Good Neighbor

by Baxter Black

Jim said he had the best two-strand bob wire fence in the country! The ranchers who bordered him got together and fixed his fence. Now his pasture is gettin’ thin and he’s only got half as many cows! That didn’t please Jim’s banker. So he reduced his line of credit and told him to sell part of his herd to make a payment. Jim explained that he’d planned on doin’ that very thing but the cows he had earmarked to sell disappeared when the neighbors fixed his fence!

Besides, he couldn’t make a payment because he needed to buy another feed wagon. The banker observed that he had financed a brand new feed wagon for him last fall and since he only had half as many cows he wouldn’t be needing a second one. Jim explained it was not a second one but a replacement since the first one burned up. Didn’t the banker see it down by the road? He said, now that he mentioned it, he did see something down by the road but he thought it was some exotic metal sculpture mailbox!

But insurance would surely cover it, insisted the banker. Well, it would have, Jim said, but he had dropped behind on the premium payment when he had gone into the ostrich business. Chance of a lifetime! Get in at the beginning. He bought a boar and a sow ostrich, or whatever you call ‘em, bred ‘em up and hatched the eggs himself. Kept ‘em warm and turned ‘em reg’lar. He placed ‘em where they’d be protected and he built a small fire to maintain a constant temperature. Unfortunately they got hardboiled when the feed wagon caught fire!

Before he could breed ‘em again, the stud ostrich got hung up tryin’ to eat outta the hog feeder and strangled himself! Jim said they ate him. The mama ostrich managed to get out in the road. She was hit by the county commissioner’s wife. It totaled her car! That’s why the road hasn’t been graded for six months.

Matter of fact, the potholes have got so bad that Jim talked to the state parks department and thinks he’s convinced them it’s part of the Oregon Trail. If they’ll just declare the lane from the house to the barn a natural grassland he could set a couple of picnic tables and attract tourists. Charge’m two bucks a car. With that money, he said, he could stock the front pasture with wildlife. Maybe start small, a buffalo and a couple of possum. Then he said, he could start a museum if he was able to find that two-headed calf he’d bought at a yard sale in Pawhuska.

But how do you expect to pay down the loan, asked the exasperated banker! No sweat, said Jim, he’d gone pardners with BLM on fifty-six head of wild horses. No money down. All he had to do was furnish the pasture. He’d have plenty of feed for them horses plus his cows. At least he would as soon as he did a little work on the fence!