Will’s Steers

     We were jarred awake in the early morning by the noise of men’s voices right outside our bedroom window. Pulling back the blind, we saw them — running and shouting — men, boys, and cattle.

     My husband and I quickly pulled on some available clothes and went out to the front of the house. Our neighbor’s steers had found a weak place in the fence and were loose and wandering. People leapt from their vehicles — which by now were lined along the side of the road as if for a farm auction – to “help out.”

     Cattle are not easily rounded up; they are far more easily “spooked” into frenzy. Helter-skelter, passers-by tried to head off the cattle. Some attempted to round them back toward a pen near the barn. Despite their good intentions, a few excited some of the cows to bolt wildly across the highway, where thankfully, traffic had slowed to a gawking crawl. Unpredictable, confronted, one steer stopped. Face to face  — wild-eyed as a bull in a ring — it reeled, hind legs high, whipped around, then galloped in the opposite direction. North, west, east, and south most scattered, while others ambled lazily toward “home.” Frightened and confused some of the steers ran across the road to the woods. Finally, no cattle could be seen, and the cars and trucks drove away one by one.  But things were far from back to normal.

     Will said most of his steers had been either herded back to the barn or were inside the lot, but several were still missing. Later that day, a neighbor a few fields over penned one up, loaded it in the back of his trailer, and delivered it home. Our lawn was pocked with hoof ruts the rest of the fall, but that was a small matter compared to the loss of four or five steers. Will was concerned about the destruction of his neighbor’s crops, but mostly (according to his wife) he lay awake some nights worrying that someone might be hurt in a car accident caused by one of his rogue steers crossing the road. 

     A few weeks later, a neighbor to our south reported spotting the remaining steers  “hid out” in his woods.  That afternoon, we saw Will take his red truck back the lane toward the trees. He had someone with him; both had something slung over their shoulders.

     Bang! Bang!  Shots were fired in bursts and pauses.  Bang! Bang!

     He never really talked about it  – we didn’t bring it up. But that Christmas, when we exchanged our traditional neighborly gifts, we gave them a breakfast coffeecake.  They gave us canned beef.

By Donna Rice

Published by on May 2012. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Poet's Corner dept, Storybook Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Will’s Steers”

  1. Joe of Western Colorado

    I read this story with much intense and I suspect it was because of the written delivery style used by Donna Rice. Although, I found the read very even to the end, I still got the ‘LOL bang’ I wanted as well as many smiling minutes. Yes, I would say this writing was pure entertainment for me and I should remember it when I am on the range.

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