Today’s post is written by author L.D. Bergsgaard, who currently lives in sunny Arizona, but for many years braved the Minnesota winters. Larry is a retired Special Agent with unique experiences adding a rare dimension to the crime story genre. Fellow writer William Henry says, “There are many authors who dream of being cops. Few do. There are many cops who strive to write. Few can. L.S. Bergsgaard is the rare exception of a street harden cop who can write like a poet.” In addition to writing crime novels, Larry also pens some darn good western stories.
By L. D. Bergsgaard
I had spent the better part of a year preparing to rope my first calf at round-up. I had, so I figured, paid my dues on the ground, what with flanking calves, notching ears, and generally getting in the way during branding. I looked up to those cowboys on horseback as they effortlessly roped the calves and brought them to guys and gals waiting in the corral with inoculations, branding irons, and razor sharp knives. Perhaps it was a desire to escape the flaying hoofs, the aching back, and the bruises. Maybe it was latent ambition to prove my worth and earn the title “Cowboy.” So I set about my goal; next year I would be astride my horse and roping.
It was a tall order for a number of reasons. First, I am by nature an autodidact, a self-learner. I read books, looked at photos, and watched videos. Second, my buckskin mare needed to learn the secrets of working cows. Turns out she was a faster learner than me. Soon we were putting the moves on those plastic Corrientes that would turn Tee Woolman green with envy. I could, with great accuracy, rope either end of the plastic dummies who hadn’t learned to duck off. I could dally with lightening speed and my faithful mare would back up and hold them still. In short, we were ready.
By May, I was ready to display my talents to Old Gus, a lifelong rancher. Now riding only his golf cart he watched, flashed a crooked smile, and offered a few suggestions like roping my own horse’s legs. Was this some practical cowboy joke? No, he assured me, once the action begins in the corral you’re as apt to rope your horse as a bovine. I had my doubts but added that to my resume of skills anyway.
The cattle and their offspring were very cooperative during the roundup and cattle drive from the harsh mesas to the home ranch. As I rode drag, I envisioned snaring the straggling youngsters with my lariat. I was sure it would all come together the next day in the corral.
I sat tall in the saddle as I rode into the arena. I acknowledged those left on the ground with a tip of my straw hat and rode in among the cattle that were milling and mooing in anticipation. “Get’em boys!” Old Gus shouted from the golf cart. My mare moved forward aiming for a red calf standing in the open by his mother. An easy target, I squeezed my mare closer swinging my lariat high. The little guy didn’t move an inch as I laid the loop upright between his legs. He stepped into my trap and I pulled up snaring both legs. I dallied. The red calf bolted.
It was but a nanosecond before I realized I had never taken my learning beyond the stationary dummies. Like learning to fly but not land, Old Gus later offered.