Sunday, January 29, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 29th Installment

stanchion. “At least we’re smarter than this mass of utter destructive meanness. Let’s try the hobbles.” Big mistake. We gave Spot an extra helping of hay, and when she seemed calm; we hooked the hobble to her tendon on the back of the left leg and carefully brought the chain around the front and dropped the other hook on the right leg tendon.
Okay, that was easy,” Russ said “I'll milk her this time.” He did and she stood for it as she would do sometimes. Milking done I started to take off the hobbles. They were a bit tight so as I pulled and pushed Spot decided I was up to no good and decided to kick me out of her life. The chain tightened, the cow panicked, and the rodeo was on. The cow couldn't separate her legs to kick, but not for the lack of trying. She went ballistic – head trapped in the stanchion and back legs chained together – thrashing, jerking, jumping and bellowing. The chain cut into her flesh, and the hooks pierced into her tendons, but the damage only made her more panicked; and the harder she fought, the more we panicked. Spot, fighting on three legs, with a final jump and bellow went down stretching her neck in the vice–like lower part of the stanchion. She was not bellowing anymore because she wasn't breathing. The hobbles were tight, steel against flesh, and we couldn't get them released. Russ and I stared at each other, our eyes betraying our anxiety. We really didn't want to kill Spot! We’d have to face the real fear of explaining to the Old Man how we killed one of our milk cows. I went after the hobbles but to no avail. Russ was jerking on the stanchion release lever, and as luck would have it, the stanchion snapped open. Spot twisted her head out and with a huge suck of air tried to get up. During one of her rocking heaves to get her legs under her, there was a moment when the chain was loose, and I was able to unhook the hobble. Spot gained her feet and bolted out of the barn with nothing but a slight limp to show for her near–death experience.

            A few months later, our little dairy farm had Cal–Ranch install the newest innovation in modern machinery – an automatic milking machine. The milking chores were easier after that and a bit more fun. Wouldn't you know, after several times that the temperamental Spot used her sweeping kick to gather up the new–fangled milking machine and fling it against the back of the barn, the Old Man got rid of the cow. Goodbye (and good riddance), old Spot.

Chapter 6
         We could tell winter was closing in because of the steady stream of hunters showing up: first the pheasant hunters, next the Canadian goose hunters, then the deer or elk hunters with their rifles in the rear window gun

500 more words tomorrow

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