Bryce Angell is a cowboy poet. Angell was raised on a farm/ranch in the St. Anthony, Idaho area with approximately 75 head of horses. Horses remain an important part of Angell’s life.

Angell shares his poetry with Cache Valley Daily every Friday.

I was thumbing through the Netflix channels when, there it was, the great western television series, “Lonesome Dove.”  I eagerly watched, for the tenth time, when five minutes into the episode, there was a scene where Newt, PeaEye and Dish were playing a knife game called Mumblety-peg.  I had completely forgotten about the game of Mumblety-peg.

Mumblety-peg can be a dangerous game if you choose to play it that way.  One brainless way is to see how close you can throw your knife to your feet without slicing your toes. Newt, PeaEye and Dish were playing the game safely by staying away from their toes.

Instantly, memories came flooding in.  I was around 16 and my brother was 13. It was early July and we had been hauling hay all morning.   My father always took an hour for lunch, so we shoveled in a tuna fish sandwich then went outside to play Mumblety-peg.

We usually kept a razor sharp edge on our pocket knives and my younger brother’s knife was no exception. However, he was still learning how to control the direction of his throw.   We would flip the knife off a shoulder, an arm or even our nose hoping it would land blade first in the ground.  I’d like to think we played the game of Mumblety-peg in a safe and careful way.

But then, enter Murphy’s Law.  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

My flip of the knife was a perfect dive to the dirt.   Now needing to be exactly followed-up by my brother.   But when he flipped the knife from his shoulder he mistakenly shot it straight down toward his feet.  The sharp blade landed in the toe of his shoe, went completely through and stuck in the dirt.  The absolute silence was deafening.  I told him not to move.  His eyes were bigger than two bullfrog’s eyes in a staredown.  I believe that was the first time, up till then, he did what I asked.

I felt about as worthless as a nickel waitin’ for change, but I managed to push the knife blade opposite the sharp edge to prevent cutting the skin.  I quickly pulled it out.  Gus McCrae would have been proud.   I expected a gush of blood.  But there wasn’t any sign of blood on the knife or his shoe.  I nervously yanked his shoe and sock off.  The blade had landed between his big toe and the second.   The incident gave new meaning to the old saying of splitting hairs.  My brother changed his socks and we hauled hay the rest of that day.  This time with a little less cussing and a lot more humility.

And as once said by a wise cowboy friend of mine, “Many of life’s problems can be solved by watching and listening to  Lonesome Dove.”

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