The squeeze chute

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40
beef cattle

The old squeeze chute sat useless. It was boneyard to the core.
It hadn’t seen a cow pushed through for twenty years or more.

The squeeze chute served its purpose but was old and obsolete.
The boneyard was a junkyard where you’d rob old parts for cheap.

The squeeze chute’s iron frame and metal intricate worn gears
were fair game for the cutting torch, the worst of all my fears.

The squeeze chute was our senior project back when still in school.
The class was Ag where I gained confidence, a brand new tool.

I called my cousin just to see if he remembered ‘bout,
the squeeze chute that we built with little brains and more of stout.

His memory was much better than my 70-year-old brain.
He said, “Don’t you remember ‘bout that night not using chains?”

He said, “Each year the Ag teacher would hold a shop room night.
You could work on projects all night long, if your parents thought it right.”

My cousin jogged my memory. It came flooding back to me.
I remembered what had happened.  It was plain enough to see.

We had cut out parts and pieces, not a minute’s time to shirk.
But, the shop room was so crowded there was barely room to work.

So we started into welding on our homemade cut-out gears.
When I soon fell into dizzy and a ringing in my ears.

I could hear the teacher yelling, “You should have used the tie-up chains.”
For all I know he might have said, “Cats and dogs fall when it rains.”

Well about that time I noticed I was laying on my back.
I soon deduced, with foggy brain, that something weren’t on track.

Another student’s twelve-foot pipe broke loose and hit me on the head.
It’s good that’s where it hit me. Somewhere else I might be dead.

So the other students loaded me in back of someone’s truck.
One night in the infirmary would prove my kind of luck.

That night was just a setback. A story of our cattle squeeze.
And a memory we can laugh about the good times, if you please.

So we loaded the old squeeze chute in my Chevy half-ton truck.
And with elbow grease and red spray paint, no need to reconstruct.

It will always be our project, but for cattle it is moot.
More a memory of two boys who built a homemade cow squeeze chute.

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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.

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