Unfriendly Persuasion

Jessie Perkins worked for us for many years, and he and his family lived on the place at Blue Ridge. One of the cows there was another high-headed wild cow I had got in another bunch of cattle I had bought. I told Jessie to take one of the pickups and a trailer, load her up and take her to the sale barn before she ruined the whole herd. The next morning, I was so busy, up to my armpits in alligators and I got a call from Jessie. “We can’t get her in the trailer to take her to the sale. Little Jessie and Bryan and me tried but she won’t go”. I was steamed, I said” Jessie put that cow in the trailer and takes her to the sale. Do whatever you need to do but just load her”. We were loading out the delivery trucks at the Nursery and we had about 40 people employed at the time, and it seemed like every one of them had a problem for me to deal with that morning.

Jessie calls an hour later, “George, we can’t get her to do nothing”. I was hopping mad and I said,”(Expletive) Jessie, I will be there in an hour”. I was extremely mad at Jessie, and by the time I drove 30 minutes to Blue Ridge, I was at a rolling boil.

I arrived in a cloud of dust and got out of my pickup. Jessie, little Jessie (age 16), Bryan (Little Jessie’s friend also 16) and the whole family were standing by the pens peeking through the boards at this obstinate old cow in the pen. I always carried an oak ax handle behind the seat of my pickup (I still have it). I got out, reached for my ax handle, and walked over to the corral. Jessie said to not go into the corral because she had almost run them down when they tried to load her. I did not say a word to Jessie. I climbed over the fence into the pen with Mrs. Mean. (All my cattle were gentle and I generally moved them around with a feed bucket but every once in a while you would get a bad one and the only thing to do was get rid of her as soon as you could).

When she saw me; she lowered her head and started for me. I tried to booger her by waving my arms and walking toward her. She had been so successful putting everyone over the fence, she was not going to pay any attention to me. She ducked her head and started after me, expecting me to make a run for the fence. I took a stance like Mickey Mantle and as she got to me, I laid a lick across her eyes you could have heard half way into the next county. She sort of shook her head, backed away from me, and stood there looking at me. She was slobbering at the mouth and rolling her eyes. She was putting on a big “mean me” show, pawing the ground and making heavy breathing sounds and then she lowered her head to make another run at me. I didn’t move except, I drew back my ax handle, showing her I was ready for her to bring it on. She stopped and we locked eyes with me taking a couple of practice swings with my ax handle.

She was thinking, “is he bluffing and why doesn’t he run?” She must have decided, “No he is not bluffing”. At this point, she turned around and calmly trotted to the other end of the corral, into the chute and up into the trailer. I slammed the rear door of the trailer and locked it down. I then stalked back across the dusty corral to the fence, climbed over it, and got into my pickup. I then drove off, never saying one word to anyone.

I later heard about this story from a lot of different sources. A day or two later, I was at the feed store picking up some range cubes for the cattle and Carroll, the owner, said, “I understand that you had to give Jessie a little help loading cows the other day”. I was surprised because, I had told no one, not even Charlotte. He said little Jessie had told him and Little Jessie had tears in his eyes he was laughing so hard when he told him the complete story. About a week after our little show, I came into Bill’s Cafe one morning about 6 AM for breakfast. All the farmers, ranchers and businessmen of McKinney met there almost every morning when Bill opened at 5AM. One of the ranchers I knew pretty well jumped up and offered me his chair with great overacting saying, ”Mr Field (he never called me anything but George) please take my seat.” I was embarrassed and took a lot of ribbing and good-natured joking for about a month.