Baxter Black: The human attachment |

Baxter Black: The human attachment

Baxter Black

It had been a long day for Steffan. Frozen pipes, touchy tractors, cranky cows and a stuffy nose. A headache had kept him banging his head against the wall from 6 a.m. to sundown.

His wife and kids went to town that evening, leaving him alone. He was hungry but decided to take cold medicine and a nap before heating up the leftovers she’d left him.

He fell asleep in the chair and slept through supper. It was 10:30 p.m. when the family returned. Steffan woke and went out to check the calvy heifers before retiring. He pulled on his overshoes, coat and cap and groggily stumbled out to the calving lot.

“Ump,” he groaned. “A cow in need.”

She lay on her belly straining, one shiny hoof peeking out. He struggled out of his coat and retrieved a nylon calving strap from the shed. Attaching it to the protruding foot, he pulled. No luck. “Dang it,” his hazy brain said. “I need still another strap!”

He procured it and hooked up the second foot, placing the two unattached ends of the straps around his wrists. He sat down behind the mama cow, propping his boots up against her rear end to gain some leverage. When he leaned back, it startled her. She rose in a fit of bewilderment to rid herself of the human attachment. The faster she ran, the heavier the attachment grew. Centrifugal force disallowed neither of the two straps on his wrists to loosen.

Stuck like a rock in David’s slingshot, Steffan’s lower extremities pounded and pummeled posts and rock-hard clods. His knees, hips, limbs, buttocks, calves and heels managed to find every frozen track and petrified cowpie in the pen, depending on his centrifugal position.

He circled the pen at least three times, and, because he’d left the gate open, he circled the adjoining pen an equal number. He determined in his foggy condition that the gate post, feed bunk, waterer and tundra all had the same density at 10˚ Fahrenheit. On his last collision with the inner post, he gathered enough slack to fly free and lit with a thud.

The confused cow, thinking she had calved, turned and came back to the stunned Steffan. He lay there covered with snow, mud, manure and whatever comes from the back of a cow during parturition. Led by her maternal instincts she sniffed and began to lick him clean.

He recovered and stumbled back to the house for help. He recounted the story to his wife, who collapsed on the kitchen floor in paroxysms of uncontrollable laughter. “Is that all?” she asked, pounding the floor and gasping.

“Yes,” he said, but somewhere in the back of his subconscious, he remembered getting to his knees and trying to nurse.

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