Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cow Tipping Stories Are Bull

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I have raised many farm animals. Tipping over anything bigger than a chicken is very hard and even chickens are hard to tip. Ticking off farm animals is easy, though. Try wandring around my horses' pasture.

From the London Times:
IT IS the kind of story you hear from a friend of a friend — how, after a long night in a rural hostelry and at a loss for entertainment in the countryside, they head out into a nearby field.

There, according to the second-hand accounts, they sneak up on an unsuspecting cow and turn the poor animal hoof over udder.

But now, much to the relief of dairy herds, the sport of cow-tipping has been debunked as an urban, or perhaps rural, myth by scientists at a Canadian university.
Aw, we can't con city slickers into trying to push a cow over! What fun it has been, watching people run from angry cattle! Even a lowly milch kuh can run impressively fast if she is motivated and chasing humans is great motivation. Don't even ask about the bulls!

Chris and I used to have one of the world's biggest oxen. They were truly Babe the Blue Ox in size, they towered over me and my husband's head barely cleared their shoulders and he is over six feet tall. They weighed over a ton and a half each and required a full sized cattle car to ferry them around. Mostly, they walked in tandem.

When you push against an animal, awake or asleep, they always push back. The harder you push at them the more they lean into you! Sparky, the smaller draft horse, specialized in this. The ferrier would yell at him because he loved to lean on everyone, a crushing weight. I would slap him for this, he is not allowed to lean on me. He also loved to "accidentally" step on feet when we got him, he would even grind his hoof into the foot, he really liked hearing people scream. I trained him to stop doing that.

Don't ask how.

Anyway, the sheep: they, too, were hard to push around. If I wanted them to go somewhere, the most futile way to move them was to push. Having Coleen, the sheep dog, bark at them and rush their hindquarters worked, mostly I would bang on their grain bucket and yell, "Lambies, to me!"

To move Chip and Dale's 3 tons of mass, aside from the happy grain bucket, was to take a little stick with a string tied to it and lightly whap them with it saying, "Come on up, boys!" and they would then blink and begin lumbering along. Usually, all we had to do was say, "Come with me, guys," and they would happily follow.

Their favorite amusements were to take those huge round bales of hay that weigh over 300lbs, hook them with the horns and roll them around. Best was to roll them onto Greenhollow Road and stop traffic. Better than that was to knock the fence down, stroll to the village and stand shoulder to shoulder on Rt 22. Even semis couldn't influence the boys. They would happily chew their cuds until the State Troopers show up and then lowing happily, turn and lumber back up the mountain, swinging their tails. Never did the State Troopers push them.

I remember the news about a man who honked his truck horn at an elephant parade. One of them got mad at him and flipped his truck, then stomped on it. The oxen I had could do the same, namely, tip over trucks with their horns. All they had to do was brush past something big to knock it down. The only reason their stables stood was because they were very very careful. At first, they would knock down walls but then I would scold them and show them their feeding troughs were now under debrie and no grain for them! They would look mournfully at me and moo. After a few such episodes they were very careful when in their home. The horse used to reach over through the air space above the stalls to annoy them. They would hook their horns right at the top of the roof to see if they could snag Sparky who wanted to steal the brass balls on their horns. This fight over the brass balls would wake us up at night and I would have to come out and scold all of them. They couldn't understand. After all, they don't really sleep! Like giant teens.

Sparky could push Chip and Dale around. He did this stallion-style, namely, he would rear up and bite them on the top of their long necks. This really annoyed them because they couldn't hit him with the horns from behind. They used to try hitting us sideways with the horns but we trained them to stop that, too.

Don't ask how.

If you did, I would talk for hours about how to raise oxen or tame horses.

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