This post was originally published back on March 10, 2018 as part of the Farm Oddities segment. The story has been revised for quality purposes because we felt like it and is now a part of Texas Tales and Trails. Deal with it.
If you’ve never been to the Texas Panhandle, you’re missing out. Wide open spaces and farmland for as far as the eye can see. Yes indeed, it sounds like heaven. Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to spend some time working on a feedlot for an internship and I enjoyed one of the best summers I had ever had, even despite the record drought.
I lived in a town called Sunray, Texas, which was pretty much the Panhandle equivalent to my home in North Kosciusko. Nearest major grocery store was in Dumas [15-20 minutes] and the nearest big city was Amarillo [60 minutes-ish]. Fun enough, I got to experience what life was like at the other end of Texas. To get to Sunray from South Texas, it was a solid 13-hour drive. Once in the northern end of the State, I could wake up in the morning and do a handful of chores, drive and have a late breakfast in Guymon, Oklahoma and then drive a little further and have lunch in Liberty, Kansas.
The first weekend I was there, I took to exploring the new area and driving around to check out the countryside. To set the scene, I was driving an obnoxiously loud, black Dodge dually with the windows down while blaring Charlie Robison’s Good Times album. Specifically, the song Flatland Boogie, because of the relative flat nature of the land around me.
Back home, the farming country was different. Mostly, there were trees and topography. Where I was in the panhandle, they had sections. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a one-square mile tract of land containing 640 acres. Commonly, there was some sort of crop being grown with a center pivot supplying the water for it or a pasture full of cattle. In being so geometrically pleasing and square, there’s not a whole lot of curvature in the road system.
I was taking in the sights and smells of the wide open with the windows down and caught myself in a daydream just about the time Charlie broke into Magnolia. Being that this was in my youth, I can admit that I was being rather irresponsible. There were no other cars around for miles [I could see for miles], the roads were straight and true, and I was in possession of a Cummins with a non-existent exhaust system. Needless to say, I ‘twas flying.
Travelling about 80 mall-nour [a country-ish way of saying fast], I was introduced quite abruptly that the roads in the Panhandle farming country will switch from paved to caliche quick-like and in a hurry. Fully puckered, I had no choice but to release the accelerator, keep the tires pointed straight, and for the love of God stay as far away from the brakes as I could. After creating about a mile-long dust cloud, I finally rolled into an acceptable speed.
After the dust settled, I did what everyone does in the history of stupid decisions: I looked to make sure no one saw me. Across the fence, a bald-faced mama cow chewed on a large mouthful of grass and we sat there for a moment, silently agreeing that neither of us would ever speak of this again. About that time, the CD rolled around to the beginning of the album and I laughed as Charlie suggested that we were going to have a good time.