Windy knew that his time was marked,
His heart beat hard as it ever did,
The road flew up as his saddle slid.

He lay there a moment then got to his feet,
Windy the waddie went down in defeat.
Buck ran away bein’ chased by the saddle,
Hangin’ down low - same height as the cattle.

That herd of cattle one day in July,
Had to be moved somewhere else up high,
Off they went with a crash and a bawl,
The day that Windy went ridin’ for a fall.

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