Saturday, May 09, 2009
Mad Cow Chronicles--A Good Idea Gone Bad
It made sense, on the surface. They had a bum calf. They had a cow that had just lost a calf. Why not put the two together? Perhaps because the cow in question was the meanest thing on the ranch. Still, with two riders on two big, strong mares, how tough could it be to get her into the corral? Once there, they could run her into the squeeze chute, drop the kick plate and let the calf have a go at her. So they set out to wrangle the cow, Dad on Tara, Mom on Myla. The mares were sisters, both out of my mom's former barrel horse, and as tough as they come. The only small issue was that Tara tended to be a little humpy, and the wind was especially chilly that day, and she was primed for an opportunity to buck. The cow threw up her head, blew snot, and stood her ground. She took a run at first one horse, then the other. Finally, Dad roped her. Tara crow-hopped some, but the cow was alternately trying to knock her over and drag her down the coulee, so she buckled down. Dad snubbed the cow up on a short rope. They mashed her between the two horses with no room to maneuver and shoved her into the corral. To their surprise, she zipped right down the alley and into the chute. Dad slammed the head gate. Mission accomplished! The hard part was done. Now to put the calf on her. About that time, the cow realized her mistake and commenced to bellowing and ramming around, rocking the chute from side to side. The calf took one look at her, gave Mom and Dad an 'Are you nuts?' look, and went and hid in the farthest corner of the corral. Luckily, they were prepared. Dad whipped out a syringe and a bottle of tranquilizer. A little Acepromazine and she'd settle right down. He gave her the usual dose. They waited. She continued her attempts to dismember the chute. Obviously, the adrenalin in her system was counteracting the tranqulizer. Maybe just a little more... The cow rumbled around for a few more minutes, but slowly began to calm. Then her eyes rolled back in her head and she dropped like a rock--wedged in the chute. They didn't dare leave her like that. They spent the next forty-five minutes dismantling the chute. Once her head was free of the squeeze, they tried to roll her out. No chance. She was a big, beefy cow, and they couldn't budge her. Dad got his rope, put it around her front legs, and climbed on Tara. He dallied up and kicked. Tara hit the end of the rope, bore down hard...and the saddle slipped. The mare had had enough. She broke in two and went to bucking. Dad managed to hang on to his dallies just long enough to yank the cow free of the chute. Then he let loose and concentrated on saving his own life. About the time he got his horse under control, the cow came to. She staggered to her feet and stood there, weaving and shaking her head like a drunk who just woke up behind a dumpster on skid row. The calf lifted his head. She blew snot at him and pawed the ground. Which was when they opened the corral gate and kicked her out into the pasture, where they agreed they should have had enough sense to leave her in the first place.