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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Mad Cow


By Robin Weaver

A long time before Mad-Cow-Disease was a common term, there was a mad cow. Her name was Bitsie and the huge Guernsey hated me.

Enduring the endless feudal system known as farm life was dreary enough for a ten-year-old, but Bitsie asserted her strange moo-joe to make life even more hellish. Whenever I entered her domain (which was daily since I had to feed the bitch), she’d charge, full throttle, forcing me under a fence or up the nearest scrub pine. She’d wait at the bottom of the tree, daring me to come down as she idly chewed her cud.

Bitsie would conveniently depart just before my parents came home, thus forcing me to face the juvenile version of a firing squad—a.k.a. my mother—with no evidence. My attempts to explain the reason for unfinished chores fell on deaf ears. No one believed Bitsie actually harassed me, thus I become the “story teller” and the term “cowgirl” was applied in a less than flattering way.

“But I never lie,” I protested. And I didn’t.

Now because I was a paragon of virtue, but because when I was three-years-old, my grandmother told me, “If you fib one more time, the devil will come out of the ground and get you with his pitchfork.” That kind of thing stays with a person.

Ironically, Bitsie had no beef with anyone except me. Around other people, she personified the perfect cow, gentle and unassuming, as she switched her long tail at the flies circling her brown and white hide.

Things changed the minute we were alone. The Bovine charged with demonic energy, forcing my short legs into a long sprint to avoid her devilish hooves.

One day, everything changed. I’d been ordered to clear the brush in the lower field—a task I actually liked; the brush wasn’t heavy so while I piled it, I could daydream about fairy princesses and drinking milk from a store-bought carton. The catch-22: I had to venture into Bitsie’s domain, the dreaded pasture.

When I approached the gate, Bitsie came running. I froze. What a choice—get in trouble or get trampled?

Suddenly, the voice of doom sounded. “Get down there and clear that brush. Now!” Mom’s command was followed by the more dreaded, “Don’t make me come out there.”

She’d walked to the edge of the yard and had a clear view of the gate. I knew from experience, Bitsie wouldn’t attack with an audience, so I seized the opportunity to avoid both menaces and ran as fast as I could.

I hadn’t covered much ground (short legs, remember?) when I heard the door screen slam.

Uh-oh. Out of time.

 I looked over my shoulder and horror of horrors, Bitsie charged. With no tree in sight. I’m not Catholic but I made the sign of the cross.

Just when the thunder threatened to reduce me to manure. Whack!

I kept running, finally reaching a tree and shimming up the trunk. I didn’t look until I’d planted both feet on the second branch, about eight feet above the ground. I couldn’t imagine what magic had saved me.

My grandfather, armed with a two-by-four, circled around the grand dame of milk. Bitsie shook her head and stomped her front hooves. Gramps held firm, forcing the devil-cow into submission, as much with his will as with the big stick he so softly carried. I watched with a strange combination of fear and wonder. The beast-of-horror turned from my grandfather’s stare and trotted away.

Gramps had always been my favorite person. Now he loomed larger than livestock. Still, I didn’t come down from my lofty perch until Bitsie was far, far away. Gramps took my hand and together we walked back to confront my second demon—mother.

My grandfather had been helping mom with some repairs in the barn. He’d said he knew I wouldn’t lie, so he’d stayed out of sight to see what Bitsie would do.

At that young age, I learned one of life’s greatest lessons. When someone believes in you, neither demons nor mad cows can touch you.



Robin Weaver
Author of:
BLUE RIDGE FEAR
ARTIFACT OF DEATH
THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF LEAH SINCLAIR

8 comments:

Ashantay Peters said...

I'm curious - what happened to Bitsie after that event? Did she still threaten you or had she learned her lesson? And, do you eat dairy products/beef, or were you totally put off your cud, so to speak?

Thanks for the laughs!

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Hey A,

You don't want to know about Bitsie. Like I said, life on a farm is hard, so tried to focus on the positive.

Although, I no longer eat red meat.

Lori Waters said...

Grandfathers are awesome people. So do you still climb trees?

Linda Lovely said...

What a funny story! Loved it. My nemesis the summer I lived on my cousin's farm was a goat. I was about 10, too. Do barnyard animals have it out for pre-teens or what?

Sarah Raplee said...

Great post, Robin! You had me in stitches, although I'm sure at the time you were terrified, poor baby.

My livestock nemesis (nemises? nemisi? What's the plural...?) were Great Aunt Camille's geese. There were at least half-a-dozen of them, and nobody messed with them. Ever.

These birds would even attack unsuspecting cottonmouths (or any other snake), pick the snake up by the tail and whip it around until it's neck snapped. Then the triumphant goose would hand the dead critter over the clothesline as a trophy.

They were the big, white watchdogs of the barnyard, and they loved their job. Since I was a relative stranger, they chased me unless I was with my aunt or uncle. I'm still timid around geese.

sandy bruney said...

so funny. Mine was feeding the pigs, who climbed over the fence to their pen to get at the slop pail I was bringing to them. Needless to say, the pail went one way and I went the other.

Anonymous said...

Great story Robin. -Ro

Judith Ashley said...

You and several commenters had interesting barnyard animal experiences - I never lived on a farm and can't really remember visiting one. However, I had a grandfather who was my hero, could fix anything, and always let me "help" him in the yard and with projects. I sometimes wonder how much more he would have accomplished without my "help".