Ladies and gentlemen, if you can’t avoid going through a cow manure carwash, please keep your mouth closed. Most likely, you already knew that.
Between the Old and the New American West, there always has been cow manure. The only problem is—sometimes, we’re not sure where it’s going to land.
Years back, before the days of cattle hauling semitrucks, there were only flat-beds with cattle racks.
A loyal WLJ reader from Kansas informs me he was moving about a dozen cows on a flatbed from one spring pasture to another. The girls were packed tightly and a “little loose” from eating their fill of fresh green grass.
Sixty years later, the loyal reader is not sure exactly what happened. Maybe the lead cow found a pocket of extra good grass and kept it to herself. Perhaps the truck went around a corner and the girls all l-e-a-n-e-d on one cow.
Either way, this sort of thing has happened before and it’ll happen again. It’s not a big deal, except to the folks who were passing the truck in a convertible with the top down—they were sprayed with a steady stream of digested grass. The car, contents and people were covered with former pasture.
The loyal WLJ reader didn’t stop to check if the folks in the convertible kept their mouths closed— he figured he couldn’t help them if they didn’t.
These days, Rachel knows when to keep her mouth closed.
One warm and sunny day, Rachel was delivering mail down a quiet country road—with her passenger window wide open. On her rural route, a loose steer in the road is no big deal. She had just pulled away from a mailbox and, slowly, eased around the wandering animal.
But when she zigged, the steer zagged and Rachel struck the frightened animal on the left shoulder, spinning him around 180 degrees.
Window open, she slowly rolled past the emissions end of the startled steer.
Her timing was terrible.
The next instant, she was in range and sprayed with a high-pressure stream of liquid fertilizer— through the open window. It covered her, the interior of the car and the mail.
She stopped at the next two houses on her route to wash up—no one was home.
But Rachel is a resourceful woman. She pulled to the side of the road, found an old paper cup in her car and climbed into the running irrigation ditch.
There, literally, she washed off the big chunks.
For days after this incident, the postmaster, Rachel’s boss, handled numerous complaints from neighbors who didn’t appreciate their mail smelling like cow manure. In each case, the irate citizen walked into the post office with a grim look on his face and, without fail, the same person would leave chuckling to himself after listening to this story.
So the next time your mail delivery is a little slow, you might want to pause and sniff the envelopes before you pick them up. If anything smells suspicious—immediately slam your mouth shut—to be on the safe side. Your mail carrier will understand if you show him this story.
For those of you who are curious, Rachel has been around livestock all her life. She assures us that she knows exactly when to keep her mouth closed and that keeping her lips tightly pressed together may have been the best part of the whole day. — D. “Bing” Bingham [Bing Bingham is a writer, rancher and storyteller.
He rolls up his window when passing a cattle truck on a tight corner. If you have a story to pass along, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]