Cowboy Took Her Away...By Proposing on a Steer's Ear Tag
By Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson
Dakota had gone to get a calf with a bad foot out of the pasture. Before he left, I asked if he needed help--the ranch we were on was very short on help so the two hands it employed often did their cowboy work alone. Sometimes, when he went to haul a sick steer from the pasture, he needed a hand with one that flat refused to get in the trailer.
But this time, he shook his head "Oh, no. He's easy going," he said with a wink as he shut the door behind him.
"Okayyy..." I shrugged. I figured I would probably be getting a call a little while later.
Sure enough, about thirty minutes later he called puffing and out of breath.
"Hi... I uh... I need help."
I couldn't help but laugh a little before responding, "Ok, I'll be right there. Just gotta get my boots on." God only knew what he had gotten into with this so-called "easy" steer.
After following some vague directions for which road to take to which pasture, through which gate and over which sandhill, I found him. By the time I reached him, I could see that he had the steer's legs tied together, but the steer was still standing, AND there was a rope on him, which struck me as odd--very odd, especially being that Dakota was on his horse instead of down on the ground with the steer.
I looked at the steer and back at Dakota and back at the steer again.
"Ummm...what exactly do you want me to do???"
"Well", he said, "I'm gunna pull him and you trip him and get him back down so he can't hook you and untie him."
Hook me? I thought he was easy going? None of this made sense. "What in the gunsel heck is going on here?" I thought. "Why in the world would he rope him, tie him, let him get up and then get back on his horse!?" But I'm not the cowboy in this here picture show, so I pulled him down and went to untie him like I'd been told to do, hoping this was gunna make some sort of sense after it was over.
"No, wait!" He half yelled, "You have to read me the number off his ear tag; we have to write it down for the hospital records."
I stared up at him with a look of consternation that surely conveyed the fact that I was wondering if he had had a heat stroke on this hot August day somewhere out there between the sandhills and the sage brush. None of this made a lick of sense. I was on the verge of saying, "Nooo, no you don't. We never do that. And the ear tag is teal. It's the same number as all the other teal tags. Now's not the time to lolligag; have you lost ALL your marbles!?"
Instead, I kept it to myself as I knelt onto the steer's shoulder to make sure he couldn't thrash into me if he had a mind to be ignorant, and I checked the tag just to make sure. Just as I had suspected, I saw the same four numbers that are on every teal tag.
With the same confused look I'd worn since I had arrived I looked up at him and said "...twenty one seventy???" in a tone that implied, "You are acting so bizarre. You KNOW what the tag says, but if you insist . . . "
"No, not that side." He answered, "The other side."
I thought, "All right, he has officially, most definitely lost it. Maybe he's super dehydrated. Maybe it's the lack of sleep over the last several months of working short-handed. There are not numbers on the back. There have never been numbers on the back. There will never BE numbers on the back."
At this point, I was genuinely worried, but just to appease him, I looked at the back of the tag so I could tell him it was obviously very blank, as it should be.
To my surprise, it wasn't blank. Hastily written in smeared permanent marker were the words, "Will you marry me???" I looked up wide-eyed. My mouth slowly formed into an "O" shape, as he got off his horse and presented me with a box with a ring inside it.
Turns out that steer really was laid back as far as yearling steers go, or he surely never would have participated in that sort of shenanigans. We laugh about it now--Dakota never actually asked the words, "Will you marry me?" and I never actually said, "Yes", but a year and a half later, we were married all the same. I don't think either of us had any idea of the adventures that were to follow.
Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson lives with her husband Dakota on a ranch in the high desert of New Mexico where he works as a full-time cowboy. Owner of Too Tall Outlaw. Halter maker. Picture taker. Bread baker. Lover of Jesus, plant indentification and any thing, place, or person with a story to tell. Wanna-be artist of words and paint.
Follow her on Instagram at: @tootalloutlaw