Farming Story Follow Up – By A Friend of Steve Riddle

This story was written by Wendy Peters*, a friend of Steve Riddle. It is a follow up to his farming story 'Whisper Cussing' about a cow (Iris) that kept getting loose. You can read the original story at If you read 'Whisper Cussing' first it certainly adds to the story here, but this farm tale also stands on it's own. Wendy farms and also breeds and trains Border Collies at ClayCreek Farm in Aledo, Illinois. She can be reached at Please share your own farm stories by sending them to: Eventually Steve sold this particular cow to make room for more sheep. Yes there is more to the Iris story. Iris lives on my farm now as I have been starting a small herd of Dexters. She has been doing great with her Jersey cow friends, a little more independent, but nice just the same. Being a little restless she has escaped a few times. I’ve become a better fencer thanks to the cows. This last weekend I was to supply cows for a stockdog trial. Iris just got over an abscess, but was acting ok, and I needed that extra cow so I decided to take her. She was to be loaded early in the morning along with piggy heifer and the little bull calf. I expected this to be an easy job, so didn’t set up any extra gates or chutes. That was my first mistake I should have thought this out better as the evening before it took me about 35 minutes just to get Iris to the back yard where she was to spend the night, when typically it would have taken about 5 to get the cows in. Figuring on an easy load with the cows being handy and all I still decided to start a little early, before breakfast and coffee, so I could relax for a few minutes before making the drive. The three came right up to the trailer with the dog’s help, no problem, bull calf loaded up, and waited, piggy loaded, not Iris, she would have nothing to do with the trailer. On the 6th attempt, she was just about in, when she bumped the gate that was holding the trailer door open. As soon as she saw the opening for the road no longer blocked by the trailer door, she knew what to do. She was heading south down the gravel road. I managed to head her off with the help of my dog, just enough for her to head into my garden. I cussed under my breath a few bad words, now I know what Steve meant by whisper cussing. I watched as she stomped my potatoes and onions, over and over again.

I forgot to mention I was wearing crocs while trying to keep up with this cow to turn her back to the gate leading back into the yard. You just can’t run very fast in crocs. Every once in a while you get dirt and rocks built up in them so you have to stop to dump it all out, that’s another story though.
Eventually I got her out of the garden only to have her head down the road north, right past the gate to the yard. Nothing would stop her , she was on a mission. Funny thing was it didn’t seem like she was going fast, but she just wouldn’t stop. Every time I would get close, she would get just a little farther, not wanting to give it up. Finally I got around her and turned her back hoping she would head back to the driveway gate. No such luck, her mission had changed, now she was looking for a weak spot in the fence to jump back to her favorite spot by the back lane. This is the same spot I had gotten her from the day before, trying to make my job easier by having her closer. For those of you who have ever played chutes and ladders, it was like when you get on that big chute and go back to the very beginning. I wasn’t going to let it happen , no way. She found a spot she liked and decided to make a go for jumping it. She got a little caught up in the fence, enough to thoroughly smash it down, and pop the hot wire, but over she went back to the beginning. This is where I was doing some serious whisper cussing, and telling her how lucky she was I didn’t have a gun with me. I was having visions of her hanging up in a locker somewhere. How would that meat taste? Hmm. I wasn’t going to lose the battle, to I pushed on and decided she was going to go. I sent Bruce after the sheep in that field to give her an escort. She seemed to move better when other animals were there leading the way. We got her moving , but then the sheep, being a little flightier moved ahead too fast leaving her by herself again. I only had a couple hundred feet to go before getting her back to the yard. I can’t give up now. I hollered at Bruce to flank and bring the sheep back my way, while I could see Iris was thinking about shifting directions. I just can’t lose now. It’s up to me to block her path. Quickly evaluating the path, across the creek , I decided to walk, crocs and all and head her off. There comes a time when you step a little too deep in mud and you can’t retrieve those crocs with the feet alone, no matter how much you try. I had to fish those things out with my hands, and swish all the mud out while watching Iris getting ahead of me all the while. Now I was really whisper cussing, maybe a little more. Maybe she was getting a little tired, once I got to the other side of the creek I had caught up with her almost. Bruce had brought the sheep back around and things were looking good. We got to the back of the yard, and she walked right in without hesitation. I was prepared for her loading this time with a cattle panel to help. She loaded right up.

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