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A short story by Emma Carpenter.

No Place To Park - Page 1 of 3

When we were still rodeoing it wasn’t uncommon for Bill to buy roping calves from his dad after they were too big to rope at the rodeos.

There were usually about 15 or so calves in a set, and if they were all heifers you could have a nice even set of cows when they grew up. Bill usually only bought the ones that were mostly Brahma, and for a long time retired roping calves formed the core of our cow herd.

Author's Note: The Brahma cow shown below was owned by the author and her husband for many years. However, she's not the cow named Spooky Spots featured in this story.

A spotted Brahma cow

The retired Brahma roping calves we had over the years were some of the friendliest cows I’ve ever known. Notice I said friendly, not gentle. As long as they didn’t have a calf on them, they liked eating range cubes right out of your hand, or the sack, or the spout. They would come at a run from any distance as long as they could hear you calling, and follow you anywhere (except into a trap, of course) if you waved an empty feed sack around enough.

Because they had been hauled all over Kansas and Oklahoma as calves, they were also easy to load into a trailer anytime, anywhere, chute or no chute, stock trailer or semi. In fact, they loaded themselves so well that if you didn’t want them in the trailer you better have a gate shut so they couldn’t get to it, or they were going to go around you, over you, or through you to get in.

When a friendly Brahma cow has a calf, she changes. She becomes a big humped, big horned, big eared, slick hided, calf protecting demon that can out jump an elk and outrun a cheetah. She can beat a racehorse to the trees, and make a loop a half-mile long through three creeks and up or down two short cliffs to beat you back to her calf. A Brahma cow has never read the US Bill of Rights to know that human life is sacred, but she does know instinctively that your life isn’t worth as much as one hair anywhere on her calf.

A Brahma cow rarely bluffs, and if she shakes her head at you just once you should consider it your only chance to rethink whatever bright idea you just had about what you were going to do to her baby. If a Brahma cow puts a healthy calf on the ground you can count on that as a calf in the bank, because there’s precious little between heaven and earth that is going to get it from her.

One day, many years after one set of roping heifers had grown into big Brahma cows, we had several of them with some other cows at the house. We were wanting to haul them and their calves to a different pasture, so Bill called them out of the pasture and into small trap leading to some pens. They all called into the trap except for a former roping calf we called Spooky Spots.

This wasn’t surprising, because Spooky Spots had never called into a trap in her life. But her three-month old calf had come in, so Spooky Spots never wandered more than a dozen or so feet from the closed gate. When it became obvious no one was going to open the gate and let her precious calf back out, she let the heifer nurse through the fence that night. Bill walked out the next morning to open the gate to let Spooky Spots in, but she just eyed it with her head held high and didn’t move.

Bill left shortly after that to do some day work, and was gone until late in the afternoon. When he drove in the drive I put some steaks on the grill by the front porch steps. But instead of putting his gray mare, Peaceful, away, he said he was going to ease around Spooky Spots and push her into the trap. I thought that sounded like someone saying they were going to ease up behind a rattle snake and pet it on its head. I sighed, and turned the heat under the steaks way down.

Bill rode into the pasture, followed by our dog, an Australian Shepherd named Crock. Spooky Spots, still standing by the gate to the trap to be by her calf, raised her head and looked right at them. She let Bill take about two steps into the pasture before she tore off at the speed of light, little divots of dirt and grass flying out behind her. There was a steep hill heading out to the pasture, and she raced up it and disappeared out of sight. Bill quietly trotted up the same hill, broke into a lope, and then he disappeared, too.

To my surprise, they weren’t gone all that long. I was sitting on the top step twirling my meat fork for entertainment when I looked over the crest of the hill to see a black cowboy hat coming my way. Even though the hat was all I could see I knew Bill had roped Spooky Spots. The hat was coming my way in short, hard, lunges. Then it would slide back on the horizon a couple of feet, then come forward again, still lunging. Spooky Spots was pulling against that rope and fighting every step of the way.

Suddenly, the hat shot forward two or three running steps, and the front of the brim tipped down hard. There was a pause, then the hat turned around to run off in the direction it had just come. It didn’t take any guessing for me to know that the rope had broke, and the mare had been sent running and stumbling forward a couple of steps when the backwards pull suddenly gave way. Then Bill had turned to chase her a second time. I sighed again, and turned the heat on the grill down a little more.

It seemed like only a minute before I saw the hat returning on the horizon. It was coming the way it had before, lunging forward then sliding back. This time, though, it kept getting closer until I could see Bill’s head and shoulders, then the top of his horse, and then the saddle horn with the rope stretched out straight behind. In a few more seconds I could see all of Bill and his mare, and finally Spooky Spots herself as she was dragged into sight pulling back, throwing her head, and sitting on her haunches.

Continued on page 2......


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About The Author

Emma Carpenter and her husband Bill are the owners of the website. Emma is the administrator of the website, and when not writing articles for other areas of CowboyWay she enjoys writing the occasional short story.

For many years Bill and Emma maintained a small cow/calf herd while also doing day work for area ranchers in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Carpenters are retired from Carpenter Rodeo Company, a family owned rodeo company that put on rodeos in Kansas and Oklahoma for over 40 years. They still own a small cow/calf herd.


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