Monday, March 18, 2013

Free Range Beef

I navigate about 10 miles of open range almost every day coming home from work. And by open range, I don't mean bullets or mortars; I mean cattle.

Photo from Wikipedia
To understand why, we have to go back to 1942. In January of that year, the War Department decided they needed some tank destroyer units to counter the crazy death machines the krauts were using. They selected a lonely chunk of land in the middle of Texas and named it after John Bell Hood and his Confederate Texas Brigade. However, the land wasn't quite empty and the communities of Clear Creek, Elijah, and Antelope got uprooted in the name of Eminent Domain. The War Department was surprisingly charitable and struck a deal with the displaced ranchers; they could continue to use the land for cattle grazing. To this day most of Fort Hood is open range for longhorn cattle.

What does this mean for motorcyclist? Most of you have seen what a deer can do to a car; just imagine what  an even bigger animal could do to a motorcycle. Now, the beef walking around seem generally more wary of traffic than deer so I'm not really scared of the adult cattle. Even with those death-prongs jutting out, they're pretty sedate and even-tempered. It's the jittery calves that get my adrenaline going. They're 'only' 200 pounds or so, but they sometimes jump out of the underbrush and it wouldn't take much to ruin my ride home. I've shared a single lane with a spooked calf twice and that is too many times. I try to ride the center line when I see cattle, especially around turns or when there's brush by the roadside.

Odometer: 13145

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