Oct. 19 2023 12:30 PM

Working with animals means something is always happening on the farm.

Does anyone else have random things happen to your cows? Instead of the typical pneumonia, twisted stomach, or lameness, you have cows that just pop up with random illnesses or put themselves in places you can’t quite explain? It’s never the normal case at my farm. No, I can’t just treat a cow for pneumonia at my place. No, no, it’s always some random peritonitis or hardware or blockage or some completely off the book disease or illness for my girls. My girls are no different than anyone else’s, but given their age, size, and random health issues at times, I’ve concluded that mine are special in so many ways.

I never know what I’ll walk into when I come to work in the morning. Some days, everything is fine, the cows are where they are supposed to be, and all is right with the world. Other days, I have two cows down with milk fever, another in labor, a heifer with her head caught in a fence, and two more in the neighbor’s yard. It’s never, ever, one thing out of place. It’s always three or four or five things going on at once. It’s always some random incident as well. For example, not too long ago, my neighbor called because a heifer had caught her head between two posts. While he went to get the heifer out, I had another neighbor call about a cow in their yard. While granddad and our full-time employee went to chase that one, I had a cow on the wrong side of the fence. There are always a million things at the same time.

I have had some interesting instances as well. I have shared the story of my cow Buddy getting stuck on a gate. She tried to jump and failed, so she ended up teeter tottering on the gate until Dad and I could get her off. I’ve also had cows try to go through human gates and their hips get hung up. I’ve even had a calf decide to run headfirst into a hutch panel and end up getting herself so stuck that we had to use bolt cutters to get her out.

Now, cows are not the only animals that I have witnessed do some crazy things around the farm. I’ve watched a cat run around for 15 minutes with a Cheetos bag stuck on his head. One time, I had a groundhog get stuck in the manure reception pit, so I took a board and let him climb out. I’ve had opossums get stuck in 55-gallon barrels. My personal favorite was when a bear looked at the once full cornfield that had just been harvested and then back at my truck looking as if he would say, “Where did my dinner go?” Another favorite is when our Angus crosses chased a bear across their pasture for no real reason other than to make him run.

The shenanigans that go on at my farm remind me a lot of the old Looney Tunes cartoons. There are random events, random times, and a good hearty laugh to end the night. Sometimes, I look around for the camera crew from “Pranked” to appear when random events occur. Some things I wouldn’t believe if I wouldn’t have seen it. Life is hard — farming is hard — but these silly, random moments make things worthwhile. Stay safe out there folks.

Courtney Henderson

The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.