Early cattle encounters hard to forget

Sascha-Kate Marskell’s tale in last week’s Western Producer about being mauled by a 1,740 pound cow was a riveting read.

You couldn’t help but imagine the terror on the farm at that moment, with the cow’s hoofs on her back holding her down. Fortunately, Sascha-Kate survived that incident and recovered from nasty injuries. (For those who missed it, the story can be found at bit.ly/20Cjfhu.)

She continues to work in the cattle business, but she offers her story as a reminder to others about the dangers of letting your guard down for even a moment.

The story reminded me of my younger days, in the town of St. Bruno, near Montreal. I was just a lad in grade school in the late 1960s, having moved to Canada from Scotland. My route to school every day allowed me to cut a few minutes off the half-hour walk by cutting across Jetty’s cow pasture.

The first few times, a kid that age doesn’t think twice about climbing a barbed-wire fence and looking over the cows in the field with curiosity.

Nor does he really understand what it means when they turn and stare at him, until the herd starts to move, all at once, in the same direction. His direction.

I can still vividly remember being shocked the first time it happened, and just as frightened every time thereafter. I was never a long-distance runner, but man could I sprint.

I can also still hear the rustling of the tall grass as the herd’s walk in my direction turned into a determined gait, then a hurried stride.

That thudding of the hoofs and rustling grass might be de rigueur for farmers, but to a kid they are the signal to hoof it.

You’d think after a few times I would have learned not to cut across the farm. Nope. Sometimes, I’d jump up on that fence so fast I’d slam my hands into the barbs. That didn’t hurt as much as I figured being caught by the cows would.

Around the same time, a friend who was working with horses lost a year of school after being kicked in the bowel.

I learned young that big animals mean business when they decide that humans are in their way.

brian.macleod@producer.com

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