Blogger’s Note: Hubba over at Hubba’s House (where else?) posted a funny little story about an electric cattle prod. (Bonus points if that title was a conscious Diamond Head/Metallica reference, Hubba.) So I thought I’d share an early experience of mine.
As kids, my sister Jill and I would spend a week over in the Thumb (that’s Michigander for the area of “the Mitten” east of Saginaw Bay) with Busia and Dziadzi* at the farm where my mom grew up. It was great fun, of course, and one of my favorite parts was watching the cows up close when they came up to the barn for grain. I wasn’t around cows much, so these big-eyed, smelly creatures were fascinating.
Another favorite part was spying the painted turtles Dziadzi invariably had in the cattle’s water tank each summer. If I crept out to the wire that kept the cows off the steel siding of the barn and stayed really still, they would come to the surface and poked their striped heads out of the water, breathing through their tiny nostrils and gazing with their golden eyes.
One afternoon I slipped out to see the turtles, and the cattle were by the tank. They’d already drank, and I was curious about a turtle’s perspective on drinking bovids as he looked up from the cool bottom of the tank. I leaned forward, alternately eying the cows and peering through the water to see where the turtles were. The cows watched me curiously. They were close, and I was nervous about getting closer, so I planted my feet, bent at the waist, and stre-e-e-etched toward the water tank …
POW! I felt an explosion against my forehead, my vision went black and I was knocked backward against the barn. The cows bellowed and scattered. Clutching my forehead with both hands, I ran sobbing toward the house. Dziadzi met me halfway across the lawn. He had heard me coming.
“What happened?” he asked.
“My head … the cows …” I sobbed. “I was looking for the turtles, and one of them kicked me!”
Dziadzi moved my hands away from head. There wasn’t a mark on me. I looked at my hands. No blood. No dirt.
“You sure it kicked you?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I bent over like this …” (I demonstrated) “… to look in the water tank, and one kicked me in the head!”
Dziadzi smiled at me. “Come here and let Dziadzi show you something.”
We walked back to the barn and out the side door where the tank was. The cows saw Dziadzi and bounded back toward the barn, eager for more grain. I stayed just behind Dziadzi.
“You were standing here?” he asked. “And you bent over to look in the water tank?”
“Yes,” I said, accusingly, “and they kicked me!”
Dziadzi laughed: “You got kicked alright. See this wire here? It’s electric. When you bent over to look at the turtles, you touched your forehead to it!”
And I could see that’s exactly what I’d done.
I’ve been shocked a time or two since by fencers. It doesn’t knock me over anymore, but oh, do I hate it!
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* A note on translation: Busia (BOO-sha) and Dziadzi (JAH-jee) are children’s Polish versions of gramma and grampa.