Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nothing to lose

It is way too late to be posting to this blog but I have been wanting to get something posted and now seemed as good as time as any. Tonight I am going to tell the story of "Kobe" a steer that had a bit of a rough go of it in the beginning but in the end turned out just perfectly.

I flash back to April 2, 2011 which is one of two "weigh in" days for two of the fairs Dakota attends and shows at. The day was a nice spring day in the Columbia Basin and Dakota and I loaded her 3 steers named Shaq, Kobe and LeBron in the stock trailer to head to Connell for weigh in day. The loading went fine and when we got there we helped other entrants get their steers weighed and tagged and waited until there was a break in the action to weigh her steers. Shaq went first and all went well, Kobe was second in line and as he was ran up the alleyway I worked on loading Shaq. In the blink of an eye and one open gate and next thing we knew Kobe was weighed but also freed of the confines of the corral. Personally, I think he would have come back to his friends but being in an unfamiliar environment and with the help of some zealous pursuers he bolted and headed for downtown Connell. I jumped in a friends pickup hoping to coax Kobe back to the corral but as the minutes passed I felt more and more like a cheap hooker on a Saturday night, it really looked like we were f*cked bad.

Kobe traveled down the Esquatzel canal and I was a bit late to cut him off at Columbia Avenue so off through the sand dunes he headed. I know Dakota will tell you I had Marks pickup at a 89 degree angle going up a hill but in all reality it was only 87.5%. Kobe traveled, and traveled and went through 3 barb wire fences and was getting more on the "fight" by the second. He went through a few different yards and also took a tour of the partially built new grade school. By this point I had taken an inventory of what the cab of Marks pickup contained and luckily there was a lasso in our possession. The problem was that even though the Olberding family has been in the beef business for generations we have some type of roping disability and my confidence of what the future held for us was not good.

As Kobe ran I could see a place ahead that looked like maybe we could corner him with the F150. Cornering him was possible but the only way to do that was on Dakotas side of the pickup. I made a loop of the lariat, handed it to her, gave a short presentation on how to properly toss a loop, told her the family was full of great ropers, and then prayed to Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, Moses, Waylon Jennings, Motley Crue, Larry Olberding Sr. and anyone else that was listening and not laughing at that point. As we approached the point of no return I gently let Kobe bend down the passenger fender like a good Nascar racer at Bristol and told Dakota, "Just throw the damn loop darlin, we ain't got nothin to lose at this point sweetheart!".

The next few seconds seemed like a week and I will remember them the rest of my life. Dakota threw the loop, the loop sailed wide, high and true and gently laid down around the neck of Kobe. The next few seconds seemed like a year as Dakota and I looked at each other in disbelief and realized we would never win the lottery but holy hell we got this calf!!!!!! Now I am not a big Ford man but with a double dally around the steering column and 678 pounds of pissed off Angus steer on the other end the Ford proved to be "built tough". The cavalry soon arrived with more humans and my pickup and stock trailer. We were able to get Kobe into the trailer, shut the gate and travel back to pick up Lebron who wondered just what the hell all the ruckus was about.

We got Kobe home and treated his cut up legs and gave him some antibiotic. Dakota was justly concerned about his future as a show steer. I told her it really was not his fault and we would give him a try. As the spring and summer went on Kobe calmed down, learned to trust humans and he came to really love Dakota and Chelsey our intern. Still, because of his past we always wondered if something would set him off and especially if he would give problems if he returned to Connell for the fair.

Last week Kobe got a blue ribbon in market class and stood as the Reserve Champion intermediate 4H fitting and showing steer. I was so proud of this animal and also of Dakota with what life had presented and the final outcome. Kobe also did great as a bovine gaining over 4 pounds per day and finishing at 1369 pounds. When life looks like it is so imperfect, a bit of perseverance, trust and faith can really pay off! Congrats Gus, and Kobe you will always be a special memory for all of us.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the cow, calf, bull, bovine aka Bos taurus which is the most important for us in how we make a living.

Today's picture is Kobe as a newborn last January. I also am adding a YouTube video of a song that captures the essence of this story. Tom Petty sings, "Even the losers, get lucky sometimes."