I got a message from Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash the other day. He said they were re-doing the corrals at the timed event end of the fairgrounds arena and could use some help.
I initially thought he was in need of a good plan for the new layout. Always eager to be a consultant and share my extensive knowledge on corral configuration, I readily accepted his invitation to participate. We set up an appointment for the next day at 8 a.m.
I cleaned up and appropriately dressed in my best ranch apparel, grabbed some sketches I had worked on for the corral feng schui remodel and headed for the fairgrounds arriving 10 minutes early for the appointment.
Upon arrival and ready to consult, I happily headed toward Todd and Greg Seifer, the fairgrounds ace employee, who were already at the site. After some pleasantries, Todd said, “well we better get at it.”
With that, he and Greg began the demolition of the standing set of corrals. I became a little confused but feeling uncomfortable standing around, eventually started helping with the work. Todd and Greg worked with a steady efficiency and were making good progress.
I fetched tools and helped move things that took more than one person. I accidentally got caught up in the effort and began working like my two subordinates.
Greg works at not just an efficient rate, but at an accelerated pace and was accomplishing far more than I was comfortable with. Somewhat embarrassed by my lack of progress, I tried working faster until I noticed a salty liquid on my skin.
Not being used to a condition referred to as sweating, I felt pretty uncomfortable. By now it was close to 10 a.m. and what would normally be coffee time for the Mensa society meeting that occurs at the bakery each weekday.
I considered offering to see if I could recruit a few members to help us and who would probably slow down the pace to a reasonable rate. My fondest hope was to recruit the Mensa master who could probably drag things to a complete halt.
That however would require some creative trickery, and it better be good. He can be very evasive about anything requiring a lot of activity.
Alas, the suggestion was rejected. We pressed on at what seemed like a furious pace and by noon we had the demolition complete and ready for the backhoe to pull the posts, due in no small part to my 7 percent contribution, okay 5 percent, Todd graciously offered to buy Greg and I lunch. I accepted but Greg had some loose ends to wrap up before the backhoe arrived and declined.
Todd has been a politician for only a short time but seems to be adapting well. He has secured two $500 donations for material to rebuild but is way short of the necessary amount to replace the facility and any additional donations would be truly appreciated.
The corrals we tore down were not only functionally shot, they were a real danger with rotted off posts and broken boards. Totally unusable.
If the money can be raised for the completion, we will have a venue where team ropings, junior rodeo, mule days events and other competitions can be held. I am pretty sure there is no minimum amount for any donations.
FOR THE last several years CJD has contracted with Dan Ackley to be the chute boss at the rodeo. Dan suffered a stroke at Pendleton this year and it proved to be fatal.
A chute boss has a huge responsibility. He needs to know the rules, barrier measurements, which side to tie the neck rope on the cattle and a whole lot of other minutia that keeps the timed events functioning like a well-oiled machine.
He makes sure the right cowboy gets the correct steer or calf. It is his responsibility to watch every aspect of every run and be sure everything is right. If anything malfunctions, he has to know the alternative and enforce it.
A malfunction sometimes causes conflict with a contestant and a big bulldogger can be very intimidating, but there was no back down in Dan, and everyone knew it. Dan worked a lot of rodeos in the northwest and will be missed at every one of them.
I can’t tell you how much the crew at the timed event end looked forward to working with Dan each year. He will be hard to replace.
Barrie Qualle is a Wallowa County-based cowboy and author.