It was probably 1974, that day when my little brother and I were playing in the pasture behind the barn. I was skipping pebbles across the creek (pronounced: crick, in this story). My little brother was shooting pebbles at the backside of a Holstein heifer.
I wasn’t paying attention to my brother. I considered neither he nor the heifer to be any of my concern. It was a childish presumption.
The heifer bellowed at him, but that wasn’t any of my business. I had stones to skip. They could work out their disagreements on their own.
I didn’t notice my brother go under the barbed wire fence and up into the barn. I was alone with the heifer, and she was still nursing a grudge against human children and their pebbles.
Somehow, the heifer imagined that pebbles were still hitting her. And since there was a nearby human child with pebbles in hand, she concluded that I was the culprit and should be chastised.
When I looked up from my experiments, I discovered her bearing down upon me.
A heifer is not large for a cow, but she is plenty large for a little boy. I ran toward the fence. If I could slide beneath the bottom row of wire before she caught me, I’d be safe.
I almost made it.
I was within arm’s reach of the fence when she knocked me on my back. Before I could shimmy under the wire, she pinned me, her head planted firmly upon my chest.
I still don’t know if she intended to kill me or merely teach me a lesson. She was still a young’un too, so maybe she hadn’t figured that out for herself yet. At the time, I felt doomed.
I tried to scream my fool head off, but it wasn’t easy with her squishing me like a bug. It was hard to breath, let alone scream. My whole life passed before my eyes. I was seven; it was a short film.
I remember seeing the sky, which was where I supposed Heaven was, so at least I’d get a good look at where I was headed. My little brother would get to stay here and play in the creek. Life was so unfair.
Just when it seemed like Heaven was the only exit, I slid beneath the fence. I didn’t do this under my own power, as I was completely powerless. I was dragged under the fence by an arm or leg and carried away by my father. I don’t know how he got there, but I am older and wiser because he did.
The heifer was, no doubt, disappointed at being robbed of her kill. I probably got spanked for antagonizing the livestock, but when you’ve cheated death, a spanking is practically a treat.
One day I will tell my boys this story. They don’t live on a farm, but they can still take a valuable lesson from it: Whether it’s with bovines or the girls at school, you can always count on a brother to leave you in an awkward situation.
You’re an extremely lucky lad if your dad can get you out of it.