Lee Pitts: Attached
February 3, 2015
Just like people, animals get attached to things. Oh, I'm not talking about Teddy bears, pacifiers or a favorite blanket, I mean really attached. Stuck. Like they were Super Glued.
I worked in the oilfields during my college summers and one of the oil leases I worked on had discovered the most profitable crossbreeding tool in ranching: range cows crossed with oil wells. It seems like once every summer on that lease we'd see a poor cow with a thread protector encasing one of its legs. These protectors could be either plastic or metal and did just as the name implied, they protected the threads on stems of drill pipe. But to a cow, these thread protectors were like a mangy dog… something they could not get rid of no matter how hard they tried.
Then there was the longhorn cow in Elko who got her head caught in the panel of a portable sale ring, lifted it out of the ground and terrorized everyone in attendance with that panel. She ran around the indoor pavilion and couldn't get out the door because the panel kept blocking her exit. It was a serious situation but when a steer at the county fair pushed a leg through a plastic water bucket and then tried to run around the fairgrounds it was hilarious. Step, step, step, clump! Step, step, step, clump!Another interesting situation developed when I went to insert some sulfa boluses in the rear end of a cow who had retained her placenta. I had the cow penned between a gate and a panel but somehow she got loose and ran all over the ranch trailing behind the long plastic sleeve that had previously been on my arm. The sleeve would inflate and deflate and make a whipping sound when a gust of wind would blow. The cow could see the billowing sleeve gaining on her but the harder she ran the closer it got.
I saw a lot of strange attachments when we fed sheep on the produce leftovers from a chain of grocery stores. The vegetables came in cardboard banana boxes and it was quite common to see a ewe with a cardboard necklace. Or a sheep with the much dreaded potato butt. My horse Gentleman liked to roll in the vegetables which explained the lettuce leaves in his mane and the broccoli florets in his dreadlock-like tail.
I don't know how animals without thumbs or fingers can get themselves into some of the fixes they do except to say that cows are extremely curious creatures. On a ranch we leased there was an unfenced dump where our cows liked to congregate. Four generations of junk were partially buried deep in that dump including an old rusty set of bedsprings that one of our curious cows managed to stick her head through. She was stuck so bad you couldn't remove her with three containers of vaseline, a cutting torch, barking dog or a plunger.
I've seen photos where people put a toilet seat around an animal's head, or a tire, but I'm pretty sure that these were staged events, or composed on a computer. But not so the photo I saw recently in my friend E.C.'s Beefmaster Cowman Magazine. Every month E.C. runs a photo of an animal who has gotten herself into an interesting dilemma and E.C. asks his readers to come up with funny captions for these photos. It's one of my favorite features and I always get a chuckle out of it. I've begged E.C. for years to compile all the past photos in a book as I'm sure it would be a bestseller. A recent photo might have been the best ever. It was a typical photo of a cow and her calf except that the calf had somehow managed to push her head through the plastic slats in the back of a chair. Because she had entered from the rear of the chair when she approached her mother it looked as if she was being very polite… "Here Mom, take my seat."
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The cow just looked at her wayward child as if it was was an alien from outer space. You could just hear that mother saying to her precocious child, "Now what have you gotten yourself into?"