Cows are more athletic than most people think. They are also usually pretty sensible. But every once in a while they do something really weird.
This is number 601, veteran of five calving seasons, steady mama, six years in the herd without incident.
Until last Tuesday.
We had just finished separating cows from calves in preparation for branding and vaccinating the little ones, when a passing ranch hand let us know we had a cow with a high-center problem. We dropped our syringes and branding irons and ran to help.
We don’t know what possessed this cow to take up the sport of high-jumping. But her labored breathing and frantic leg thrashing told us she was in a world of hurt. Her hind legs, stuck through the gate rungs, were in danger of snapping.
What to do?
Our cattle manager had the wit to thrust a piece of plywood between the cow’s back hooves and the gate, then clip the wires holding the gate panel to the fence. We slowly tipped the panel forward to the ground. Number 601 scrambled off, huffing for breath, drooling, wild-eyed, and looking like a candidate for a bovine psych ward.
As we tried to edge closer to assess any damage, Number 601 eyed us as if we were the cause of her troubles and galloped off to the far side of the corral. That’s gratitude for you.