Most of us have had occasion to meet an Alpha personality. You know the type-the born leader with a dominating personality who commands attention just by entering a room. Hitler, Mussolini and Big Bird are notable examples.
A few realize that such individuals also exist in the animal world. You may have heard of an Alpha dog, cat or chicken, but few are aware of the existence of Alpha Cows.
Old red, who beleaguered our pasture for nearly 10 years, was one of those.
She stood nearly 5 foot at the hip and, except for a twisted swastika shaped white patch in the center of her forehead, her entire body was festooned with reddish orange hair. It was the white patch, however, that should ...view middle of the document...
Her leanings created quite an interesting effect on our pasture fence. You see it was constructed of alternating wood and metal posts. Wood posts would not bend with the pressure of her weight but steel ones did, therefore, the areas near the steel posts between wood ones leaned markedly toward the exterior. Anyone looking down its length would have been convinced that our pasture fence had been laid out by a drunken tailor, for it appeared to weave in at the wood posts and out at the steel ones like a poorly stitched hem.
Often her leaning inclination resulted in broken wooden posts that, together with the bendable steel one, resulted in a section of fence that was nearly lying on the ground.
This created a tempting invitation that Old Red could not refuse and her second nature, that of a fence flattener, would rise to the occasion. And flatten she did. She was not one to do anything daintily. There was no stepping over it like most horses would do, nor crawling under like sheep, Old Red would simply walk through the fence flattening it as she went.
This method was not without its consequences, however. The fence was constructed of a section of woven wire, to hold in hogs and sheep, with two strands of barbed wire on top. Therefore, it was not uncommon for her to suffer some udder calamities as she forced her way through. This often resulted in teats that were laid open like Ball Park franks left too long on the grill. Then, I, being the one who had to milk her, would endure the consequences, along with her, for weeks to come. One can only imagine how painful it must have been to have a sore lacerated teat squeezed while milking. More than once I ended up flat on my back after getting the milk pail kicked out of my lap. Often there was traces of blood in the milk. Not without some sympathy for her, we did try to accelerate the healing, however, by coating the split teats with carbolated salve after each milking.
Had it not been for the "kickers" many a gallon of milk would have ended up as cat food on the barn floor. For you uninformed urbanites, kickers are made from a length of light chain a bit heavier than what one might find on a screen door, fitted on each end with a cow leg-cuff that goes over the knees of the hind legs. This effectively prevents a cow from kicking you. It does NOT prevent her from swishing you in the face with a tail whose tip is covered with her organic waste matter, however. But, the method of coping with that is grist for yet another memoir.
As if these two traits weren't enough Old Red was, as I mentioned before, an Alpha Cow. She evidently had some sort of commanding Cow charisma, for her fence crawling seldom resulted in her being the only one escaping from her pastoral prison. When she made her flight to freedom she usually took the majority of the herd with her.
One notably great escape, which awakened the devious devil in me, occurred late one night. We had been sleeping for some...