Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mom and Me vs THE COW

Being the baby is hard work!
My very first memory occurred when I was two. To tell the truth, I’m not sure if it is a real memory, or if I simply heard my mother tell the story so often that I have pieced it together from that.
Whichever. It is very real to me now.
I had my new red cowboy boots on, and very little else. I was ready for anything. Dad was out in the blacksmith shop and I knew he would be happy to see me. Certainly, I would be happy to see him. I decided to make the journey. But there was a fence and a large barnyard between us.
Oh, and a milk cow.
It was the custom in those days to take the calf away from the milk cow and only put the two of them together morning and evening, after the cow had been milked. That way, the cow’s production stayed high, we were assured a constant supply of milk, and the calf received enough milk to ensure its proper growth. A good system all around, except that one usually ended up with a rather irate, over-protective full-grown mama cow wandering at will in the barnyard. No problem. If you were an adult, or very fast.
I was neither.
Having been raised to nearly three on a ranch, I was fully confident of my ability to speak cow. I walked over to the fence, put my face against the bars of the gate and proceeded to bellow impressively. I don’t know what I said, but it must have been something truly insulting because the cow wasn’t impressed. In fact, she began to make noises of her own. And then she started running feints at the gate. Being two, I thought she was merely trying to amaze me. I continued to ‘talk’. She continued to react.
It was a fair dialogue. We were communicating.
Finally, in a positive froth, she pounded over to the barn, to make sure that her baby was still in his pen, unharmed. The way was clear for me to climb the fence and cross the no-man’s land that was the barn yard. I proceeded to do so. I probably made it a few yards before she hit me. I don’t remember much about that part. My mother definitely takes over the story from there.
She had been working in the kitchen and keeping an eye on me through the window. Suddenly, as with any toddler, I disappeared. She didn’t waste time in searching. She knew instinctively where I had gone. She started out on the run, spotting me just as I dropped down from the fence in triumph.
On the cow side.
Mom’s sight was obscured for a few moments as she ran. Trees. Sweat. Whatever. By the time she again had me in her sights, I was down and the cow was turning for a return engagement.
Somehow she was able to put herself into ‘super-mom’ mode and leap the fence at a single bound. (Actually, I think she opened the gate and ran through, but this sounds better.) She reached me just ahead of the black and white frenzy, who was not pleased to place second. Mom scooped me up and screamed for my Dad, while the cow proceeded to try to knock me out of her arms. For a few seconds, Mom avoided the angry, gesticulating cow by spinning, pirouetting gracefully.
There was some real ‘bull-fighter’ potential in my mother.
But soon, the cow tired of the performance and changed tempos. She decided that the best way to the child was through the mother. Fortunately this new ‘barn dance’ with me at the centre was cut short by the arrival of my enraged father.
That’s the part I wish I could remember. When anyone, or anything, was threatening one of his children, my dad would . . . well let me put it this way. Two words. Mount Vesuvius. In work boots. Needless to say, in short order, the cow forgot all about her ongoing discussion with me and was headed for the nearest far-away place with her tail tucked – figuratively speaking – between her legs, and I was being closely examined by not one, but two anxious parents. My only injury was a red cowboy boot crushed flat. The foot inside miraculously survived.
Another day, another adventure.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, what a story to tell! Thank goodness you were not hurt. I can't imagine. Thanks for linking up to NOBH.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OHR: I think I'm made of rubber. That's the only explanation! Thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete

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