How many old men does it take to load one cow?
One of my neighbors walked into the coffee shop the other morning and asked, “What are you boys doing today?”
Homer never asks, or even hints at any need for help because, though in his early 70s, he is still one of the toughest cattleman I’ve ever known. So, for him to even imply that he could use another body or two to load an old cow to take to market was strange.
I and two more of the regulars volunteered to assist after he assured us that she was already captured in the loading pen and all we really needed to do was get behind her so he could close the gate when she ran in the trailer. Ron (late 70s), Marvin (early 60s) and I, all got in our trucks and headed over to Homer’s place.
Sure enough, the big, white cow was in the pipe and concrete loading area with the trailer already backed up to the chute. The old cow was snorting and pawing the ground as we approached her and, even with two-inch steel pipe between us and her, I will have to admit that I jumped every time she charged at me.
“Get in there and drive her toward the trailer,” Ron instructed.
“You go ahead,” I answered, “I think she likes you better.”
Even though there was a series of three gates to close behind her, that would eventually put the old gal right at the trailer opening, she wasn’t having anything to do with anyone getting behind her to close the first one. Someone suggested putting a rope on the first gate so we could pull the gate shut as she charged us. That idea was good in theory, but when she saw the gate closing, she wheeled around and butted it so hard that it broke Marvin’s new rope.
I had the bright idea that, since she was charging at anything that resembled a human, I could tie a plastic OB glove on the end of a sorting stick and dangle it in front of her until she followed it all the way into the trailer. That was another good theory that didn’t pan out. She wanted my arm and not the little shiny thing that resembled my arm on the end of a stick.
After another half-hour of the four of us trying every strategy imaginable to bait, drive or force the girl down to the trailer entrance, someone came up with a brainstorm. Since the loading area sloped significantly downward to the trailer, maybe a person on top of the rear of the trailer would be at enough of the cow’s eye level to entice her to charge at them and she would run on into the trailer. We all looked at each other and decided it made as much sense as the other things that hadn’t worked. But who would climb on top of the trailer?
I suggested that the ‘youngest’ man should make the climb, knowing that Marvin was a full three months younger than me. Homer and Ron both agreed that age was the fairest way to pick a climber. Marvin gave me the evil eye, but proceeded to scale the side of the trailer, anyway. Once, on top, he dangled his legs over the open trailer gate and got the attention of the cow by hollering sweet words to her. According to plan, the cow charged at Marvin’s feet as he swung them up to avoid her head, and she stumbled into the trailer as Homer slammed the door on the now-captured cow.
So, how many old men does it take to load one cow? Four: three on the ground and one in the air.


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