This column comes to you from the Department of Common Sense—or lack of it.
It was a lovely fall day in the Colorado mountains, the sort where a person can fill their lungs to near bursting with clean, clear air.
Ben and April Nichols were cleaning up the Buzzard Allotment—with around a hundred bulls—on the Grand Mesa National Forest just before hunting season. The highways were full of hunters headed to the hills, eager to point a rifle at something with hair.
Complicating matters, there was a steady stream of camera-clicking tourists taking advantage of the colorful trees and crisp weather.
Keeping an eye on mixed herds, Ben an April noticed a couple of white bulls merging nearby. Fortunately, they barely paid attention to each other—no big deal.
A short time later, a white pickup with an overhead camper began moving slowly through the herd.
That’s when the white bulls noticed each other— they began to argue, then fight—dust flew, snot slung and bellows echoed.
Ben and April had noticed farm tags on the license plate of the pickup. They figured the “farm boy” would recognize the potential hazard of stopping to watch a couple of bulls sort matters out next to the road.
Nope—with a massive lack of common sense, the “farm-boy” stopped his truck for a front row seat next to the sparring bulls.
“One of those bulls is going to break and run,” Ben said to April, “and that truck is going to get clobbered.”
They shouted and hollered a warning at the “farm-boy.” He was too busy watching the battling bulls to pay attention.
Moments later, the bulls decided who was boss. The loser dived full-tilt off the cut-bank smack into the side of the pickup—damaging truck and camper.
The loser left the area at high speed with the winner urging him along by hitting him in the butt at every jump. As the bulls disappeared into the distance and the dust settled, Ben and April rode over to where the “farm-boy” was examining the damage.
“Do you know who owned those bulls,” the farm-boy asked, “I want to know who’s going to pay for this damage.”
By that time, the bulls were long gone from the area. Ben and April explained there were about 10 permittees on this allotment and dozens more adjoining. The bulls had been too far away for them to see the brand.
They offered their sympathies to the “farm-boy” and explained that Colorado is an open-range state and cattle have the right-of-way. They continued, as diplomatically as possible, that he’d stopped to view the bull fight of his own free will.
This didn’t seem to give the “farm-boy” much comfort. Afterwards, he drove to the Forest Service offices and laid his complaint before them. He received no satisfaction and was probably grumpy as he left the parking lot in his dented pickup.
To this day, neither Ben nor April Nichols has seen the white bulls—or the “farm-boy’s” dented truck— since. They have no idea if the “farm-boy” understood that common sense might have been an issue in the matter of his damaged truck.
As Ben and April pull their cattle out of the high country this year, the Department of Common Sense hopes everything went smoothly and there were no breathtaking surprises. — D. “Bing” Bingham [Bing Bingham is a writer, rancher and storyteller. He laughed and giggled until his sides hurt when Ben and April sent him this story. If you have a story to pass along, contact him at bing@ bingbingham.com.]