Cattle are strange creatures. Almost as strange as the creatures who care for them – cowboys. I suppose the strangest cattle and most storied of all are the Brahma breed. Long, floppy ears, white humps, a deep and basso profundo, gurgling bray, and the personality of a wounded panther, combine to make a Beast to challenge the very best skilled cowhand.
One wit here in Central Texas claimed that Brahma cattle had done more to improve cattle handling pens than any other force, either because the pens were built strong enough and high enough to begin with, or because they were rebuilt after the cattle destroyed them.
I remember the story about the young truck driver who was to load a “bull bus” out of a set of pens in Deep East Texas. The part Cajun cowboys had worked for days with horses, hounds, ropes and whips extracting a herd of wild “braymers” out of tangled tickets and dark piney woods and swamps along the Angelina bottom. The pens were typical, part ancient board fence, part bed springs, a post held up by parking a tractor against it.
The truck owner told the young driver to enter slowly, very slowly, down a long steep hill and use a low gear. The driver was told not to use the “Jake brake,” a vacuum retard device on the engine that makes a sound not unlike a machine gun.
Well our hero looked down the hill and saw all the “He-Man” cowboys in hats pulled down over dark faces, stained chaps and torn shirts and decided he needed to show some muscle of his own.
You guessed it; about halfway down the hill he flipped the “Jake brake.”
The already nervous pen of two hundred “white hump” cattle exploded. In two seconds the pen was flattened, the cattle were scattered six ways from Sunday.
As the cowboys began to approach the truck with ropes and large knives, and really mean expressions, the truck line owner skidded up beside the tractor-trailer, and said
“get out of that truck kid, and get in this pick up! I’m getting you out of here! Your life’s not worth a plugged nickel here!”