Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Flying Cow

Ah, rodeo. That timeless experience where grown men in tight jeans show us what they are made of. Leaping off horses at full speed, they wrestle steers to the ground. They ride bucking horses and bulls, risking their lives, their limbs, their ability to father children . . . But nothing can capture the imagination of the multitudes like the age-old sport of cow milking.

My understanding of the history of rodeo is that it evolved from the days when ranchers would get together in the spring, breaking young horses, branding cattle, moving cattle from one feeding ground to another. So theoretically, most of the sports one watches during a rodeo have a relatively strong tie to those cowboying days of yore.

For the life of me, however, I can not grasp the purpose of cow milking. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a cow runs out of a chute, at which point a cowboy on a horse chases her down and ropes her around the neck from horseback and forces the cow to stop running. Now a large guy resembling a football linebacker runs out to the roped cow and pounces on her head, presumably to hold her still. The cowboy on horseback then leaps off of his horse, runs up to the cow, and grabbing an available teet, squirts some milk into a bottle. The clock doesn't stop until the cow is free from the rope and the cowboy has run to the judges to present his bottle of milk.

I will confess I know nothing about cows. Perhaps dairy acquisition is a hurried event. However, I always thought that a rushed cow was a kicking cow.

To illustrate my point, just today a cow in the cow milking event had other plans. Surely her head was filled with pastoral visions of lazily munching hay while her milk is being squirted into a bucket, sans rope around her neck and football linebacker holding onto her head.

She ran from the chute. The cowboy chased her down on his horse. He threw his rope. The loop sailed around her head and shoulders as she jumped through its opening like a circus performer. Feeling the rope tighten around her middle, she conjured every image she ever had of being a peaceful dairy cow, solidifying her dream in her head. The gate loomed close . . . And she leaped. Clearing the five and a half foot gate, she trotted smugly toward her heard. No speed milking today boys, she chuckled to herself. Quietly she started munching hay.

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