Thanks for the exercise |

Thanks for the exercise

Way back when I was still agile and my reflexes still functioned, I made the mistake of agreeing to help my neighbor, Agnes, work some cattle.

“I’ve got two heifers that are having trouble trying to calve. Also, I need to doctor a bull that has a bad eye,” she stated. “But first we have to bring them into the corral from the pasture. “On foot,” she said. “But the bull is gentle. Shouldn’t be any trouble. And,” she added — a bit smugly, I thought, “It’ll be good exercise for you.”

Bringing the heifers into the corral was relatively easy. But the Angus bull — an animal Agnes had raised from calf-hood — hung back.

“He’s friendly,” said Agnes. “You can walk right up and pet him if you want. Just push him on through if you want.”


I didn’t want, but I stood at the gate while Mr. Bull moseyed my way. He paused, sniffed my gloved hand that rested on the cross bar, blinked and ambled onward into the corral. Oh, good, I thought, and turned to close the gate behind him which placed me in a perfect position for bullish fun. As I turned back to close the aforementioned gate, I failed to see what happened. With what the critter no doubt considered a playful bullish action, he tipped forward on his front feet like a poodle dog. You’d have thought he was practicing high kicks for the circus. Unfortunately, one of his high-flying cloven hooves caught me smack in my right gluteus maximus. The words that subsequently fell from my lips hung over the corral in a floating blue cloud.

Agnes only laughed and instructed me to personally herd a heifer toward a strawed down stall in the calving shed. Exerting an aerobics jog, I managed to influence the bovine into the stall. I could see two little feet protruding from the animal’s southern exposure.

“Yikes,” said Agnes, “the calf is coming backwards. We’ll have to pull it.”

“We?” I said, “I’ll just stay put and watch.”

“No,” she ordered, “come in here. You’ll have to help me pull.”

With some reluctance, I followed her commands. “She’s gentle,” Agnes claimed, which should have been a clue. My right rear cheek was still in pain from where I’d been thumped by the “gentle” bull.

The heifer, in obvious stress lay down on the straw. Agnes and I slid to the floor as well and each of us grasped a calf leg. Timing our tugging with the heifer’s contractions, we exerted a steady pull. Everything worked according to plan. The calf slid free. It was breathing.

Agnes and I exchanged congratulatory exclamations. Pride goeth before a fall. In this case it wenteth before one of Mama heifer’s hind feet shot backward. Agnes dodged. I, however, received an excruciating smack on my left arm which sent me rolling — aerobically — backwards.

Not wanting to complain (mainly because I was having trouble taking a deep breath) I assisted with the second heifer — a much easier delivery. For which I was grateful.

Finally finished with “helping Agnes,” I hobbled to my pickup and very carefully climbed in. Then I drove away — steering with my one operational arm and hand.

For a week, I walked with a gimp and couldn’t pick up anything heavier than a toothpick with my left upper appendage. My bruises acquired an interesting rainbow color and my attitude vacillated between cranky and real hostile.

Later, Agnes phoned to say, “Thanks for the help.”

“You’re welcome,” I replied, “and thank you for the exercise …” ❖

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