Farm Sport
Summer 98

The more we attempt to be farmers the more I'm convinced we were not designed to be. Maybe all farmers spend 3 hours trying to catch a calf to castrate…only to discover it is a female. Or attempt to skin a skunk to make a hat on Saturday afternoon, much to the nasal discomfort of their fellow church goes on Sunday.

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to be farmers. There are just some things that you have to approach more as a sport than as a serious job. For my family farming is one of those things.

This past weekend my family attempted to give our 16 cows shots and ear tags. We got them all in the feed lot next to our boxcar barn. I was to separate them in the coral and send them through the head chute one at a time. Once they started toward the chute someone else would put boards behind them (so they couldn't back up) and they would be coached, coerced or if all else failed, just scared into putting their head into the lock so we could hold them still. My dad bought some special syringes to help speed up the process. They look kind of like a cross between a pistol, a needle, and the nozzle for a hose. I think they terrify cows more than the normal needle….they would scare me.

everything went ok until one cow decided not to stop with just putting her head through the lock and shoved a good portion of her body out as well. She ended up with her head stuck on the tailgate of the truck that my dad was using as a table. He quickly started the truck and pulled it forward (which fortunately didn't slit the cow’s throat). With the truck out of the way the cow decided that the only way to go was forward. It might not have been so bad except for the fact that when you jam a 3 foot wide cow through a 2.5 foot hole something will either get stuck or break. She didn't get stuck and she didn't break, but the headlock did.

While this was taking place I had trapped another cow behind the gate that we use to force them into the head chute. While my dad beat on the headlock with a pipe wrench, the cow I was containing began to panic. Right as my dad announced the lock fixed my cow put his head down and rushed the gate by the hinge where I was standing. He caught it with his head and threw it up off the hinges and tried to run by me. I grabbed the fence to keep from falling, but since he was still pushing the gate with me in front of it I burned two spots on my fingers with the fence. He then ran straight into another part of the fence and tore a hole in it and got out to the main pasture. For those of you that don’t know—cows can be very violent creatures.

We took a break while I cleaned up my hand and got some gloves. One of the burns had taken off skin to just above a vein in my finger, but it didn't break it. Two band-aids, two gloves and some hydrogen peroxide later we were back at work. We managed to get a couple more done and then another calf escaped. My dad went to get it. It waited until he got close, kicked him in the knee and ran off. Maria and I didn't see what had happened so when we looked over I couldn't figure out why my dad was dragging himself up the fence. Maria thought he was doing stretching exercises. After the kicking incident we decided the remaining cows could just die of worms if that is the way they felt about it! We carted off our wounded and retreated to the house.

The total score came to:


Cow's-4 plus two injuries to the Sheads giving the cows a total score of 6.

Nice try cows but we still won in this wonderful little sport we call farming.