Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crazy Cow #2006

This story is a family favorite. It sounds like a tall-tale or maybe exaggerated a bit, but it's all true. Sometimes city folk have a rose-colored view of cows being all calm and lazy, chewing their cud and swishing flies with their tails, friendly as can be. Well, ok, I’m sure there are lots of cows like that in the world. But not our cows. Beef cattle are not as placid and docile as, say, dairy cattle. Dairy cows are handled every day, twice a day, and therefore are usually more calm and easygoing. Ok, ok, I’ve never actually met a dairy cow, so I’m just hypothesizing here. Beef cattle, on the other hand, are handled by humans less frequently, and spend most of their lives out on the range, away from humans and surviving on their own. Hence, they tend to be a bit more, let’s say, jumpy. Or spooky. Or nervous around humans. Older cows can sometimes settle down a bit, once they learn you’re not going to kill them (boy, are they wrong about that!). However, every once in awhile you’ll get a cow that is just downright crazy.
 I was not present when this story took place and neither was Clayton, so I’m writing this story using compiled information given to me by my brothers-in-law, Joseph and Cameron. Thanks guys! Here it goes:
The Crazy Cow #2006, a wild and crazy tale of a tale
 Grandpa and Grandma Sagers were working on a watering trough in a field in Pine Canyon. The field contained approximately a dozen yearling calves. Now, Grandpa Sagers, as you might have read about before, was hardworking yet stubborn and independent. He had been warned by his sons that he needed to take someone besides Grandma with him to help make sure the cows didn’t escape. There was an area of fence that hung over a ditch, and the cows could slip underneath it through the ditch if they were not carefully watched. Grandpa, being the kind of guy that he was, told Larry that he was taking Joel with him, and told Joel that he was taking Larry. Way to go, Grandpa! Show those young whipper-snappers who is boss! However, it turns out that it might have been helpful to have someone else with them, as those cunning cows found the gap in the fence and slipped out past Grandma.
So the boys get called to come help, probably much to Grandpa’s chagrin as he had to admit that he had done what they warned him not to do, and an assortment of cousins and uncles gather to help round up the cows and usher them back into the field. They get this accomplished and do a quick head-count, and realize that one of the yearlings is missing. They quickly located the renegade cow, which wasn’t too far away, and Cameron volunteered to go after her. Cameron was at the time the captain of the cross-country team and was in pretty good shape. He figured to run a broad circle around the cow and get her turned around, but the cow had different ideas. She saw him coming and turned around and ran off.  Cameron chases her for a good amount of time, and sees a barb wire fence coming up and thinks to himself,”I’ve got her now!” When all of a sudden, the cow runs smack dab into the tightly strung wire fence, bounces off, and almost sits down on her rear end from the impact. Cameron laughs.
The chase goes on, but by this time it’s starting to get dark, and it’s kinda hard to see a black cow in the dark. I know, I’ve done it before. So Cameron is picked up by some cousins on a Jeep wielding spotlights, and they leave the cow for the night.
Enter the next day. Various family members drive around looking for the cow, and finally spot her in a field nearly a mile away from where this all started. They decide to go get the family horses, Rojo and Trinket, so that they can try to keep up with this crazy bovine.  Joseph rides Trinket and Joel rides Rojo. Within moments of them mounting the horses, the cow, nearly 300 yards away, stands up and starts sprinting away. Joel, ever wise and usually patient, says “Just let her calm down. She’ll calm down once we get up to her.” They calmly approach the cow at a trot and decide to try to herd her along the fence line. That’s one of the nice things about cows, is that generally speaking, they have a tendency to follow fence lines. So you can use the fence as a third person while you are herding them. It comes in handy. UNLESS your cow decides to stop, look at the fence, lower its head, and proceed to plow right through it. Which this cow did. Unbelievable. She stumbled a bit from the impact, and probably from the barbs tearing through her hide, but regained her balance and took off like a formula one race car.
Well, the horses were not jumpers, and didn’t want to plow through the barb wire, so the boys had to go to the gate at the corner of the field in order to rejoin the cow. This they did, and the cow was still going strong, perhaps half of a mile away and determined to run until kingdom come. This time, when she encountered the next barb wire fence, she didn’t hesitate or even slow down before lowering her head and plowing though.  Two or three more fields of this, and the horses were pretty worn out. Every time the cow went through a field, the boys had to find a gate to let the horses through. They never even got within 100 yards of the darn thing. Once she reached the railroad tracks, she followed them west, heading straight for the main highway.
 By this time it was rush hour. The boys had lost sight of the crazy cow, so they’re not even sure how she crossed the highway within getting hit. I’m sure there was horn honking and much anger from the motorists. But somehow, she crossed the busy highway during rush hour without getting killed. The boys weren’t sure exactly where she was after that; they had to put away the weary horses and get back to vehicles to drive across the highway. They spotted her behind the newly built hospital, still headed west and still trotting. She was a good 3-4 miles away from the original site, and the stupid cow hadn’t even slowed down to a walk. She was bound and determined to put as many miles between them as possible.
 Grandpa Sagers says, “How about I go get my cart?” His “cart” was what he called his new four-wheeler. I’m sure most people would have thought long ago to get the four-wheeler in the first place. Call us old-fashioned, but we were new to the idea of using a four-wheeler for agricultural purposes and the boys had simply forgotten that Grandpa had bought it. So Grandpa drives back to town to get his “cart.” The boys stay behind to get a better idea of where the cow is headed. They drive to the top of the old landfill, and from this vantage point, they pull out the binoculars. They see the cow about a half mile away, still trotting, when to their disbelieving eyes, the cow comes to a sudden stop, looks right at them as if they were standing a few feet away instead of half a mile, then turns and takes off again at a dead run.
This is the point where Joel states that if he had a gun handy, the family would be eating steak for dinner. They knew the cow could not outrun a bullet. But alas, for want of a gun. The boys followed the cow into the field in their SUV. The cow was still running, but appeared to be getting tired. They eventually caught up to her and were driving her between the fence and the SUV. It seems that for once, she was actually following a fence line instead of plowing through it. She tried to jump over the hood of the vehicle to get away several times, which was helpful in wearing her out. Finally, she decided that she had had enough. She comes to a stop, at which time the vehicle stops and multiple cousins and relatives jump out to surround her. Her eyes were glazed and she had a long string of drool coming from her mouth and hanging halfway to the ground. She was tired, but apparently was not ready to give up the fight! She eyed one of the cousins and moved as if to charge him out of her way. Then, out of nowhere, a red “cart” comes flying into the circle and rams into the rear end of the charging cow. Grandpa saves the day! The cow spins 180 degrees and her hind feet are knocked out from under her. The boys all jump to get on her head and neck, and Grandpa decides that he’s not done yet, and drives up to park the four-wheeler on top of the cow. This cow ain’t going nowhere now!
Joel quickly ties up the back legs with some bailing twine, and then they hooked a chain around the cow’s neck and dragged her into the stock trailer. Once they got the chains and twine off her, she was on her feet like a pop-up book. Joseph says, “I have never seen a cow try to jump out of the trailer window before that day or since, but she tried with all her life.” Grandpa was convinced that he could calm her down if he could get into the trailer with her, but luckily, the boys persuaded him not to. She kept ramming the trailer walls as if trying to break them down.
 They hauled the renegade cow out to join the older cows in Stansbury in hopes that they might calm her down some. The instant that the trailer door was opened, she took off again like a thoroughbred race horse. But once she saw the other cows and realized that she wasn’t being chased, she stops running and trots calmly to join the herd.
This is definitely one cow adventure that our family will never forget.
Here is a lovely map of the chase area. I don't know if you can see the writing on it or not. The field where the cows escaped from is shown by the small white square in the upper/middle right side. The green dot above that and to the left is where they started the chase on the second day. And the green dot on the very left side is where the chase ended. Good times.


Millie said...

I've heard this story a few times but it never gets any less funny! Love it!

Millie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geoffrey said...

I remember many a day like this. Too bad for cows that they are so tasty, we might actually stop raising them.

Carla and crew said...

I'm sure non of those cowboys had a camera to take a photo of the "cart" on top of the poor cow! That might be one to re-enact, because I can't quite picture it in my mind!