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Across the fence: Ludicrous speed!

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 February 2022

I’m a fan of ridiculous. I like spoofs or a good play on words. I remember when I was a kid, Spaceballs came out. It isn’t my favorite movie, but it had some goofy references that poked fun at Star Wars.

Do you ever feel like your day is a parody or a spoof when you’re working cows?

Me either! Ha!

This week, I’ve been under the weather. Yesterday, my hubby and the other cowboy worked cows – to deworm and delice. Usually this is a straightforward proposition – you bring the cows in the corrals, the cows walk through the chute and get a little pour-on, and out they go.

I should’ve known it was going to be one of “those” days when he said, “It’ll be so easy; it’ll be fine.” He was saying that to reassure me that they didn’t need my help, which he really didn’t, but I like to help when I can. Why is it that the days that are supposed to be so easy often aren’t?

Have you ever read the picture book, Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin? It was a favorite in our household when our kids were little because of its silliness. If you haven’t read it, the premise is that the cows like to type, and they start making demands of Farmer Brown – to the point of striking and shutting down supply. Sorry, no milk, no eggs. It’s a simple read that made my kids laugh out loud, and it’s funny for grownups, too.

Sometimes we feel like Farmer Brown – like the cows are on strike.

My husband said the cows were shocked about going through the chute. To be fair, sometimes when they go through the chute it isn’t the most pleasant experience. We do our best to keep it low-key and low stress, but this year, we had to bleed for brucellosis. I don’t think they enjoyed that experience.

It would be difficult in many regards if cattle were domesticated, but at the same time, it sure would help the chute experience if you could rub their heads and tell them, “Good girl!” (OK, I may do this with some of them.) But some days, it seems like the chute is the electric chair, the alleyway a labyrinth of horrors and the corral a roundup of doom.

I mean, sure, the cows are happier out on range – I get that. But we are also pretty calm in moving pastures and working cows, so we hope they will follow suit. Not always.

There are the days where you feel like the cows held an emergency meeting and devised devious plans:

  • Let’s trot in zigzags.
  • Is that a shadow?
  • And another shadow?
  • Oh my gosh, is that … another shadow?
  • Let’s do the opposite of everything the crew wants.
  • Hey, is that an open gate way over there? Let’s take off at ludicrous speed.
  • Did you guys know we can dance? Check this out.
  • Is that a horse? Wow, I’ve never seen one before.

Honestly, cows that are handled well behave well, but that doesn’t mean “those” days don’t exist. The key to dealing with those days is kind of like dealing with our significant others.

If you need to get something done, you might need to make them think it is their idea.

In other words, give a little nudge. Wait a little bit. Exercise a bit of patience and sprinkle with peace. Not always, but quite often, the cows will head the direction you want them to head when they think it is their idea to go there.

This also applies to teenagers. We once had a conversation in our house that went something like this:

Me: “What if you tried to put a piece of wood right there to balance that out?”

Teen: Blank face

Me: Blank face

Teen: “Forget it, nothing will work.”

(30 minutes later after a snack and a breath of fresh air)

Teen: “I think I’ll put a piece of wood right there and balance it out.”

Me: Say nothing! Inside I’m thinking, “Wow, what a great idea.”

(This situation has been altered so as not to reveal the identity of any specific teenager.)

Since I’m writing this, it is quite easy for me to make it sound like I perpetually offer grand ideas. While I would like this to be true, the reality is I am also good at messing up and needing someone to make me think something I need to do is a good idea. I suppose it is human nature.

And bovine nature.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go bake. Someone mentioned the smell of muffins, and well, now that I am feeling better, baking does seem like a good idea.   end mark