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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Cow Tales

Chuck Hinman: Cow Tales. Chuck tells about grazing, herding, Roly Poly bugs, and unwanted visitors.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Weaning A Baby Calf Off Its Mother

By Chuck Hinman

Cow Tales

Having spent the first twenty years of my life on our farm in southeastern Nebraska, you would think I would have some good cow tales. I did and I do.

The only cow on our farm I specifically remember was a Holstein cow with a bad disposition. She was properly named 'Crazy Heifer.' She refused to be milked and we had to use 'kickers' on her to keep her from kicking the milk bucket clear out of the barn.


Grazing cows along the road

During the drought years of the 1930s, the pasture dried up and we took the cows and let them graze the grass on a section line road nearby where there was little auto traffic. It was a boring job with a stint in the morning and again in the afternoon. Our folks had an extensive library of good books for a farm family. Dad and Mom were college educated -- also somewhat unusual for a farm family. I don't know how many times I read "The Shepherd of the Hills" by Harold Bell Wright, while herding cows. The story was popularized in later years in an outdoor theater at Branson, Missouri. I felt like I knew the characters personally, I had read the book so many times.

One day while herding the cows I found a twenty-dollar bill laying on the road. I could hardly wait to take the cows home and share the good news. Mom made the mistake of telling my good fortune on the party line and with the 'rubberers' listening, news spread rapidly and a neighbor, Bus Norris, called saying he had lost it while riding his motorcycle. He gave me a one dollar finder's fee and we were both happy.

Grazing cows on rented pasture land

At another time, Dad rented some pasture land from a neighbor for our milk cows. No more herding, but my brother Bob and I and Dad had to load the milking equipment in our Model T jalopy and drive a couple miles to the pasture to milk those danged milk cows twice a day. We didn't have the luxury of putting the cows' heads in stanchions so they would at least stand still while we milked them. We had to chase them all over the pasture getting a little milk here, and then when the cow moved -- a little milk there.

You will understand how I lost my taste for milk over the years.

Roly Poly bugs and cow droppings

All of my education didn't take place in Good Hope Rural School District 122. While embellishing this email with simulated cow droppings which seemed to be everywhere, I remembered that while herding the cows there were these Roly Poly bugs -- usually in pairs and they would find fresh droppings of cow manure and these bugs being 'kids at heart' would want to make 'poop balls' (we Nebraska cow herders called them). They were never bigger than a large Bubble Gum and those Roly Poly bugs would stand on their hind feet and roll those poop balls for seemingly miles -- I always wondered where they ended up and for what purpose. When you don't have much to do while herding cows on a hot summer morning -- anything is a pleasant diversion. Know what I mean. Guess it beat watching TV which didn't come along for 20 years.

When you have to go

An embarrassing experience I haven't forgotten to this day. While herding the cows one summer morning I had a terrible urge to go to the bathroom. I was too far from home to put it off -- so I did what any ten year old farm boy would have done -- I pulled down my overalls and squat -- behind a clump of Nebraska goldenrod -- and 'let her fly.' Unfortunately a neighbor drove by -- caught me with my pants down -- and stopped to 'visit -- and taunt me.' Didn't like that guy to this day. I imagine he is dead by now.

Cow antics and seeking thrills

My niece, Nancy York of Fairbury, Nebraska, has some cow tale experiences of her own as she writes:

"I think of all the money people spend on rides at amusement parks, carnivals, fairs, etc. If every child could only experience the joy of a cow's hind foot in the pocket of their chore coat, it would seem the thrill seeking would come to an end. Team that up with a frozen nasty tail across the face on a sub-zero morning and who could ask for more? I guess we all have precious memories."

What more is there to say?

Glimpse at Chuck's inspirations

[Part of this story from an email beginning with the following paragraph]:

Hi Joanne, keep forgetting to thank you for the cute Valentine's Day card. Have to keep slapping my hands to keep from eating that cow's chocolate lips. Your remark that you "didn't want me to forget those milk cows of 70 years ago" brought me to remember some interesting things from those days.

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Saturday, 15 February 2003



This story was posted on 2014-06-08 04:52:11
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