A Ranchero with a cow-shaped dent

December 7, 2016

Dr. Bo Brock turns his column over to Dr. W. J. Hill, a proud Ford Ranchero owner with a sad story to tell.

Unless you're a little long in the tooth, you've probably never heard of the Ford Ranchero-a vehicle with a station wagon front and a pickup bed on the back that was manufactured between 1957 and 1979. When I was in high school, the cool dudes drove Rancheros. The peculiar rigs seemed like chick magnets. Naturally, I wanted one. My Ranchero ownership dreams never came true, but they did for my friend, W. J. Hill, DVM, and he recently told me a story about his that had me rolling.

A patriarch of veterinary medicine, Dr. Hill practiced in Dimmitt, Texas, for many years. I remember hearing about him as a kid and thinking how cool it would be to grow up and be like him. Here is the Ranchero story as penned by the man himself. Thanks for the laugh, W. J. –Bo



In the fall of 1971, a call came in regarding a downer cow near Friona, 38 miles from my veterinary clinic in Dimmitt. Often referred to as “wheat pasture poisoning,” the condition was not uncommon. It frequently occurs in cows grazing good wheat-especially if the cows are pregnant or have already calved and are nursing.

In a nutshell, these cows lack access to proper mineral supplementation and are calcium- and magnesium-deficient. As a result, they pull calcium out of their own bones to provide calcium-rich milk to their calves and deplete calcium faster than they take it in. Cows in this condition go down and their muscles will not contract.

Treatment involves an IV solution of calcium and magnesium, which must be given slowly to prevent heart damage. If given in time, this treatment is almost always successful.

Frank, my helper for many years, grabbed a stainless steel bucket (the carrier of choice for large animal veterinarians) and we filled it with IV tubes, needles, syringes and IV fluid before getting in my newly purchased practice truck-a yellow Ford Ranchero. It was the coolest truck ever and I knew we looked good driving to the Friona farm on that cold, dreary day.

After about 20 minutes, the IV treatment was complete and the cow started showing signs of life. I headed back to my shiny new truck and watched as the cow got up. It is well-known that when the cow gets up, she's usually angry and offers to help you back to the truck.

Sure enough, the cow we'd just nursed back to health was pawing, slinging her head and blowing snot out of her nose. Frank, who was still gathering up our equipment, needed to hurry back to the truck-but that's not what happened. Instead, he picked up a dirt clod and blasted her between the eyes as he yelled, “Take that, you old hussy!”

The cow exploded and charged at Frank with fury. I was hollering for Frank to run like the devil and get out of there. With the cow gaining on Frank, he dove into the back of my beautiful Ranchero. Still at full speed, the cow lowered her head and crashed into the side of my truck, caving it in.

Now I was hot with rage. “Why did you dive into the back of my truck?” I demanded. Frank replied, “You didn't want me to get hurt, did you?”