Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Professionals. Do Not Attempt This At Home


Okay, yes, this is me. But that is a genuine 4-H calf behind me.
See that head? Solid bone.

Have I ever mentioned that cows have a head comprised mostly of bone?
Seriously.
Their head is 99 % bone.
With a tiny little space for a walnut-sized brain.
Okay, well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Their head can go through most anything.
Fences.
Doors.
Walls.
People.
You get them running and I swear they could go through solid concrete.
And laugh about it with their friends later.
That head is a force to contend with.
You get upwards of 2000 pounds of hair and hoofs going.
With a battering ram for a head.
And anything is possible.
And we puny little humans have to deal with these animals.
On a daily basis.
You want to talk about bravery?
True statistic: Dairy bulls kill more people annually than the grizzly bear.
Mind you, Dairy bulls usually have sharp, pointy things on that solid-bone head.
How can we make the situation just a bit more dangerous?
Put sharp, pointy things on it.
Where was I?
Oh yes.
Cow heads.
And puny humans.
On to my story . . .
Every fall, the eldest siblings in the Stringam household would happily show up for the organizational meeting of the Milk River 4-H Beef Club.
It was a highlight of the year.
They would then go out to the corral with Dad and choose a suitable calf to register in said club.
Then the work started.
I should remind you here, that I never really got involved in the whole ‘work’ part of the scenario.
That’s what brothers are for.
Moving on . . .
My oldest sister, Chris was a lot more ‘hands-on’ than her younger sibling.
So to speak.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Ahem . . .
She would go out and wash her calf.
Talk to it.
Put a halter on it and attempt to drag it around.
It was while attempting this last that she came to grief.
And pain.
Chris had been trying to train her calf (And I use this term lightly. Something the animal wasn’t.) to lead.
An important skill when you plan to have the animal in a show ring.
The calf wasn’t cooperating.
Chris pulled and pushed.
The calf also pulled and pushed.
In the opposite direction.
Chris became frustrated.
In an attempt to get the animal’s attention, she shaped her hand into the patented, TV-approved karate hold and . . . chopped.
Remember what I said about solid bone?
That would apply here.
You’ve heard the caution: Professional karate chopper. Do not attempt this at home.
Or something similar.
Well, such warnings should be heeded.
Chris heard the satisfying *crunch* of bone.
For a brief (very brief) moment, she thought, ‘Ha! Got you!’
Then the pain started.
Chris spent the next weeks in a cast to her elbow.
Cursing the thick-headedness of cattle in general.
And her 4-H calf in particular.
We thought it was funny.
We never let her know, though.
Because ironically, though that hand, cast-less, couldn’t make much of a dent in a solid bone calf head, that same hand, cast-ed, was a weapon of world class destruction.
Just FYI.


14 comments:

  1. Hubs paternal grandfather was killed by a bull. Squished between said bull and a fence. Not a nice way to go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. Deaths by bull aren't nearly as well broadcast as those by Grizzly bear. But there are lots more of them. All sad.

      Delete
  2. I remember when Chris had her calves in the milk stantions attempting to wash them. The hired mad came in and told her that she couldn't use the stantions because the floorboards were getting slippery thus making it impossible for the cows to be able to stand whilst milking them. He then removed the hose, picked up the bucket and carried them outside to the hydrant beside the hog pen. That's the first time I ever saw Chris throw a teenaged tantrum; it was funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there for the whole thing. He was such a jerk! Chris kicked him in the behind. But that's another blog . . .

      Delete
  3. :-) I love how you tell a story!

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well Diane, I seriously see I was raised in the city... lol... I never would have made it out alive in the country... hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often wonder how any of us made it out alive!

      Delete
  5. Diane, I wonder if Chris would have used her "cast-ed" hand to karate chop any of you if she had found out! I had no idea that cow heads were so tough. If you ask me, anyone working with these ladies is brave indeed! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truth to tell, she did threaten us with it. My little brother was just reminiscing about how he got 'tapped' in the head because he told her she wasn't the boss of him! :)

      Delete
  6. Oh, your poor sister!

    I swear, we vow that "this is our last year!" every year when we are trying to get one lazy son to go out and train his steer! We had a good laugh a couple of days ago though...

    Colten has only gone out and washed his steer a couple of times since school got out, but he takes it and puts it in the chute to wash it. A couple of days ago they turned the steers out into the pasture for a few hours and Brian comes in and tells me to look out the window. I looked out and there was Colten's steer, standing in the chute. He went in all by himself. We got a good laugh out of it and told Colten he needed to get out there cause his baby wanted a bath.

    Now, is that trained or what!? ha ha

    ReplyDelete
  7. That IS trained. And totally hilarious! You've obviously got smarter cattle than we do . . .

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh boy.
    I would never do that and I'd also be watching the hooves lol

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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