Life is Simple
As I have gotten older, I have put a lot more emphasis on the disposition of my cows than I used to. When I was younger and more “mobile,” I didn’t care what kind of attitude was assumed by the female bovine as long as she laid down and produced a live calf every year. But, as age and back surgeries have both increased, I have tried to gather a “kinder and gentler” herd of cows that don’t attempt to maim me whenever I get within a hundred yards of them. Until Tuesday, I was down to a mere two cows that were of questionable repute.
That’s why I was not completely devastated when I found one of the last two “mean ones” laying on the side of a cold, icy hill with all four feet sticking straight up to the heavens. Oh sure, I hate to lose any animal for any reason, but the grief this cow had caused in the three short years I had owned her made her passing much more tolerable.
She was a black-baldy with a “touch of ear” and a demeanor that made every coyote and wild dog within ten miles stay away from her pasture. She had died trying to give birth on one of the coldest and iciest nights of this winter and had slid around to where her feet were uphill, ultimately causing her death by being unable to right herself. It was unfortunate for her and just as unfortunate for me because she had died right beside a well-traveled, paved road.
With traffic creeping by at a snails pace on the ice-covered road that morning, I knew I had to dispose of the old gal quickly before passers-by began calling the humane society or the sheriff to complain about what a cruel and heartless person I was by not taking better care of my cows.
The area was socked-in by about an inch of solid ice this past week, and it was going to be difficult for me to move the 1400 pound cow anywhere, much less dig a hole to bury her in the frozen ground. After not quite enough consideration, I made the decision to pull her straight down the hill to the small creek bottom and out of sight of motorists. She could rest there until things thawed out later in the week and I could bury her with the front-end loader. The ground was so slick; I just hoped I could make it back UP the hill after I delivered the carcass to the bottom.
I hooked a twenty-foot log chain around her rear legs and to the back of the truck. I very cautiously started down the steep slope, inching along and locked in four-wheel drive. I knew I had to take it slow so as to avoid going into a slide on the icy hill. As I concentrated on keeping my wheels in the ruts of past travel, something appeared out of the corner of my left eye. The old black-baldy was sliding by the side of my truck and, at first, I figured she had become unattached from the chain, but alas, I was wrong.
I gently applied the brakes to keep from sliding, but the cow appeared to pick up speed just as the chain became taut. The momentum of the cow jerked the truck around 180 degrees to where I was now staring up the hill and looking at a tree in my rearview mirror approaching very rapidly. Luckily, the truck missed the tree and came to rest at the bottom of the hill—on top of the dead cow.
Eventually, I managed to get the truck off the cow and was even able to pull the old bitty to the edge of timber where she’ll get a proper burial when the weather cooperates.
All my neighbors who have heard the story are giving me a hard time with comments like, “Has your truck been outrun by any dead cows lately?” or “How does it look to see a tree gaining on you in your rearview mirror?”
It just goes to show that, even in death, a crazy, old cow can still cause problems.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him through his website at www.jerrycrownover.com.