Although the majority of my childhood I resided within the city limits of our small town, my dad had a farm about 20 minutes outside of town and I LOVED it! There he maintained about 30 head of cattle (they had bodies too, but for some reason cattle farmers only count the heads) and I had a small pony named, Black Beauty (she already had this name when I acquired her, otherwise it would have been a way more original name). The thing I loved most about the farm is that I got to be Dad’s little farmhand. No matter what I saw or experienced, I made every effort not to show an ounce of repulsion (take my word for it, there are MANY opportunities for being repulsed on a farm). I watched unflinching as the horn buds were burnt off a baby calves. As a witness to calf castration, I didn’t waiver as my dad cut into the ball-sacks, removed the testicles with his hands and flung the bloody stringy mess into a bucket. It would take a lot more than a bucket of bloody cow balls to turn this tough tomboy into a sniffling sissy. However, if I thought I couldn’t be broken, I was as wrong as any six-year old farmhand had ever been.
Dad received a phone call one evening that one of his cows had gotten out and had been hit by a car. As he pulled on his boots, I started pleading to go along. He reluctantly agreed, probably more out of desperation to shut me up rather than him recognizing me as a valuable sidekick. Regardless, I climbed in his truck and buckled up for the ride-Note: I didn’t really buckle up. Nobody buckled up back then. I am pretty sure that I never saw anyone actually use a seatbelt until I was in middle school and I am certain I thought it to be complete overkill in the safety department.
We arrived at scene of the accident and Dad pulled to the side of the road, as I started to follow him, he stopped me and said those dreaded words, “You need to stay in the truck,” and he shut the door. I couldn’t believe he was leaving me out of all the excitement. There was little time to sulk; I had to survey the scene. From my vantage point in the truck I could see a small white car on the opposite side of the road and a man walking toward my dad. I didn’t see a cow. My only experience with road-kill had been seeing small critters flattened in the streets or bloated like furry balloons on the side of the highway. My dad and the man had moved to the side of the road and as Dad knelt down, I could see that there was a cow lying in the ditch. I couldn’t tell if it was moving or not, but I knew it was bad.
Dad made his way back to the truck and opened the door and I started firing off questions about the condition of the cow, which went unanswered. Oblivious to my escalating irritation, Dad reached behind the seat of his truck and pulled out his gun. I shut up. I watched as he pulled out a box of ammunition and reinstructed me to, “Stay in the truck.” I watched eagerly out the window. I chided an unheard warning to the stranger, “My dad is going to shoot you for hurting his cow. “ Then I watched and waited.
I screamed in horror as I realized that my dad’s gun wasn’t trained on the cow mangler. This could not be happening! He should totally be helping the cow and shooting the dumb guy who wasn’t smart enough to stop for a giant farm animal in the middle of the road!! Nothing was making sense to me. WHY WAS HE SHOOTING THE COW??? Dad seemed to be confused about why I was upset and tried to comfort me by explaining how he couldn’t allow the cow to suffer (like jerking their balls out wasn’t a form of suffering). Dad wasn’t used to his trusty farm buddy to be sniffling and snotting like a little girl. My tears were making me even more flustered and I eventually gave up trying to make him understand that I was sad that the cow had to die but I was furious that he had not avenged the cow by shooting the man!
My life has come full circle and I now live in close proximity to a variety of farm animals. Should you happen out my way, please drive carefully and watch out for cows! There is a chance that I could have long suppressed dose of bovine justice just waiting to be served.