Sometimes the day just starts out in such a way that you know it's going to be uphill all the way. Doesn't matter if you are a cowboy or a white collar worker in a high rise, there are days when you face a challenge at every turn of the clock.
Jess was always ready for a rodeo. However, when it was time for the finer details of leaving the ranch, he began doubling up on a few things so he could take the day off.
Up early and excited at the prospect of some fun, he was first greeted by a flat tire on the horse trailer. That fixed, he went to feed the roping horses.
The skunk that sometimes visited the barn had apparently had a run in with his cowdog and the encounter provided some exotic atmosphere in the tack room. Determined, he decided a saddle that had a little smell to it wouldn't stop him from catching his calf at the rodeo.
Of the "take pride in your ride" philosophy, Jess brushed his trusty rope horse Flint, braided the part of his mane that could get caught in the rope and deemed him ready for the public. Horse loaded, he headed out through the pasture and down the 11 miles of dirt road that would take him to the highway leading to town.
When he got to the first pasture, the cattle that seemed to live in the middle of the road full time were, as expected, in their usual places. He looked them over as they slowly gave way to the truck and trailer and let him pass.
Then he spotted the cow with the tight bag. Her calf was standing as close as she would let him with his nose full of porcupine quills. That was a Murphy thing, and while not life threatening yet, had to be taken care of pronto.
Flint had long since become too important for pasture work at least in his mind, and usually in Jess's. He was the fast-time rodeo-roping star. He was noticeably quite offended when he was unloaded and the cinches pulled up. After all, he was washed, polished, full of high-octane feed and had a rodeo to attend.
Nevertheless, they gave chase, caught the calf, pulled the porcupine quills with the needle-nose pliers, and were rewarded with a generous dose of the calf's bodily fluids for their trouble.
Even though Jess was wearing his lucky fast-time shirt, there was always the emergency shirt. His contestant number would cover that faded spot from hanging in the truck. Changed and ready to roll again, off they went.
Once at the rodeo grounds, Jess was greeted by friends who obviously had suspicious motives. They told stories of how he used to ride broncs instead of just roping. After a while and quite possibly some alcohol encouragement, he was inspired enough to find himself on a saddle bronc. He was promptly head first in the dirt as he heard the announcer making his apologies. He blamed it on Murphy.
Since his original intent was to rope, in spite of his minor difficulties throughout the day, he was still determined to do so. He and Flint backed in the box and although he’d drawn a screecher of a running calf, he was able to make a credible run. But credible doesn’t pay too well and again Murphy took the blame, or the credit.
Those same "friends" that encouraged the bronc ride were feeling slightly responsible for previous transgressions, so they invited Jess to go with them to the rodeo dance. The thoughts of pretty girls and buckle-polishing music prompted Jess to ponder the possibilities.