Recently Jackie and I passed by a cow pasture, and she just had a barking fit, as she tends to do when confronted with an unknown object. She had never seen a cow before.
Mama nearly always kept a cow when I was a child, as did lots of folks, even those who lived in town. I think she liked to milk, and I know she liked to process the raw product into delightful things such as whipping cream, sweet butter and cottage cheese.
Once Mama bought a cow who turned out to be a kicker, and it was extremely difficult for her to get the animal milked without sustaining bodily harm. One afternoon while visiting with our friend, Miss Pearlie Maxine, we mentioned Mama's problem with the cow and were told the following story.
Once upon a time there was a young man, an only child and the apple of his parent's eye, and they determined to send him off to college for some serious book learning. In those days higher education was rare. Not many young people even got to go to high school, so it must have been that the boy was deemed to have great intellectual potential, though parents do tend to see such things in a rosy glow sometimes.
After a few years the young man got schooled out and came home to his proud parents, who were farm folks and not about to waste his superior knowledge on the chores, but they did feel their educated son might help them overcome the problem of a kicking cow.
"Well Dad," he said seriously, "cow kicking is all a matter of scientific principal. That cow can't kick until she humps up her back. All we have to do is put enough weight on her so she can't bend in the middle. Why don't you get up on her back, and we'll just try it out. It's all in the mathematics, and I believe you are just about the right weight."
"I don't know about that. You been gone to school too long son. You've forgot how hard it is to sit on a cow, and I ain't as young as I used to be either," the father said.
"Trust me, Dad," said the educated son. "I'll tie your feet together under her belly and she can't throw you. Let me help you up."
"If you say so, I'll do it. You know lots more than I about do about mathematics, that's for sure."
Well they tied the cow securely to a tree and after several attempts the old man got on the back of the cow. The educated son passed a rope under her belly and tied his father on while the mother attempted to milk. However, the cow refused to cooperate and continued to buck and rear until the old man felt he couldn't stand it anymore.
"Cut the rope, son! Cut the rope!" He screamed to his educated son, who became so excited by his father's obvious pain that he cut the wrong rope, freeing the cow to run off down the road with the old man slipping and sliding all over her back, his feet still securely tied under her belly. It was a long ride.
We didn't ever say anything to Mama about the story, and it wasn't long before that kicking cow got her walking papers.