Mad Cows and Cowboys
Thursday June 9, 2005
By Nancy Bringhurst
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Today there is great concern over Mad Cow Disease. In 1929, two buckaroos working in Northern California had to contend with mad cows of another sort.
Tom Tepper (TEHP-er) and Austin McCrary (Mik-KRAIR-ee), rode out from a ranch owned by Charlie Demmick. Their job was to collect twenty steers and take them to the railroad in Ravendale between Susanville and Alturas. All went well until one of the steers suddenly stopped. He looked around as if crazed, charged a juniper tree, dropped down, and died. One mile later, another steer fell to the ground, though they could see he was still alive. Tom and Austin panicked fearing they'd be fired if Demmick thought the steers were run to death.
Austin had heard a cow could survive if you drew blood by cutting off his tail close to his body. Tom knew it didn't make sense, but was desperate enough to try anything. Austin took his pocketknife and proceeded to experiment on the dying cow. The cow was up in a flash charging Austin. Fortunately the cow dropped dead before reaching Austin who was headed for his frightened horse.
It turned out the cattle had rabies and maybe at the time, the cowboys had gone a little mad too.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Nancy Bringhurst, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
"Under the Stars" The Life and Times of Tom Tepper, as told to Nancy J. Bringhurst