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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Monday, July 21, 2014

Do Not Attempt This At Home

Okay, yes, this is me. Ignore the glasses et al.
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 mention 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.
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 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.
Chris heard the satisfying *crunch* of pro-activity.
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.

16 comments:

  1. Ow ow ow ow ow! Poor Chris!

    Smiling over the label yet again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P. S. I had those glasses except they were blue, and pointier at the corners, but otherwise, those exact glasses :p

      Delete
    2. Not her best moment! :) Ha! See? The glasses prove it. We ARE kindred spirits!

      Delete
  2. Who knew? LOL I'll bet she knew after that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A stern and never-to-be-forgotten lesson for sure! :)

      Delete
  3. I remember Chris attempting to wash her 4H calves in the milking stancions and drawing the wrath of one of the hired hands. There was an altercation where Chris attempted (with little success) to kick the hired man in the leg. Maybe she should've tried a karate chop instead...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm . . . I believe you're right . . .

      Delete
  4. Ouch - I felt the karate chop through my computer! I can only imagine what your parents had to say about that one...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was much tsk-ing and head shaking for sure!

      Delete
  5. Oh, how I loved this one. You write with such a flare. The mental pictures are so entertaining. LOL on this one.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, LeAnn! My work here is done! :)

      Delete
  6. karate chopping a cow? That's new.
    What exactly does 4-H stand for? 4 what? H what?
    I've often heard it, but never understood it. I did recently find out that FFA means Future Farmers of America, not Freedom Fighters of America as I had thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we 'Future Farmers' would have agreed that it probably should be 'Freedom Fighters'! :)
      The 4-H pledge was: I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service, My Health to better living, For my club, my community and my country. So, head, hands, heart and health.

      Delete
  7. Those casts hurt! My daughter caught her fingers in the car door after being told not to shut the door after I had just thrown thenkeys to those doors in thd bottom of my diaper bag sized purse. Long story short. Three broken fingers in a cast the somehow ended up busting every household member in the mouth at least once some like myself even more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ouch!
      I remember the first night with my cast. I rolled over and clocked my Husby in the head. Oops . . .

      Delete

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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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