Lessons from the great heifer attack of 1974

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.

In a better world

One day, we might have been friends, if not for the pebble incident.

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.

Dairyland thugs

A gang of young toughs, on the lookout for a fresh victim. (Image: Marion Post Wolcott/US Farm Security Administration)

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.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you that my client could not be guilty of the attempted murder of that boy as she is neither a Holstein nor a heifer."

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you that my client could not be guilty of the attempted murder of that boy as she is neither a Holstein nor a heifer.”

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.


11 comments on “Lessons from the great heifer attack of 1974

  1. Traci says:

    This reminds me of so many of my own bovine stories . . . I bet that’s not a comment you often see on your blog 🙂

  2. Well I finally know where the old saying “skipping stones will never hurt me, unless my brother is hitting a cow in the butt with his stones.” Or, was that just a saying in my family?

  3. Andrew says:

    This was like a Tom Clancy novel but with cows. My favorite line was – “My whole life passed before my eyes. I was seven; it was a short film.”

    I’ve never been to a farm other than a local petting zoo, but this was a great example of just being a kid. More of these please. Loved it.

    • Thanks. I’ll see what I can do. But those days are getting to be a long time ago, and my memory is suffering the years. On the bright side, I should begin acting like a very small child again someday soon.

  4. pieterk515 says:

    Dads are truly wonderful creatures, are we not?

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