November 17, 2015



As I mentioned before, I do use social media. I enjoy keeping up with a lot of people on Facebook. I can see my kin barrel racing, or just riding horse. I can follow the Tooke bucking horses and I can read rodeo stories posted by former champion (and still a champion to me) Larry Mahan. I can see who is celebrating a birthday and who is sitting on a beach in Mexico while I am getting ready to feed cattle when it is 25 below with a brisk wind. Oh, there are some people that upset me, but unlike real life, you just unfriend them so you don’t have to start your day with a bad taste in your mouth. The news is usually enough to give me that.
But this morning a friend posted a video of Ken Curtis singing “Tumbling Tumbleweed.” It brought a smile to my face and I just had to share it. I’d forgotten how talented that man was.
Now, I suppose a vast majority of the people don’t know who Ken Curtis was. Because they just don’t make good TV shows anymore. But he was Festus on “Gunsmoke.” He was an old broke-down cowboy with a hitch in his git-along. He rode a mule and drank beer. And he always was arguing with “Doc.”
In one of my favorite scenes, Festus is going to buy a beer. And Doc is explaining to him that he should save some money and buy a lot. Festus asks, “A lot of what?” And Doc explains a “lot of land.” Well Festus doesn’t have enough money to buy a lot of land, so Doc says, “Just buy a little lot.”
I won’t go into detail, but he ends up just buying a beer.
Which reminds me of how sometimes what you say and what you mean are entirely two different things.
Like sorting cows down an alley. Sometimes it is simple. In or by. In or out. Keep or sell. Steer or heifer. Open or bred. It’s kind of like plans drawn on a bar napkin. It looks good on paper but in reality it’s not that good. Because often more than one will get by you. And it’s “In with the brockle and by with the short-tailed cow.” Or, “Catch the middle cow and let the others by!” Shirley loves that one.
And as I was listening to Festus sing, I thought of one time many years ago. The semi was backed up against the loading chute and had kind of froze down. The brakes on the trailer wouldn’t release and being a genius, I figured I would just have Shirley hook onto it with the pickup and give it a swift jerk to free things up. I know, I know, it wasn’t a good idea.
I backed that pickup, loaded with a couple ton of cow cake, up against that truck and hooked a towrope on. I advised my able assistant that when I gave her the signal, she was going to have to hit it “pretty hard.” Now “pretty hard” and “signal” are the key words here.
I had just stepped up on the side of the truck and was opening the door and I hollered at the dog to get back. Shirley thought that was the signal and she popped the clutch and “hit it hard!” And I mean hard. Really hard. That big old towrope stretched until it was the size of a rubber band. I was, like in grade school, “ducking and covering.” But thank God the rope held, the truck held, and everyone ended up safe and sound.
And to tell the truth, I have no idea what this has to do with Festus.