Just say, deep doo-doo wouldn't do

April 14, 2009 10:47:30 AM PDT
Mack Stark figures cattle raisers can appreciate the name of his west central Texas ranch and makes no apologies for the words in big black letters on the steel arch over the dirt and gravel driveway. [SIGN UP: Get bizarre news sent to you]

The name's not exactly fit to print, but let's just say "Deep Droppings Cattle Co." or "Deep Excrement Cattle Co." wouldn't have the same effect.

"That has a ring to it," the 75-year-old rancher said.

A ring of truth, Lavon Stark, his wife of almost 45 years, chimes in.

"If you've ever been in the cattle business, you know," she added.

After all, it's why cowboy boots go up almost to your knees. That comes in handy in this part of the state where manure runs deep and cars are outnumbered by cattle haulers rumbling along Texas Highway 36 in and out of Comanche, about 10 miles to the west of the Starks' 140-acre ranch.

And thus the name Mack Stark gave to his operation "six or eight years ago" after a tough day of herding and moving cattle and, naturally, stepping in it.

As he tells the story, after a third trip one day with a hauler to the cattle auction, somebody asked where this latest load was coming from. A tired and dirty Mack Stark blurted out a name that some now might consider a not-so-polite term for the economic situation of the nation.

"He has a dry sense of humor sometimes," Lavon Stark, 72, says.

The name -- like its namesake -- stuck.

The Starks' sons didn't forget the comment and made him a sign as a gift.

"He just died laughing," his wife recalled.

She asked him if he was certain he wanted to put it up along the highway.

"I sure do," he replied.

[ Want to see the sign? If you're a grown up and feel you can handle it, here's the photo ]

Mack Stark said the only really negative reaction came from "one old lady at Rising Star (a nearby town) about how sorry I was for putting that up. She didn't like it. I just let it go at that."

Somebody once stole the sign in the middle of the night, so Mack Stark just went to town and ordered new letters and made a fancier sign flanked by silhouettes of cattle.

It's a tourist attraction of sorts as people spot it and turn around to take pictures -- a highway maneuver that Mack Stark worries will lead to a wreck.

"They come all day and into the night," he said. "I'm afraid somebody is going to get killed."

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