Funny Farming Story from Steve Riddle: Whisper Cussing

Seems, the only ones to stay put has been my brainless sheep

Another great, funny, but painfully true beginning farming story from Steve Riddle about the exploits of ‘the cow’:

Steve Riddle's Cow

The Cow


Personally I love this one (though I love all of Steve’s stories), because I have an interview video of a farmer telling me about getting a new cow and barely newborn calf. Assuming mom wouldn’t abandon her newborn, they left the trailer gate open while she took the calf to the barn – 100 yards or so (they couldn’t get any closer because it was during the biggest blizzard of the year). When she got back to trailer a (very) local cop was parked there, and informed her that her husband and several other people were chasing the cow through town – backyards, hedges, half frozen creeks (no China shops, but it’s not that kind of town)… in a foot and a half of snow.

It took them four hours to get the cow back into the barn (local cops are apparently only useful for informing one of problems in such cases – though you’s think a lasso would be more useful than a nightstick even in the most cop-like moments such locals experience. (Unfortunately in many of these towns a Has-mat suit and gas mask are the most useful pieces of equipment for dealing with the type of criminals they usually encounter, but I digress…). Don’t want to steal Steve’s thunder here – not that I could tell a story like him even if I wanted to…

I love this one not only because it reminds me of that other story, but because it’s typical Steve Riddle: beginning farming calamity and hilarity told with wonderful ‘put you there in the moment’ prose, and always a great sense of humor (tongue often slightly ‘visible’ within cheek). And more importantly for a beginning farmer (and almost everyone else in the world): they are told with an unusual sense of humility. Please also check out Steve’s Goat Story, Sheep Story, and Chicken Story. I hope there are many more to come. Enjoy! -Taylor

Whisper Cussing, By Steve Riddle

Man, I bitch and moan all the time about how I let a buddy talk me into putting up old used fencing several years back, because now it needs replacing. Well, it’s needed replacing for some time now, but with the addition of a few goats, and my wonderful cow, …ohhhh that blessed cow, they are always getting out. Walking right through large gaping holes in my rusty old fence. We patch that hole and “poof” another springs up right next to it! This never happened in all of the years I’ve just had my sheep. Only since I got the goat!

Friends, neighbors, strangers, whoever, …..always calling, or better yet honking their car horns letting me know “your cows out!” or “your goats out!”
…well thanks, I hadn’t noticed as I stand there with a lead rope in my hand. I even got a call from the local small town cop, who harassed me about my guard dog running up town. I tried to tell that “Barney with a bullet in his pocket” that my LGD was just “on wide patrol” protecting the local village people from predators, but he was stuck in “small-town cop mode” I should have asked him if he needed a doughnut to go along with that bullet in his pocket.

Seems, the only ones to stay put has been my brainless sheep, gathering in small numbers to look at the goat standing on the other side looking at all of them as if to say while eating a mouthful of farmer-neighbor soybeans, “Hey, Mikey, try it you’ll like it!” Demon goats, tempting sheep to behave like them. The goats are always the first ones to break out, tempting the sheep but they never go, …just the cow. I think it’s some form of “dairy club” ritual the goats and the cow get together and play. Maybe it’s the farmyard equivalent to the urban drug gangs, like the “crypts and the bloods”

The worst though has been the cow. When she gets out, she likes to stand there and “challenge” you to catch her. To which I play her game, and try to walk sideways turning my head so as not to make eye contact with her. Walking with my hands behind my back so she doesn’t see the lead rope. (as if it didn’t drag a couple of feet behind me on the ground.) She stands there, tail twitching, big eyes blinking and that long tongue licking her nose, until I get right up to her and, DAMN IT, she takes off running and kicking her heels up sideways for a few hundred feet. Then stops, tail twitching furiously now at this point, turns her head to make sure I haven’t given up the game yet. Sometimes she even gives me an encouraging “mooo” to keep after her as I cuss profanity to new dimensions. The one move she does that just kills me is, when she kicks up her heels and runs off a little to turn and hide behind a sapling pine tree not 4 feet tall. And there she stands, twitching tail until I get a little closer while still “whisper cussing” as I now call it. It allows me to let off steam keeping my blood pressure from boiling over while I play, “catch the cow” (it appears screaming cuss words while stomping towards all manors of livestock and small farm children will immediately send them running in the opposite direction.) Something I’ve learned over the years.

There is a time limit to this game, after 35 or 45 minutes where the cow gives up and lets me catch her. While I’ve proven my superior intellect and pulled a handful of grass and raise it to my mouth and start making smacking sounds LOUDLY. This plan never fails, and she always lifts her head a little higher and perks her ears while licking her nose, and then walks to me while I stand there eating my grass and clip the lead rope to her halter ending “the game” While all of this is going on, I can always hear the goats bells jingling as they run back inside the pasture on their own to avoid being “whisper cussed” at directly, (as I have no doubt that would hurt their feelings.)

So, I’ve spent the last few days putting up new fencing and boy does it look nice! Few jobs done around the farm bring around as much pleasure as standing there looking at new fencing. ….until the damned goat walks into view, ….on the other side, while eating a mouthful of farmer-neighbor soybeans. <begin “whisper cussing” now!>

6 Comments on Funny Farming Story from Steve Riddle: Whisper Cussing

  1. Hi Taylor,
    I just had leave an appreciation for starting out my morning with a big laugh! Love it!

    Mil 🙂

    • Thanks Mil,

      I love Steve’s stuff. He’s a natural storyteller. And it looks like I helped get him hooked up with Knuckeldown Press to publish an e-book, maybe more…

  2. 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.

  3. …and I do believe her chase lasted about 45 minutes or so, I bet..? She’s that way. Did she lick her nose and kick up her back feet whilst running away from you? Offer that incouraging mooo, perhaps? You didn’t try yelling: “Steve Riddle said STOP..” did you? (but really, she is a nice cow, just likes to play the game)

  4. Maybe if I had taken a bit of grass and munched on it she would have given up quicker? I think it was about 55 minutes. Perhaps she has more endurance now?

  5. Do you like your grass raw or cooked.

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Farming Story Follow Up - By A Friend of Steve Riddle

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.